NBC 7 San Diego
Judge Walsh sent the case and its 18 attorneys back to the South Bay after a hearing Tuesday.
In the legal battle over where more than a dozen current and former school officials will stand trial on accusations of accepting bribes and other crimes, the South Bay wins.
Judge Timothy Walsh denied a motion entered by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office asking that the case stay in the central location.
The defendants are current and former school officials, elected trustees, and contractors who did work at San Ysidro schools, the Sweetwater school district and Southwestern College.
They face hundreds of charges including bribery, perjury and filing a false instrument.
On Jan. 23, the court transferred the case to the South County Division.
However, the DA’s office argued Tuesday that the case involved alleged crimes committed in all areas of the county and so it should be heard in the downtown courthouse.
The vast majority of charges involve individuals acting as South Bay public officials Walsh determined.
“I believe the venue is most appropriate in South County,” Walsh said.
The two indictments at the core of the alleged corruption trial involve 223 charges and 17 defendants.
Among the defendants in the case: financier Gary Cabello, current Sweetwater trustee Jim Cartmill, president of Seville Construction Services Jeff Flores, former Sweetwater Superintendent Dr. Jesus Gandara, current San Ysidro board member Yolanda Hernandez, Sweetwater trustee Bertha Lopez, San Ysidro Superintendent Manuel Paul, Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quiñones, Sweetwater trustee Arlie Ricasa, former Sweetwater trustee Greg Sandoval, former Southwestern college official Nicholas Alioto, former Southwestern Superintendent Raj Chopra, former Southwestern trustee Jorge Dominguez, former Southwestern trustee Yolanda Salcido and Southwestern official John Wilson.
Last year, three contractors who did work at Southwestern and Sweetwater pleaded to lesser misdemeanor charges and agreed to cooperate with investigators. They were: business development executive Henry Amigable; contractor Rene Flores, and an architect Paul Bunton.