January 13, 2015

Former San Ysidro School District Superintendent Sentenced for Extorting Political Contributions from Prospective Contractor by Threatening to Withhold Work

SAN DIEGO—Former San Ysidro School District Superintendent Manuel Paul was sentenced today to two months in custody, a $5,000 fine, one year of supervised release and 120 hours of community service for threatening to withhold the awarding of contracts unless he received political contributions.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo said he imposed a sentence that included jail time because Paul failed the children of his district. Judge Gallo stated, “Thousands of children relied on you for sound judgment.” He later added, “Abuse of trust is a mortal sin that is difficult to excuse.”

Paul was ordered to report to the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown on January 27.

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, he served several duties as superintendent, including recommending contractors for consideration and approval by the SYSD Governing Board for SYSD construction projects.

In entering his plea, Paul admitted requesting that a contractor (“Contractor A”) make $3,600 in campaign contributions to three political candidates for the 2010 Board election, identified in charging documents 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.

In addition to his guilty plea, Paul has 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 has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine.

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 sentence is a stark reminder that illegal money in our elections—regardless of the amount—is a threat to the very fabric of 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 corruption.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge, Eric S. Birnbaum, commented, “The obligation to deal honestly and truthfully is the responsibility of all who serve the public. Today’s sentencing holds Mr. Paul 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).


(CASE NO. 14CR2351-WVG) Manuel Paul Age: 63 Bonita, CA


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


Federal Bureau of Investigation