Lawyers for some of the apparent targets of a bribery investigation spoke about their clients on Wednesday.
They challenge the accuracy of allegations behind search warrants involving several current and former South Bay school officials.
Those allegations surfaced in court documents yesterday.
They center on a so-called "pay-to-play" setup for a building contractor seeking projects with the Sweetwater Union high schools and Southwestern College. Documents indicate trustees and administrators were showered with thousands of dollars in gifts, meals, travel and entertainment.
"What the contractor has done is wined and dined public officials. And today, that is illegal,” said legal analyst Michelle Hagan. “They're not allowed to do that. And not only that, they're required -- as public officials -- to report any gifts that they get.”
Last week, district attorney's investigators fanned out with search warrants for locations stretching from South Bay to Poway and Escondido, seizing a wide range of materials as possible evidence of corruption.
The court affidavit in support of the warrants identifies numerous potential targets, including three current Sweetwater District board trustees and a former trustee.
The contracts in question involve school construction projects funded by bond issues totaling a billion dollars.
Gregory Sandoval, former Sweetwater board president, has told everyone he has nothing to hide.
"I can tell you Mr. Sandoval is very excited to see what the evidence is that the DA's office has against him,” said Sandoval’s attorney Charles Reese. “We're waiting to see what it is that the district attorney's office believes what he did is wrong... He feels as though his name has been dragged through the mud."
Marc Carlos, attorney for board president Pearl Quinones, said the DA has embarrassed her client.
“They have accused her of wrongdoing by just the search warrants in and of themselves” she said. ”So now they're going to have to put up, and see what type of evidence they do have."
Legal analysts said it's possible the probe could widen, and go back in time. There may be statewide implications as well.
The names of a former Northern California Assemblyman and former Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez come up in emails that reference apparent influence-peddling for state jobs.