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Corruption probe ends in ex-San Mateo County Community College District chancellor’s arrest

Mercury News logo Mercury News 4/13/2022 Jason Green, Bay Area News Group

SAN MATEO – An investigation into allegations of corruption against leaders of the San Mateo County Community College District came to a head Tuesday with the arrest of a former chancellor on 21 felony counts including tax fraud and theft of public funds.

Ronald Dario Galatolo was taken into custody without incident at the San Francisco International Airport on a $150,000 arrest warrant, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Galatolo was returning home from a trip outside the country.

Wagstaffe said Galatolo was booked into county jail and spent about three hours in custody before posting cash bail of $150,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned on April 27.

Altogether, Galatolo is charged with two counts of tax fraud, eight counts of conflict of interest/theft of public funds and 11 counts of perjury, according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors allege Galatolo reported a $10,000 charitable donation to the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation Fire Relief Fund on his 2017 state income tax return, but the gift was actually made by the San Mateo County College District Foundation.

Galatolo, with the help of former Vice Chancellor of Facilities Jose Nunez, also allegedly directed construction projects to be awarded to companies from whom he had received and continued to receive gifts, including concert tickets and international travel, and with whom he shared financial interests, according to prosecutors.

In addition, prosecutors allege Galatolo failed to disclose on his required annual Form 700 statement of economic interest that the received gifts from construction firms that had business with the college district. He is also accused of buying high-end cars and under-reporting their purchase price to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Galatolo has not returned phone calls or emails seeking comment on the allegations.

The charges follow an April 2019 whistleblower complaint of corruption against members of the college district’s executive leadership. Last December, the district attorney’s office brought charges against Nunez, who ultimately pleaded guilty to two felony violations of using school funds for political purposes, according to prosecutors.

Galatolo’s two-decade tenure ended in 2019 when the college district board of trustees learned he was under investigation.

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The college district oversees three schools in San Mateo County: Cañada College in Redwood City, College of San Mateo in San Mateo and Skyline College in San Bruno.

Check back for updates.

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