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San Mateo County Community College District vice chancellor charged with embezzlement

The investigation into college district officials is ongoing; arraignment of Jose Nunez set for Dec. 22
Cañada College in Redwood City on Feb. 10, 2021. Jose Nunez, a vice chancellor with the San Mateo County Community College District, is facing corruption charges, in part, because of misusing funds for a contract for the Cañada College Solar Photovoltaic Design-Build project.

Jose Nunez, San Mateo County Community College District vice chancellor, will be arraigned for allegations of corruption and improper use of public funds on Wednesday, Dec. 22, according the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. This comes as a two-year-long criminal investigation into contentious chancellor emeritus Ron Galatolo, is still pending. Charges against other officials in the district may happen in January, District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe said Tuesday.58095_col

The DA plans to charge Nunez, who heads facilities planning and operations for the San Mateo County Community College District, with 15 felony counts of corruption and improper use of public funds related to his conduct in office while serving the district, DA Stephen Wagstaffe said in a press release.

The college district has placed Nunez on administrative leave to "allow the legal process to take its course," said Ana Maria Pulido, the college district's director of public affairs in a statement. She noted the district was informed of the charges Tuesday morning, Dec. 21.

"We are not in a position to specifically respond to the allegations," she said. "The college district has cooperated with the investigation and will continue to be available to the District Attorney's Office. The San Mateo County Community College District remains focused on providing our students and the community with a world-class education."

The DA alleges Nunez, who has been with the district for 21 years, embezzled public money to award a contract to Palo Alto-based architectural firm Allana, Buick and Bers for the Canada College Solar Photovoltaic Design-Build project in 2013 and 2014.

He's also accused of failing to report a number of gifts received from district vendors in the filing of his personal statement of economic interest forms from 2009 to 2020.

The indictment also alleges that Nunez used district resources to support a candidate's campaign for the college district's Board of Trustees. The DA does not name the candidate. He's also accused of using district resources to support the passage of March 2020's Proposition 13, a bond measure estimated to provide $2 billion dollars in funding for community college capital projects statewide.

Attorney Lyn R. Agre is representing Nunez. He is set to be arraigned on the felony complaint on Dec. 22 at 9 a.m. in the Hall of Justice in Redwood City.

Galatolo investigation 

The DA's office began a criminal investigation into district officials in the summer of 2019 and it issued search warrants in connection with Ron Galatolo's tenure as chancellor.

"Our investigation into possible criminal conduct at the district continues, aided by my Bureau of Investigation," Wagstaffe said Tuesday.

Among the allegations leveled against Galatolo are the use of public funds for retirement incentives, undisclosed personal relationships with the district's vendors and undisclosed gifts from contractors who work for the district, according to the district. These gifts appear to have included high-end travel, concert tickets and meals, and do not appear to have been reported on a Form 700 as required by law.

The DA's office said this fall that its decision on Galatolo's case would be announced in October 2021.

Galatolo has yet to be charged.

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