Former community college district chancellor facing new felony charges for embezzlement, theft of public funds | November 17, 2023 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - November 17, 2023

Former community college district chancellor facing new felony charges for embezzlement, theft of public funds

Menlo Park resident Ron Galatolo faces 23 charges related to his tenure as head of San Mateo County Community College district

by Joshua Picazo

Former San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor Ron Galatolo's case continued as prosecutors added two new felony charges — theft of public funds and embezzlement.

Galatolo, who served as chancellor from 2001 until 2021, including two years as "chancellor emeritus," now faces a total of 23 charges. He was fired after his arrest at San Francisco International Airport in April 2022.

The new charges filed Wednesday, Nov. 8, are based on allegations that Galatolo improperly used community college district funds to pay for his private attorney, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The case has moved at a slow pace partially due to a dispute over the admission of electronic evidence, which tied into the new charges.

"The allegations are based on emails between Mr. Galatolo and his attorney. It took many months to resolve the issue of our access to these emails (whether they were protected by the attorney-client privilege or whether we get access to the emails), as we contend they are evidence of criminal activity," Wagstaffe added.

Galatolo's defense had asked the California Supreme Court to take up the case of whether the emails were admissible or not, however the Supreme Court declined and Wagstaffe's office was able to move forward.

"Early this past summer we got access to the emails and after review and consideration, we filed the additional two charges," Wagstaffe said.

The other charges in the case allege tax fraud, perjury and unreported gifts, among other complaints.

In February of this year, the community college district also moved to sue several contractors involved in projects with the district's three colleges under Galatolo's tenure over alleged "pay for play" schemes and listed him as co-conspirator.

A counter suit was filed by one of the contractors listed in the complaint, Karim Allana, CEO of Allana Buick & Bers, seeking over $32 million due to alleged damages to the company's reputation over the allegations.

A call to Galatolo's defense attorneys was not immediately returned. He has pleaded not guilty or denied all of the felony charges and remains out on bail. n


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