Fragozo enters guilty plea before jury selection

VISTA — Embattled Escondido Union School District trustee Jose Fragozo plead guilty Monday to one felony count of voting when not entitled in Vista Superior Court.

The first-term trustee entered the plea just before jury selection was to commence in the criminal trial.

He faces up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine, but could be less if the charge is reduced. Fragozo, 51, must also resign from the school board and cannot run for re-election in November.

He entered a not guilty plea in May to 13 felony counts and denied misrepresenting his place of residence in District 1.

Fragozo’s case was investigated of the claims of his residency at an apartment on Maple Street in Escondido’s District 1. However, Fragozo’s driver’s license, vehicle registration and homeowner’s tax exemptions all listed an address on Crooked Oak Lane, according to the investigation.

San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Leon Shore questioned the legitimacy of the two residences during the preliminary hearing in May.

The charges date back to 2012 and accuse the trustee of four counts of perjury by declaration and filing a false instrument, three counts of voting when not entitled and one count each of false voter registration and filing a false nomination paper.

Fragozo was vindicated earlier this year in another legal battle when the court threw out an attempt by the school district to instate a permanent restraining order against him. The district filed the order last year citing bullying and intimidation by Fragozo.

“The Escondido Union School District remains focused on our goal of providing the best education that we can for our students, in a safe and positive environment,” EUSD Superintendent Dr. Luis Ibarra-Rankins said. “Our teachers, staff, administrators, students, parents, and board members all continue to have an important role in achieving that goal.”

Ibarra-Rankins said the vacant seat will not be filled, citing California Education Code 5093 and board bylaw 9223.

“When a vacancy occurs less than four months before the end of a board member’s term, the board shall take no action.”

Messages were also left with EUSD Board of Trustee President Joan Gardner, Vice President Zesty Harper, which not returned.

This post has been update since its original posting to reflect comments received from EUSD Superintendent Dr. Luis Ibarra-Rankins.

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