Sweetwater Union High School District board member Arlie Ricasa to resign

Trustee accepts plea deal

SAN DIEGO - A Sweetwater Union High School District board member indicted in a public corruption case pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of accepting gifts above state limits and will resign from the board.

Arlie Ricasa, 49, becomes the first elected official from the Sweetwater district to plead guilty and lose her seat on the school board.

Her resignation is effective Dec. 19.

Ricasa -- who is not expected to receive any jail time -- was charged last year along with SUHSD Superintendent Jesus Gandara, fellow trustee Pearl Quinones and former school board member Greg Sandoval.

The four, along with a number of other defendants from the San Ysidro School District and Southwestern Community College District, were subsequently indicted by a county grand jury on conspiracy and other counts.

When the case was filed, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis alleged that for years, public officials regularly accepted what amounted to bribes -- trips, dinners and tickets -- in exchange for their votes on multimillion-dollar construction projects.

Construction company executive Henry Amigable pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor for providing gifts to school board members to influence their votes. A number of other defendants have also pleaded guilty.

The district issued the following statement regarding Ricasa's resignation:

"Effective December 19, 2013, Ms. Arlie Ricasa will resign from her seat as a Board Member of the Sweetwater Union High School District. This is a personal legal matter and the district will not comment on the specifics of the case.

Ms. Ricasa has served on the Board of the Sweetwater Union High School District since 1998 and was previously a counselor at several schools in the district. She is a graduate of Mar Vista High School.

The Sweetwater School District will be working with our own legal counsel and the San Diego County Office of Education on what the next steps will be regarding governance of the district. Board policy states that a provisional appointment will be made to fill the vacant seat. A timeline will be shared with the public once it is available.

The Sweetwater District remains committed to ensuring 100% student success for all students and we thank the community for their continued support."

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