LAUSD board president faces felony charges in campaign contribution case

Refugio Ref Rodriguez is seen in this undated file

LA school board president faces felony charges over campaign contributions

Ref Rodriguez, president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board, and his cousin were charged today for allegedly reimbursing almost $25,000 to donors that Rodriguez claimed in a campaign filing form, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.

In addition, Rodriguez, who became the board president earlier this summer, faces felony perjury and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument charges, according to the DA's office. Rodriguez, who became president of the school board this summer, raised more than $50,000 during the first campaign reporting period that ended in December 31, 2014, the D.A.'s office said. They are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

Rodriguez and his cousin allegedly reimbursed almost $25,000 to donors, according to a whistleblower complaint filed in March 2015. 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. The case remains under investigation by the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation.

Rodriguez was first elected to represent much of Los Angeles' east side, as well as cities including Huntington Park and South Los Angeles, in 2015.

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. Unified has been made aware of the charges against Dr. Ref Rodriguez. "In the meantime, we maintain our steadfast focus on ensuring all students across the state can access a high-quality education".

If convicted on the felony counts, Rodriguez faces a possible maximum sentence of four years and four months in jail, Melendrez faces up to three years in jail.

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