DA to look into land transaction

Josie Salazar
City Times

San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll has asked District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to investigate circumstances surrounding a 2006 property deal in which two local developers, acting on their own, may have misrepresented the College District to several Downtown property owners.

The district bought a parcel of land on the 15th Street block of downtown for the fair-market value of $1.2 million from well-known developers Mike Madigan and Paul Nieto.

According to the The San Diego Union-Tribune, the two developers allegedly had offered the property owners a below-fair-market value price of $750,000 and promising tax breaks, claiming to be agents of the college district, then selling it to the district, making more than a $500,000 profit.

District officials state that in itself, the acquisition of the property by the district was a legal process; nevertheless they asked the district attorney to conduct an independent investigation for any fraudulent actions that may have been taken by the two developers in acquiring the parcel of property before selling it to the district after information came to their attention that the two developers may have falsely claimed to represent the college district.

In a statement sent districtwide on July 16, Carroll said, “This afternoon, we contacted the District Attorney’s Office to request that this agency conduct an independent investigation to ensure that a thorough and independent review is made.”

City College’s president, Terrence Burgess, said, “We generally are not making public comments while the District Attorney’s investigation is underway.”

Paul Levikow, a spokesman for the district attorney, said normally they would not comment on the existence of a case, but since the Union-Tribune article, he confirms that they have been asked to look into the case.

City Attorney Michael Aguirre was also conducting his own investigation, however according to Levikow, was asked to stop his investigation because “it is not his jurisdiction.”

Aguirre was not available for comment.

In addition, according to the Union-Tribune article, now-retired district Vice Chancellor Damon Schamu, the head of the Facilities Management, had known of the alleged misrepresentation though chose not to intervene. According to the article, he retired shortly after the Union-Tribune contacted him about the matter.

The college district disputes the claim about Schamu, Public Information Officer Richard Dittbenner said, stating that they have no knowledge that Schamu knew of the alleged misrepresentation.

“We do not have any evidence that he knew that,” Dittbenner said. “At the first of the year, he put in his papers in normal sequence for retirement.”

Next Issue: An in-depth look into the alleged misrepresentation and property sale, and reported comments from the Union-Tribune about former Vice Chancellor Damon Schamu.

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DA to look into land transaction