San Jose School Board Member Charged With Stealing Public School Bond Measure Funds

​For release on December 15, 2017 

CONTACT:
John Chase, Deputy District Attorney
Public Integrity Unit
(408) 792-2595

 

SAN JOSE SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER CHARGED WTH STEALING PUBLIC SCHOOL BOND MEASURE FUNDS

A longtime San Jose school board member has been charged with grand theft, perjury, and violations of the Political Reform Act – five felonies and five misdemeanors - for spending money raised for a public school bond measure on himself and then hiding it in required campaign disclosure filings 

John Lindner, 55, a member of the Franklin-McKinley School District Board, spent $16,000 of the campaign’s money on airline tickets, lumber, and other personal expenses. He also loaned $12,000 of the campaign money to a relative, which was later paid back.

Lindner turned himself in around noon yesterday and was released on $35,000 bail. The arraignment is scheduled for January 19, 2018, at 1:30 in Department 23 of the Hall of Justice. He faces jail time and a large fine if convicted of these crimes. Each of the misdemeanor counts is punishable by a fine of up to three times the amount of money the defendant failed to report properly, which means that a total fine could exceed $250,000.

“Aggravating matters is that nearly all of the money donated in support of the school bond measure game from developers, contractors, and architects,” Deputy District Attorney John Chase said. “While at the same time the defendant, who kept much of this money for his own use, was a member of the school board that makes decisions about how the bond money will ultimately be spent.”

An investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) showed that Lindner was the treasurer in control of a campaign fund for an ultimately successful 2010 bond measure intended to improve aging schools in the east side district. After the measure passed, Lindner used the remaining campaign funds to make personal purchases of lumber and travel. He also withdrew cash and transferred money to his personal bank account.

By July 2012, the trustee had bled the account almost dry. However, Lindner continued to file periodic disclosure forms reporting that the fund still had $13,000.

In 2016, he filed a final report, terminating the campaign committee by claiming that more than $13,000 was distributed in amounts less than $100 to “Unnamed Civic Donation Recipients.”  This unusual report caught the attention of the Registrar of Voters, who reported it to the FPPC. The FPPC fined Lindner after it determined the report was false and that Lindner had stolen the money.

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