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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Former San Ysidro School District Superintendent Pleads Guilty To Extracting Political Contributions From Prospective Contractor By Threatening To Withhold Work

SAN DIEGO – Former superintendent of the San Ysidro School District Manuel Paul pled guilty today in federal court to deprivation of benefits for political contributions. Paul worked in the San Ysidro School District (“SYSD”) for 38 years as a teacher, principal, and superintendent, a post he held from 2007 until his resignation in 2013.

According to court documents, Paul had several duties as superintendent, including recommending contractors for consideration and approval by the SYSD Governing Board for SYSD construction projects.

Paul admitted in his plea agreement to requesting that a contractor (“Contractor A”) make $3,600 in campaign contributions to three political candidates for the 2010 Board election, identified in the plea agreement as Candidates A, B, and C. Paul admitted that he made clear that Contractor A’s inclusion on the list of potential contractors for future District building projects was contingent on Contractor A making the payment. According to the plea agreement, shortly thereafter – and only two months before the 2010 Board election – Paul accepted $2,500 in cash from Contractor A in the parking lot of a Chula Vista restaurant. Paul admitted that he then contributed a portion of the $2,500 to the political campaigns of Candidates A, B, and C by purchasing campaign signs from a print shop in Tijuana. According to court documents, Candidates A, B, and C won the three open seats.

Charging documents allege that almost two years later, in July 2012, Paul provided Candidates A, B, and C a receipt for the purchase of $1,401 in campaign signs for the 2010 election. The receipt lists a third party as the purchaser of the signs.

Simultaneous with his guilty plea, Paul also entered into a stipulation with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, in which he admitted to receiving a gift in excess of the annual gift limit by accepting the $2,500 from Contractor A. As part of his settlement with the FPPC, Paul agreed to pay a $5,000 fine. The stipulation will be considered by the FPPC at its October hearing.

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy stressed that her office will continue to pursue vigorously any criminal activity that seeks to introduce illegal money into campaigns. “Today’s guilty plea is a stark reminder that illegal money in our elections – regardless of the amount – is a threat to our democratic form of government and will be treated as such by our office. All citizens of our district have the right to elections free from dollars obtained through coercion.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge, Daphne Hearn, commented, "We demand the best from our public servants and expect them to deal honestly and fairly when conducting the public's business. Mr. Paul did not do that, and will now be held accountable for his actions." The FBI encourages the public to report allegations of public corruption to the FBI public corruption hotline at telephone number (877) NO - BRIBE (662-7423).

United States Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo ordered Paul to appear on November 18, 2014, for sentencing.

DEFENDANT   Case Number: 14CR2351-H
Manuel Paul Age: 63 Bonita, CA

Deprivation of Benefit for Political Contribution – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 601
Maximum penalty:      1 year imprisonment and $100,000 fine


Federal Bureau of Investigation

*Indictments and complaints are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged.  All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.     

Updated July 23, 2015