The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office plans to bring fraud charges against disgraced former San Mateo County Community College District chancellor Ron Galatolo.
Among the allegations leveled against Galatolo are awarding construction contracts to vendors in exchange for valuable gifts like international travel and writing off a donation made with district funds to Tubbs Fire relief efforts on his personal tax return, the DA announced Thursday, April 7.
Galatolo, who the district's board of trustees fired last year, is the second district official to be charged with fraud. In December 2021, the DA brought felony charges against Jose Nuñez, former Vice Chancellor of Facilities. He pled guilty to two felony charges for using school funds for political purposes in January, according to the DA.
Following a nearly three-year investigation, the DA said in a statement Thursday that Galatolo:
• Reported a $10,000 charitable donation to the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation Fire Relief Fund, intended to aid students, staff and faculty in recovering from the October 2017 Tubbs Fire, on his 2017 state income tax return when it was actually a donation made by the San Mateo County Community College District Foundation
• With the assistance of Nuñez, directed that construction projects be awarded to vendors from whom he had received valuable gifts, including concert and sporting events tickets and high-end travel
• Didn't report gifts from contractors on a Form 700 as required by law
• Purchased high-end and classic cars and purposefully underreported the purchase price to the DMV (outside of his district role)
In the summer of 2019, the district announced that Galatolo would leave his chancellor post to become chancellor emeritus and work on a feasibility study to bring a California State University campus to the Peninsula.
The district's governing board voted to end Galatolo's $467,700 annual chancellor emeritus contract during a closed session in February 2021.
The board said Galatolo failed to complete any work over the 18 months he served as chancellor emeritus. He also "refused" to answer any of the board's questions about his work for the district, trustees said.
The district's board of trustees, through their outside counsel, Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, LLP., has been supportive of the DA's efforts in obtaining records and conducting interviews of district personnel, assisting the investigation that has resulted in the filing of these felony charges, the Thursday press release states.
"The college district severed its relationship with Mr. Galatolo more than a year ago and has cooperated with the District Attorney's Office throughout its investigation and will continue to do so pending the upcoming criminal proceedings," said district spokeswoman Ana Maria Pulido in a statement. "The college district remains focused on providing access to a world-class education to the people of San Mateo County.”
There is an arrest warrant issued for Galatolo, but he is not yet in custody, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe in an email. Galatolo is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. on April 15 at San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City.