A man who served on three school boards and was accused of defrauding a charity last year has been charged in San Jose with embezzling about $3,000 from his 2010 school board campaign in Gilroy, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Francisco Dominguez, 51, was arrested last week and has since been charged with grand theft and three counts of perjury for misusing campaign money and filing false state disclosure forms, Deputy District Attorney John Chase said.
Dominguez, who was released on $50,000 bail last week, is also being prosecuted for charges filed last year, alleging he stole tens of thousands of dollars from a nonprofit organization from 2008 to 2010 and an engineering firm in 2011, Chase said. The new charges are based on about $3,000 in campaign funds Dominguez allegedly spent on non-political expenses during his 2010 campaign for the Gilroy Unified School District’s board of education, Chase said.
Dominguez charged $1,000 in campaign donation funds for purchases at restaurants and cafes in Southern California, transferred $1,700 to his personal account and withdrew $300 in cash, Chase said. The funds represented about half of the contributions donors made to his campaign, which led to his election to the board in 2010, Chase said.
State law considers money in campaign accounts to be held in trust and spending it for personal purposes is illegal, with $950 and over considered a felony, Chase said. Prosecutors maintain that Dominguez spent the funds while conducting his campaign and misrepresented his expenses on three Form 460 state disclosure filings that he signed under penalty of perjury.
Chase said that Dominguez allegedly used his campaign coffers to cover personal things including a smog inspection fee and concession items at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. If convicted of the four felony charges related to the campaign account, Dominguez could be sentenced to up to six years and eight months in jail. Last October, the district attorney’s office filed charges alleging Dominguez double-billed the South County Collaborative, a charity focusing on preventing youths from taking drugs.
While in charge of bookkeeping for the charity from 2008 to 2010, Dominguez allegedly wrote checks to himself and embezzled $52,000, prosecutors said. Dominguez is also accused of stealing money from the Parsons Corporation, an international engineering and construction management firm that hired him in 2011 to attend meetings and gather information about public opinion regarding high speed rail.
But the district attorney’s office said that an investigation found Dominguez billed the company for attending meetings where high speed rail was not discussed, didn’t happen on the date he billed for, or never happened at all. If convicted on the charges related to the charity and the engineering company, Dominguez could face up to three years in prison.
Chase said that a preliminary hearing has not been set on the 2012 charges and that he may seek to have them combined with the campaign fund case since both involve theft charges. Dominguez is a former member of school boards in San Jose and Oxnard and ran without success in the June 2010 Democratic Primary for the 28th District of the California State Assembly. Dominguez served on the Gilroy board until he resigned Nov. 9, 2011, following news accounts of allegations from the South County Collaborative’s former treasurer that he embezzled funds from the charity, Chase said.
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