Sweetwater president to be sentenced in corruption case

CHULA VISTA - The president of the Sweetwater Union High School Board will be sentenced Wednesday on bribery charges in a massive corruption case.

Board President Jim Cartmill plead guilty in April to a misdemeanor charge of accepting gifts over the state limit, along with trustee Bertha Lopez. Both are still on the board, despite calls to step down.  On May 13, a San Diego Superior County judge suspended both of them.

The two were among 15 people indicted in 2012 in a probe into a "pay for play" culture between contractors and officials from three school districts.

Former trustees Pearl Quinones and Arlie Ricasa already stepped down from the 5-person board after entering guilty pleas earlier this year. In April, Quinones was sentenced to three months of house arrest after admitting to counts of felony conspiracy and misdemeanor accepting gifts above the state limit.

Others to plead guilty include former trustee Greg Sandoval, ex-Superintendent Jesus Gandara and a construction company executive, Henry Amigable, who admitted to a misdemeanor for providing gifts to school board members to influence their votes.

On May 19, it was announced that four members of the San Diego County Board of Education would serve as temporary trustees for Sweetwater Union until new members are elected in November. They would join John McCann, the only sitting trustee who has not been incriminated in the scandal.

However, McCann is running in the June 3 Primary Election for Chula Vista City Council Seat No. 1. As of Wednesday morning, McCann was leading former Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla by a 38 to 32 percent margin. If neither candidate gets 50 percent, the two will face off in a runoff in the November General Election. This means all five board seats could be up for grabs.

Cartmill’s sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Chula Vista Superior Court.

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