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.