Former Southwestern College Administrator Sentenced

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    A judge sentenced a former Southwestern College administrator John Wilson to 20 days of roadside Public Works service and $7,994 in fines on Tuesday.

    Wilson, the former Director of Business Services at Southwestern College, earlier entered a guilty plea to a felony charge of aiding in the commission of a felony. The charge was related to Wilson accepting gifts over the legal limit from a single source and not reporting them on state-mandated forms.

    Prosecutors said Wilson attended expensive dinners at restaurants such as Baci's and Flemming's while he steered multi-million dollar construction contracts to the companies that were 'wining and dining' him. 

    After South County voters approved a $389 million bond measure in 2008 for construction at Southwestern College, Wilson helped direct that bond money to a company he later went to work for, according to court documents. 

    He originally faced more than a dozen felony and misdemeanor corruption charges, including felony conflict of interest and receiving a bribe. The charges stemmed partly from gifts accepted from a business development executive, Henry Amigable, who helped secure contracts at two South County school districts. Amigable accepted a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with the District Attorney's office in 2012.

    Wilson's factual statement admitted in court: "Henry Amigable committed a felony, i.e., he gave me a thing of value to influence my official decision. I was aware that Henry Amigable committed a felony. After Henry Amigable committed the felony I concealed his conduct, in that I was required to file a Form 700 under the Political Reform Act."

    Judge Ana Espana granted a defense motion to reduce the felony plea to a misdemeanor, citing Wilson's work with a non-profit and his role in the community. Prosecutors opposed the motion and argued it in court.

    Dr. Carla Kirkwood of Southwestern College opposed to the judge's decision, saying the punishment was not harsh enough and that whistleblowers would be discouraged from coming forward in the future.

    Judge Espana said that she thought the case was important and that it had a tremendous impact on the community. She encouraged future whisteblowers to come forward.

    The case has garnered the attention of at least one local lawmaker. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has introduced legislation that would prevent school and college district superintendents and administrators from raising campaign cash for the board members that they serve.

    Six defendants remain in what District Attorney called the worst public corruption case her office had ever prosecuted. So far, none have been convicted of accepting a bribe in exchange for their votes.

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