News

San Mateo County Community College District vice chancellor pleads not guilty to misusing public funds

Prosecutors say a project at Cañada College may have involved criminal misuse of public funds. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Jose Nuñez, the latest district official ensnared in a criminal investigation into the San Mateo Community College District, pleaded not guilty last week to more than a dozen felony charges alleging that he misused public funds and illegally spent district money to support a political candidate.

Nuñez, a 21-year veteran in the district, currently serves as vice chancellor of facilities planning, maintenance and operations. He has since been put on administrative leave during the pending legal matter.

The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office filed 15 felony charges against Nuñez, including embezzlement and perjury charges, accusing him of illegally awarding a contract for a solar project at Cañada College in 2014. He also allegedly failed to report "numerous" gifts he received from vendors spanning more than a decade.

Jose Nuñez. Courtesy San Mateo County Community College District.

Nuñez also faces felony charges that he had used district resources to support a candidate for the district's board of directors and to support a $2 billion bond measure for capital improvements, both a violation of state education code.

Nuñez appeared in court on Dec. 22 for an arraignment, and pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to the district attorney's office. He remains free on his own recognizance, and will return for another court hearing next week on Jan. 5.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

The District Attorney's office has spent more than two years investigating the corruption scandal at the community college district, looking into possible illegal activity by former Chancellor Ron Galatolo, who was fired earlier this year. The district's board of directors has accused Galatolo of misusing public funds for retirement incentives; failing to disclose personal relationships with district vendors; and failing to disclose gifts from contractors ranging from high-end travel to concert tickets.

Prior to Galatolo's dismissal, the district had spent in excess of $200,000 in legal fees directly related to Galatolo's employment. Formal charges have not been filed against Galatolo, making Nuñez the first of the district's top officials to face criminal proceedings in the investigation.

Charges against other staff could come as soon as next month, according to the District Attorney's office.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Kevin Forestieri
Kevin Forestieri is an assistant editor with the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac. He joined the Voice in 2014 and has reported on schools, housing, crime and health. Read more >>

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stay informed on important crime news. Sign up for our FREE daily Express newsletter.

San Mateo County Community College District vice chancellor pleads not guilty to misusing public funds

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 27, 2021, 12:19 pm

Jose Nuñez, the latest district official ensnared in a criminal investigation into the San Mateo Community College District, pleaded not guilty last week to more than a dozen felony charges alleging that he misused public funds and illegally spent district money to support a political candidate.

Nuñez, a 21-year veteran in the district, currently serves as vice chancellor of facilities planning, maintenance and operations. He has since been put on administrative leave during the pending legal matter.

The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office filed 15 felony charges against Nuñez, including embezzlement and perjury charges, accusing him of illegally awarding a contract for a solar project at Cañada College in 2014. He also allegedly failed to report "numerous" gifts he received from vendors spanning more than a decade.

Nuñez also faces felony charges that he had used district resources to support a candidate for the district's board of directors and to support a $2 billion bond measure for capital improvements, both a violation of state education code.

Nuñez appeared in court on Dec. 22 for an arraignment, and pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to the district attorney's office. He remains free on his own recognizance, and will return for another court hearing next week on Jan. 5.

The District Attorney's office has spent more than two years investigating the corruption scandal at the community college district, looking into possible illegal activity by former Chancellor Ron Galatolo, who was fired earlier this year. The district's board of directors has accused Galatolo of misusing public funds for retirement incentives; failing to disclose personal relationships with district vendors; and failing to disclose gifts from contractors ranging from high-end travel to concert tickets.

Prior to Galatolo's dismissal, the district had spent in excess of $200,000 in legal fees directly related to Galatolo's employment. Formal charges have not been filed against Galatolo, making Nuñez the first of the district's top officials to face criminal proceedings in the investigation.

Charges against other staff could come as soon as next month, according to the District Attorney's office.

Comments

Michael B. Reiner, PhD
Registered user
another community
on Dec 28, 2021 at 10:21 am
Michael B. Reiner, PhD, another community
Registered user
on Dec 28, 2021 at 10:21 am

The "First Amended Employment Agreement for Chancellor Emeritus" (see the link above "accused Galatolo"), had a number of unusual stipulations:

1. The former Board entered a contract to employ Galatolo as "Chancellor Emeritus." Board policy 2.17, however, specifies that the title is only an honorific for RETIRED employees. Yet, the Board hired him as an administrator for another 32 months. Can the Board violate its own policy when it suits their fancy?
2. The only duty was to develop & administer the CSU Silicon Valley 2+2 program; yet, no such program existed. At the time, CSU had yet to conduct its feasibility study for a new campus; in the end, CSU determined that Canada College was not a feasible site. So, what was Galatolo to develop & administer? Also, he was not allowed on campus. Peculiar if you are developing & administering a new program
3. Reporting relationship - Galatolo reported solely to the new Chancellor, his former subordinate & mentee Michael Claire. Nepotism?
4. Salary - To do a job that was undefined, had no job description, lacked specific responsibilities, & allowed Galatolo to engage in outside employment, he was paid $38,975 a month + benefits, or approximately $1.6 million for the contract. Nice work if you can get it

I have always wondered why the Board would spend so much taxpayer dollars for an ill-defined project that might never come to fruition. To me, it always seemed like a quid pro quo. I know the Board & Galatolo were in conflict; he reported that to Skyline's presidential cabinet in the Spring of 2019 of which I was a member. At that meeting, Galatolo claimed to have won the battle; he eventually lost the war

But, why did the Board buy his silence with a lucrative exit package? The only reason ever stated, in the preceding Separation Agreement, was that there were difficulties in their employment relationship.

Three current Board members were "in the room where it happened." Taxpayers need truth & transparency


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.