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Pasadena City College official fired amid bribery probe

June 20, 2012 |  3:42 pm

A Pasadena City College administrator facing a criminal bribery probe was fired by the school’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday morning.

Richard Van Pelt, vice president of administrative services, and Alfred Hutchings, the college's facilities services supervisor, are under investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The board voted unanimously to fire Van Pelt, with Trustee Berlinda Brown abstaining.

At the meeting, Mark Rocha, the college's superintendent and president, also recommended that trustees fire Hutchings. But as a classified employee, Hutchings has the right to request administrative hearings before the board acts, according to a statement from the college.

The investigation of Van Pelt, of Altadena, and Hutchings, of Rancho Palos Verdes, focuses on the alleged solicitation of bribes last year for a competitive contract for the school, said Dave Demerjian, head of the district attorney's Public Integrity Division.

The D.A.'s office is also investigating possible conflicts of interest related to the men's financial interests in other campus contracts, Demerjian said.

The office received the complaint in March. No charges have been filed against the two men.

They operated a company, Sustainagistics LLC, without disclosing it to the school, Rocha said.

The college is investigating to determine whether the company had any contact, activity or other business with potential college vendors, Rocha said.

In a document known as a Form 700, which elected officials and top administrators must fill out to disclose potential conflicts of interest, Van Pelt did not report in 2011 any possible investments, property, businesses, income or gifts that could pose a conflict for his position.

Earlier this month, as part of the probe, the district attorney's office served search warrants at the homes and campus offices of the two men, removing documents and computers.

The college has hired an outside accounting firm to conduct an audit and oversee all business and fiscal operations. A preliminary review of the college's finances indicated that all funds were accounted for, Rocha said.

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