Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Sweetwater scandal: Ed Brand’s claims contradicted

Sweetwater scandal: Ed Brand’s claims contradicted
Did he or didn’t he ask for $40,000?
By Susan Luzzaro
San Diego Reader
June 2, 2013

On May 30, the U-T published the testimony of Sweetwater Union High School superintendent Ed Brand, given to the San Diego County Grand Jury late last year.

In November–December 2012, the grand jury conducted secret hearings to inquire into the alleged corruption of trustees, administrators, and contractors in three South County school districts. Ultimately, 15 trustees, administrators, and contractors were indicted as a result of the proceedings.

Brand told U-T reporter Aaron Burgin on May 30, “If I knew what I know when they asked me to come back [as superintendent of the Sweetwater school district], I wouldn’t have done it.” (Brand's first stint as superintendent spanned 1995–2005; he returned in 2011.)

Brand also complained to Burgin that there was too much contractor influence in the district and that three trustees had asked him to go to the president of Seville Group Inc, Rene Flores, for campaign donations. (Seville Group Inc, or SGI, managed the district’s $644 million Proposition O bond until January 2012.)

The U-T reported: “He [Brand] said that within the first six to eight days of his arrival, [Bertha] Lopez, [Pearl] Quiñones, and John McCann asked him to solicit campaign donations from SGI President Rene Flores and Jaime Ortiz, the company’s bond manager.”

In the grand jury transcripts, deputy district attorney Leon Schorr asked Brand: “Did you ask him [Flores] on behalf of McCann, [Jim] Cartmill, [Arlie] Ricasa, Quiñones, or Lopez for any contributions?” Brand answers: “No. Never.”

But in another volume of the transcripts that have been officially released to the public (Brand’s were not) Flores tells deputy district attorney Schorr:

“I want to say something very quick. Dr. Brand in December asked me to give an additional $20,000 to both John McCann and Jim Cartmill and I didn’t do it right away during December for tax purposes. And so I didn’t do it. So he suspended us [SGI] without any reason…and subsequent to that there’s been evaluations done and we have been cleared — my company has been cleared of any wrongdoing.”

So, it seems there is a contradiction in the sworn statements.

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