LAUSD President, Cousin Charged For Reimbursing Nearly $25K To Campaign Donors

LAUSD Board President Ref Rodriguez is shown in a July 2017

LAUSD Board President Ref Rodriguez is shown in a July 2017

LAUSD Board President Ref Rodriguez and his cousin have been charged with reimbursing almost $25,000 to donors he claimed in a campaign filing form, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Announced Wednesday.

Rodriguez now faces one felony count each of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution, perjury, and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument.

According to prosecutors, Rodriguez raised over $50,000 during the initial campaign reporting period ending in December 2014 and 25 donors - mostly family and friends - were allegedly paid back $24,250 by Rodriguez and Melendrez. Rodriguez and Melendrez were scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

In total, 25 donors, most of whom were family and friends, were allegedly paid back $24,250. The donors' names were listed on a campaign finance report that was reportedly signed by Rodriguez under penalty of perjury and filed with the commission, the district attorney's office said.

Commission staff found that over a 22-day period in December 2014, almost half of the campaign contributions were allegedly fraudulent because Rodriguez and Melendrez reimbursed those who gave them. The case remains under investigation by the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation.

Rodriguez and his cousin allegedly reimbursed almost $25,000 to donors, according to a whistleblower complaint filed in March 2015.

Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association, said in a statement: "We are aware of the charges announced today against Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Ref Rodriguez".

Prosecutors accuse Rodriguez of giving more than $24,000 to his own campaign, while illegally representing that the donations had been made by more than two dozen other contributors.

If convicted, Rodriguez faces a possible maximum sentence of four years and four months in local custody, while Melendrez faces up to three years in local custody.

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