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Former East L.A. College dean is charged with embezzlement, misappropriation of funds

Students gather at East Los Angeles College in 2018.
Students at East Los Angeles College in 2018. The former dean of the college has been charged with embezzlement and misappropriation of funds.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A former dean of East Los Angeles College was accused of overbilling the school for trips he took as part of his job, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced Thursday.

Paul De La Cerda, 47, was charged with one felony count each of misappropriation of government funds and embezzlement of government funds. De La Cerda is accused of forging documents he submitted for reimbursement, according to the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors say De La Cerda, who previously served as the dean of economic development and innovation with East Los Angeles College, overbilled the school about $1,600 for several hotel stays between March 2017 and 2019.

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De La Cerda left East L.A. College in June 2021, said William Boyer, Los Angeles Community College District’s director of communications. The student newspaper said he was dismissed in March, but Boyer couldn’t confirm that.

“This is a very serious matter, and ensuring that we are good and careful stewards of the public taxpayer monies entrusted to us is a top priority for the district, our board and executive staff,” Boyer said in a statement.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. De La Cerda is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 7.

Boyer said the district has “cooperated fully” with the investigation.

Officials with the district attorney’s office and Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Currently, De La Cerda is listed as vice president of instruction and assistant superintendent at Cabrillo College, where he began working in July, according to his LinkedIn professional page.

A spokesperson for Cabrillo College, in Aptos, Calif., confirmed that De La Cerda is still employed with the school, but would not comment on the charges against him.


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