Sweetwater Trustee Pearl Quinones Pleads Guilty in Corruption Case

Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quinones accepts a plea deal in the school corruption case

A guilty plea was entered Tuesday by one of four current educators charged in a widespread corruption scandal involving school officials in San Diego.

NBC 7 has learned that Sweetwater trustee Pearl Quinones has agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit a crime and one misdemeanor related to filling out paperwork concerning gifts.

With tears in her eyes, Quinones told NBC 7 she can not continue to afford legal representation in the corruption case.

“I would have fought it to the very end if I had been able to afford to keep fighting it,” Quinones said.

More than a dozen school officials from the Sweetwater, San Ysidro and Southwestern College school districts face charges including bribery and perjury in the case that involves officials accepting gifts and other favors in exchange for votes on mult-million dollar construction contracts. .

Judge Ana Espana said Quinones won’t be serving any time. The felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor upon completion of three years of probation.

Per state law, she has to immediately resign from Sweetwater school board.

The current and former administrators, educators and contractors were indicted in a major "pay-to-play" public corruption case that now stretches across three school districts located in San Diego’s South Bay.

Quinones is one of four current educators accused including Sweetwater trustees Bertha Lopez and Jim Cartmill, San Ysidro trustee Yolanda Hernandez and Southwestern College administrator.Arlie Ricasa.

With two other trustees still facing charges, there is the possibility that the Sweetwater board could dwindle to one board member.

When contacted by NBC 7, district spokesperson Manuel Rubio said that there is a quorum of trustees. The district is working very closely with the county board of education to determine the process.

Defendants include former Southwestern College Superintendent Raj Chopra, former Southwestern College trustees Yolanda Salcido and Jorge Dominguez, former Southwestern College administrator John Wilson, former Sweetwater Superintendent Jesus Gandara, former San Ysidro Superintendent Manuel Paul, former Sweetwater trustee and Southwestern College administrator Greg Sandoval.

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