Criminal Case Against Centinela Valley Superintendent Moves Forward

Nearly five years since the Centinela Valley High School District was faced with a corruption scandal and a year since the arrest of Superintendent Jose Fernandez, the former Superintendent will be back in court next week, according to the Daily Breeze

As many as 30 witnesses could testify against Fernandez. He will be appearing in a downtown Los Angeles court for a preliminary hearing that could potentially last for five days. The judge will determine whether or not there's enough evidence against Fernandez to try him for allegedly carrying out an embezzlement scheme. 

The scheme the former Superintendent led was deceiving school board members and taxpayers in a low-income district, so he could enjoy luxurious repayments and out of the ordinary perks.   

He was arrested in August of 2017 on a dozen felony counts, including embezzlement by a public official, misappropriation of public funds, grand theft and conflict of interest. If he is convicted on these charges, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office launched its investigation in February of 2014 after reports revealed that Fernandez had collected $663,000 in total compensation. Eventually, it was later learned that he had actually collected $750,000 in compensation. 

Several past and present Centinela Valley officials have confirmed they received subpoenas out of the blue last week. 

As well, Fernandez's two-story house in Ladera Heights and 17 bank accounts were among assets frozen days before he was arrested. Investigators did this because they feared he'd use it to make bail or pay for his defense. 

Current Superintendent Gregory O’Brien, who has replaced Fernandez, has said district officials have moved past the scandal, but that it crosses the back of their mind. 

He said district officials will be watching the case against Fernandez, but don’t want it to affect their students.

Photo: The Daily Breeze

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