Two new hearings in lawsuits related to an ongoing bribery investigation of two fired school officials have been scheduled.
Meanwhile, a wrongful termination claim filed against the District by one of the men was denied by the Board of Trustees at its Jan. 16 meeting.
The bribery investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorneyâ€™s office of former Vice President of Administrative Services Richard van Pelt, and former Facilities Supervisor Alfred Hutchings is continuing, officials at the DAâ€™s Public Integrity Division said this week.
In one of the lawsuits, the plaintiffs, LED Global LLC, and its two principals Robert Das and Saila Smith allege that van Pelt and Hutchings solicited bribes to the tune of $250,000 in exchange for a campus-wide lighting contract. The contract was eventually awarded to another company, Seesmart Inc.
LED Global representatives later claimed to be the initial whistleblower that prompted the DAs investigation into van Pelt and Hutchings.
LED Global is also suing the District for negligence and breach of contract. The complaint was initially dropped when the school challenged the legal sufficiency of the document, but has since been amended and is set for a court hearing, according to the schoolâ€™s general counsel Gail Cooper.
More recently, Hutchings filed a claim for damages from the District in excess of $10,000, alleging â€œwrongful termination, unpaid wages, failure to return personal property, and defamation,â€ according documents on the Board agenda for Jan 16. The claim, a legal step required before filing a suit in court, was denied by the Board.
In the initial lawsuit, Hutchings and van Pelt are accused of soliciting bribes, cigars, limo service, prostitutes, and a first-class excursion in India in exchange for the $5 million lighting contract for the school.
In turn, van Pelt and Hutchings filed a cross-complaint against LED Global, alleging conspiracy to commit fraud and to slander them. That complaint was eventually dropped without prejudice in an earlier hearing because their representatives were failed to reply to motions made against them.
A new hearing in the LED Global suit against van Pelt and Hutchings is scheduled to take place on Feb. 27.
In the second case LED Global filed against the District, a hearing has been scheduled for March 12.