Update at the Chron (7/9, 5:29 PM) Ex-City College chancellor leaves current job
7/8 7:17 PM San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris today announced that criminal charges have been filed against a former chancellor of City College of San Francisco for alleged misuse of public funds and illegal campaign contributions.
Harris said she is charging former chancellor Philip Day Jr. with conspiracy, misappropriation of public funds, concealing an account of public money, grand theft, use of college funds to support a political campaign, and making a political contribution in the name of another.
Two current associate vice chancellors at the school are also facing charges in the case.
“Misusing public funds and laundering money for political purposes are serious offenses that jeopardize the integrity of the political process and weaken the public trust,” Harris said.
The alleged crimes took place between 1999 and 2006.
Day became chancellor of City College in 1998, and left the school
in 2008. He now heads the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, an education lobbying group in Washington, D.C.
Also charged are Associate Vice Chancellor Stephen Herman, who has been at City College since 1972, and Associate Vice Chancellor James Blomquist, at the school since 2004.
Attorney Michael Sweet, who is representing Herman, said of his client, “He’s been cooperating for the last two years with this investigation, and he’s innocent.”
Attorney Jim Collins, who represents Blomquist, said, “I haven’t seen the charges, and I haven’t seen the discovery in this case, but I will say, I don’t believe that Mr. Blomquist did anything intentionally wrong.”
Day’s attorney, Cristina Arguedas, is reportedly out of the country and was unavailable today, her office said.
According to prosecutors, Day and Herman allegedly diverted money owed to the college to political campaign committees supporting state and local education bond measures, and also to a secret fund Day used for personal expenses.
The two are alleged to have taken $50,000 from a Pepsi vending contract with the school in 2001, and given it to the campaign committee for a $195 million San Francisco bond measure that City College’s board of trustees put on the ballot to raise funds for campus construction projects. The alleged contribution was without the board’s knowledge, prosecutors said.
In 2005, Day and Herman allegedly diverted $20,000 from local vendor the Bean Scene for a similar $246 million local bond measure, and another $28,000 from Pepsi in 2006 for a statewide bond measure to raise funds for the California community college system.
Blomquist allegedly diverted $10,000 from a lease agreement with Bay Area Motorcycle Training Inc., which held trainings on the school’s property, to the 2005 San Francisco bond campaign.
Day is also alleged to have used City College funds for a $500 contribution to the state Assembly campaign of Sarah Reyes in 1999.
Harris noted today that state law prohibits spending community college funds on political campaigns.
“There are legitimate methods by which you can support a political campaign,” she said. “These were not.”
In addition, prosecutors allege Day and Herman used $45,000 owed to the school by Pepsi for a secret account Day maintained at the college’s nonprofit foundation, a charity that raises money for student scholarships at the school.
Prosecutors said that money went, in part, to expenses incurred for parking tickets and alcohol at official functions.
The fund was also allegedly used for a $1,800 membership at the City Club of San Francisco, a business club “Where ‘no’ is never the correct answer to your needs and where superb service and personal recognition are paramount,” according to the club’s Web site.
The fund, Harris said, “was basically a personal expense account.”
“This is an absolute misuse and abuse of the public funds that were designed and meant to benefit the campus directly,” Harris said.
Arrest warrants have been issued for all three men, Harris said.
She said she expects the men to “self-surrender” by a deadline next Tuesday.
Day, charged with eight felony counts and one misdemeanor, and Herman, charged with seven felonies and one misdemeanor, could face up to nine years in state prison and fines of $300,000 if convicted of all the charges, Harris said.
Blomquist, charged with two counts–using college funds to support a political campaign, a felony, and making a political contribution in the name of another, a misdemeanor–could receive up to three years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted, Harris said.
City College officials this afternoon released a statement responding to the charges, emphasizing that the school’s Board of Trustees and administration cooperated fully with this investigation.
The district attorney’s office began investigating in 2007, after the San Francisco Chronicle reported the alleged misuse of funds in the 2005 bond campaign.
“In response to those allegations, two administrative investigations were conducted at the direction of the Board of Trustees in an effort to fully understand what occurred and to remedy any problems,” the school’s statement said.
The San Francisco Community College District in August 2008 adopted rules and guidelines governing political activity and campaign financing.
“The new policies make clear that District personnel may not be involved in political campaigns in any way that use public resources or public time,” the school said today.
Other changes include closer supervision of school employees’ campaign activities and the hiring of an independent auditor “to ensure that funds belonging to the District are used properly,” the school said.