Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Former Gilroy school board member charged with embezzlement, perjury


 A former Gilroy school board member already accused of bilking a charity out of tens of thousands of dollars is now being charged with using campaign donations for personal use and lying about it on official forms.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday announced four new counts against Francisco Dominguez: grand theft and three perjury charges related to his successful board run in 2010.

According to prosecutor John Chase, Dominguez, 51, used about half of $6,000 in donations for nonpolitical purposes. More than $1,700 was transferred to his personal accounts, $300 cash was withdrawn, and the rest consisted of purchases made with the campaign debit card.

"I'm sure the people who contributed to Mr. Dominguez' last school board campaign never expected their money would be used on such things as a car smog inspection or concessions at Dodger Stadium," said Chase, who heads the district attorney's public integrity unit.

Chase said that when investigators looked at campaign statements over three months they saw "a total of maybe nine" reported expenditures, all in large amounts. But bank records showed close to 100 expenses charged to the card.

That included dozens of small bills at restaurants, bagel shops and cafes, many in Southern California.

"I could potentially understand a restaurant charge if it was hundreds of dollars for taking out campaign consultants," Chase said. "But many were less than $10, sometimes less than $4."

Chase said the questions arose while his office was investigating last year's charges, in which Dominguez is accused of overbilling South County Collaborative between $10,000 and $50,000 for work he was supposed to be doing with a drug-aversion program for kids.

Other charges filed in October involve Dominguez's work for engineering firm Parsons Corp., which Chase said was defrauded to the tune of $6,000.

Those cases are still pending and may be combined with the new charges, Chase said.

"There's some commonality," Chase said. "I'd say lying is the common element."

Dominguez, who also served on school boards in San Jose and Oxnard, was arrested last week and is out on bail. His attorney in last year's matter could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

His maximum sentence if convicted on all the new charges is six years and eight months in jail.

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