The Coast News Group

Fragozo sentenced to probation over voter fraud

VISTA — Former Escondido Union School District board member Jose Fragozo was sentenced last week to probation after his guilty plea to a felony count of voter fraud.

He pleaded guilty in August before jury selection was about to begin in the criminal trial. Fragozo was originally charged with 13 felony counts, but took a plea bargain to avoid a harsher sentence.

Allegations surfaced earlier this year about Fragozo’s residence and whether he filed false information to win the District 1 seat in 2012.

The charge is a “wobbler,” meaning the judge had the option of issuing a felony or misdemeanor. Judge Harry Elias, however, went with the felony but left the option to reduce the charge for a later time, according to media reports.

Fragozo’s sentence includes court fines, restitution and 15 days of public work service.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14, which may cost Fragozo up to $26,000, reports said.

Currently, Fragozo is banned from running for public officer again, although if the misdemeanor is applied, he could run for office in three years, according to reports.

Fragozo’s case was investigated on the claims of his residency at an apartment on Maple Street in first district. However, Fragozo’s driver’s license, vehicle registration and homeowner’s tax exemptions all listed an address on Crooked Oak Lane, according to the investigation.

San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Leon Shore questioned the legitimacy of the two residences during the preliminary hearing in May.

The charges date back to 2012 and accuse the trustee of four counts of perjury by declaration and filing a false instrument, three counts of voting when not entitled and one count each of false voter registration and filing a false nomination paper.

Fragozo was vindicated earlier this year in another legal battle when the court threw out an attempt by the school district for a permanent restraining order. The district filed the order last year citing bullying and intimidation by Fragozo.

Fragozo, though, said he was happy to be back in the mix, although he still feels slighted by the actions of district administrators.