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College district paid over $200K in legal fees for former chancellor

The entrance of Cañada College in Redwood City on Feb. 10, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The San Mateo County Community College District paid out $213,895 in legal fees for Ron Galatolo, the district's contentious chancellor emeritus who was fired from his post amid claims of financial impropriety. The district covered the fees while District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe investigated Galatolo.

The Palo Alto Daily Post first reported the news on Thursday that the district, which runs three community colleges in the county, covered Galatolo's legal fees from September 2019 to September 2020. The Almanac obtained the same information from the district on Thursday.

The San Mateo County Community College District made the payments noted here for legal fees incurred by former chancellor Ron Galatolo. Courtesy San Mateo County Community College District.

The district paid Swanson & McNamara LLP for "legal services for matters related to Mr. Galatolo's employment" on Galatolo's expense. Swanson & McNamara's San Francisco-based "trial and appellate law firm specializing in high-stakes criminal, civil, and regulatory defense and internal investigations."

Among the allegations leveled against Galatolo are the use of public funds for retirement incentives, undisclosed personal relationships with the district's vendors and undisclosed gifts from contractors who work for the district, according to the district. These gifts appear to have included high-end travel, concert tickets and meals, and do not appear to have been reported on a Form 700 as required by law.

The district's governing board voted to end Galatolo's $467,700 annual contract during a closed session in February. Not only did the board fire Galatolo, but the board also voted to try to get back what it paid the chancellor emeritus under his 2019 contract.

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He failed to complete any work over the 18 months, trustees said in a Feb. 6 letter to Galatolo. He also "refused" to answer any of the board's questions about his work for the district, they said.

The DA's office told the San Mateo Daily Journal that a decision on its criminal investigation of Galatolo, which began in summer of 2019, should come this month.

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This article was updated when the district shared additional information, per a request by The Almanac, about the legal firm the district paid and what services the firm provided to Galatolo.

Angela Swartz

Angela Swartz
 
Angela Swartz joined The Almanac in 2018 and covers education and small towns. She has a background covering education, city politics and business. Read more >>

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College district paid over $200K in legal fees for former chancellor

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 22, 2021, 11:37 am

The San Mateo County Community College District paid out $213,895 in legal fees for Ron Galatolo, the district's contentious chancellor emeritus who was fired from his post amid claims of financial impropriety. The district covered the fees while District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe investigated Galatolo.

The Palo Alto Daily Post first reported the news on Thursday that the district, which runs three community colleges in the county, covered Galatolo's legal fees from September 2019 to September 2020. The Almanac obtained the same information from the district on Thursday.

The district paid Swanson & McNamara LLP for "legal services for matters related to Mr. Galatolo's employment" on Galatolo's expense. Swanson & McNamara's San Francisco-based "trial and appellate law firm specializing in high-stakes criminal, civil, and regulatory defense and internal investigations."

Among the allegations leveled against Galatolo are the use of public funds for retirement incentives, undisclosed personal relationships with the district's vendors and undisclosed gifts from contractors who work for the district, according to the district. These gifts appear to have included high-end travel, concert tickets and meals, and do not appear to have been reported on a Form 700 as required by law.

The district's governing board voted to end Galatolo's $467,700 annual contract during a closed session in February. Not only did the board fire Galatolo, but the board also voted to try to get back what it paid the chancellor emeritus under his 2019 contract.

He failed to complete any work over the 18 months, trustees said in a Feb. 6 letter to Galatolo. He also "refused" to answer any of the board's questions about his work for the district, they said.

The DA's office told the San Mateo Daily Journal that a decision on its criminal investigation of Galatolo, which began in summer of 2019, should come this month.

This article was updated when the district shared additional information, per a request by The Almanac, about the legal firm the district paid and what services the firm provided to Galatolo.

Angela Swartz

Comments

Joanne
Registered user
Woodside: other
on Nov 16, 2021 at 4:12 am
Joanne, Woodside: other
Registered user
on Nov 16, 2021 at 4:12 am

After reading this, I am appalled at what this chancellor has done. Galatolo has ripped off the tax payers for over $1,000,000 and the DA has to think about filing charges?? Students, faculty, taxpayers and citizens should be outraged at his abhorrent behavior and demand he repay the district the money he stole for his personal gain. A salary of almost $500,000 plus benefits isn’t enough for [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] so he has to steal more. Someone needs to seize his assets and sell them. Unbelievable.


Brad
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 23, 2021 at 11:18 pm
Brad, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Dec 23, 2021 at 11:18 pm

How is the College District responsible for paying legal fees for this disgusting human being and his illegal behaviour??
Taxpayers should never be footing the bill for this! Why is it taking so long when there are witnesses and blatant evidence available?


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