Skip to Content

I-Team: Jesse Gandara Sr.’s Corruption Charges Dissected

A former Fabens Superintendent, Jesus Gandara Sr., has been charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor charges in a California court.

Gandara is accused of failing to report gifts, accepting gifts worth more than allowable by California state law, and misusing a school district credit card while serving as the Sweetwater Union superintendent. Paperwork filed in the Superior Court of California in San Diego County show eight felony charges, and three misdemeanor charges tied to a widespread public corruption case. The charges include four counts of perjury by declaration, four counts of filing false instrument, and three wrongful influence by a public official charges.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis went before media in early January and referred to the case as one of the largest corruption cases her office had ever investigated.

?It was pay-for-play, and the defendants received a long list of the pay side,? said Dumanis.

Dumanis filed paperwork to obtain a search warrant which unveiled the beginning stages of her office?s investigation. The 50-plus page document describes how Proposition O, a $644 million bond, served as a vacuum for contractors looking to obtain projects in the Sweetwater Union district.

The investigation was launched after a group of concerned citizens reported the violations, but the investigation outlined in court documents show it quickly zoned in on the relationship between Henry Amigable and trustees with the Sweetwater Union School Board.

Amigable is the former district manager and vice president of business development for San Diego?s Gilbane Building Company. Gilbane was given an interim agreement tied to Proposition O on May 16, 2007, at the direction of Jesus Gandara, according to an investigation by the DA?s office.

Between the date of an interim contract being awarded to Gilbane, and a permanent contact valued at $7.5 million was agreed upon during a School Board meeting on Jan. 28, 2008 investigators claim roughly a dozen dinners, lunches, and entertainment meetings took place involving Gandara. No entertainment visits were listed in Gandara?s financial documents from 2007 or 2008. State law requires gifts must be reported, and that they cannot exceed $420 from a single gift giver. During that time investigators estimate Gandara received more than $6,000.

According to public records uncovered by ABC-7, Gandara has left the Sweetwater Union district in California and has returned to Socorro.

I stopped by the home listed on Gandara?s license, but no one answered the door. In fact, several people got out of a car and entered the home locking a gate behind them while I was approaching the home. No one answered multiple phone calls that I made to the residence either.

Neighbors, however, had more to say. One woman stopped and asked what was going on, when she was told about this story she said she wishes Gandara had never moved back to her neighborhood.

?I know I?m not supposed to care, but we live in Socorro and this isn?t right,? she said.


– June 16, 2007: $835.66 meal including Gandara, his wife, and two other people

– June 24, 2007: $14.09 lunch for Gandara

– August 11, 2007: $175.53 meal for Gandara and his wife

– August 15, 2007: $58.47 meal for Gandara

– September 8, 2007: $360. 96 meal for Gandara and his wife

– September 13, 2007: $87.28 drinks for Gandara, his wife, and two other people

– October 11, 2007: $482.09 dinner and theatre tickets for Gandara and his wife

– October 26, 2007: $797.73 dinner for Gandara, his wife, and four other people

– November 10, 2007: $1103.22 dinner and tickets to Jersey Boys for Gandara, his wife, and two other people

– December 8, 2007: $701. 07 dinner for Gandara, his wife, and one other person

– January 5, 2008: $1090.70 dinner for Gandara, his wife, and four other people

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo



KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content