The Pasadena Unified School District launched an investigation Thursday into the handling of its $350-million school construction bond, a day after suspending a top official and several work contracts.
On Wednesday the district placed Chief Facilities Officer David Azcárraga on leave, suspended its contract with a consultant overseeing work under the 2008 bond measure, Measure TT, and terminated four other consulting contracts.
District spokesman Adam Wolfson said the investigation will be conducted by Vicenti, Lloyd and Stutzman, a Glendora-based accounting firm that specializes in probing public agencies for fraud.
Officials declined to comment about the nature of the investigation.
Azcárraga, hired by the Pasadena school district in January 2011, was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday pending the outcome of the investigation, said Wolfson.
Before coming to Pasadena, Azcárraga was chief facilities officer for the Compton Unified School District and had worked for the West Contra Costa County and city of Vallejo school districts, according to a 2011 Pasadena schools hiring announcement. He had also overseen maintenance of military bases in the San Francisco Bay area for the U.S. Navy.
The district on Wednesday also suspended its contract with Robin Brown, a consultant overseeing all Measure TT contracts and projects, Wolfson said. Brown was hired in June 2011 and was earning up to $312,000 per year at a rate of $150 per hour, according to district documents.
Azcárraga’s annual salary is $155,000, said Wolfson.
Consulting contracts with four other individuals or companies overseeing bond funds have been terminated, as well.
Pasadena-based Seville Construction Services held a $162,680 contract to provide “document control staff” for school construction work, according to documents.
Ontario-based LCC3 Construction held a $99,840 contract to oversee construction accounting services and a $66,300 contract for navigating that Department of State Architect approval processes.
The district also suspended a $176,800 contract with consulting project manager Peter Contis. Contis oversaw work at Madison, Webster and Longfellow elementary schools as well as McKinley School and Marshall Fundamental School, according to the district.
A $114,400 contract with assistant project manager Arturo Arce was also terminated.
Arce, Contis and workers on the Seville and LCC3 contracts reported to Brown, according to an organizational flow chart posted on the district’s Measure TT website. Brown reported to Azcárraga.
Bond-funded projects currently under construction include a new family center and student drop-off area at Madison, electrical upgrades at Marshall, auditorium modernization at Webster, and a new classroom building and faculty parking area at Cleveland Elementary School, according to the Measure TT site.
School board members, who met in closed session on Tuesday, declined to comment or did not return calls.
Pasadena Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle said the agency is not conducting an investigation of alleged improprieties with Measure TT contracts.
The Public Integrity Division of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is not investigating the handling of Pasadena Unified School District bond funds, according to division head Jennifer Lentz Snyder.
School District Chief Finance Officer John Pappalardo has temporarily assumed role of chief facilities officer, Wolfson said.
In June, Vicenti, Lloyd and Stutzman was called in after a separate contracts controversy erupted at Pasadena City College.
The firm began inspecting the books at Pasadena City College after county prosecutors launched a bribery investigation against the college’s top financial officer and head of facilities.
Prosecutors have not filed charges in the PCC case, which remains an open investigation.
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