LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The president of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education and his cousin were charged today with more than two dozen criminal counts for allegedly reimbursing nearly $25,000 to donors he listed on a campaign finance form in 2014.
Refugio “Ref'' Rodriguez -- who became president of the school board this summer -- is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on one felony count each of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution, perjury and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Rodriguez, 46, is also charged with 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.
His cousin, Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, 45, is charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution and 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.
Prosecutors allege Rodriguez raised more than $50,000 during the first campaign reporting period that ended in December 2014 and that 25 donors -- most of whom were family members and friends -- were allegedly paid back $24,250 by Rodriguez and Melendrez.
The donors' names had been listed on a campaign finance report that was allegedly signed by Rodriguez under the penalty of perjury and submitted to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, which received a whistleblower complaint in March 2015 about Rodriguez's fund-raising activities, according to the District Attorney's Office.
The two were charged following an additional investigation by the District Attorney's Office.