DA Investigators Raid MACSA

Armed investigators from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office raided the Mexican American Community Services Agency (MACSA) Youth Center at 660 Sinclair Dr. in East San Jose Thursday.

The raid began some time this morning. By 5pm, at least five officers with badges around their necks and guns on their belts were loading two unmarked police vehicles from a side door of the community center.

With neighborhood kids and MACSA employees looking on, the plain-clothes officers stacked packages wrapped in brown butcher paper and yellow tape marked “Evidence.”  The packages were stamped with stickers that read “Santa Clara County Bureau of Investigation,” and notes such as “Server” and “Banking Docs.” The packages appeared to contain computers and boxes of papers.

“We are collecting documents as part of an ongoing investigation,” said Lt. Mike Sterner, an investigator with the DA’s office who was on the scene. “It’s been pretty low key. We’re working cooperatively with MACSA.”

This raid came one day after a story detailing the experiences of two former MACSA teachers ran in Metro and SanJoseInside.com.

The teachers, Miguel Baldoni and Gordon Smith, claimed that their pension contributions were essentially stolen. They also challenged statements by former MACSA Chief Operating Officer Xavier Campos, now a candidate for city council, who claimed to know nothing about the alleged pension diversion.

Today’s police raid on MACSA is the first tangible investigative step the office of Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr has taken to investigate the controversial non-profit.

In late August 2009, Carr received a 38-page report concerning MACSA, commissioned by the county Office of Education. In a letter to Carr, county Superintendent Charles Weis wrote that the report “found evidence of apparent illegal fiscal practices and misappropriation of funds” at the school.

According to the report, MACSA surreptitiously skimmed $400,000 that was earmarked for its employees’ pensions—practically cleaning out the account. Without the faculty’s or staff’s knowledge, the money was instead used for operational costs to keep the insolvent school up and running.

 

21 Comments

  1. > According to the report, MACSA surreptitiously skimmed $400,000 that was earmarked for its employees’ pensions—practically cleaning out the account.

    What!?  I’m shocked!

    How could something like this happen?

    I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.

    • I’m sure you’re right, Schultz.  No doubt just an innocent mistake.

      Probably just put the $400,000 in the wrong cookie jar.  It’s probably still sitting there on the shelf.

      I’m sure every one of us has put a hundred grand in a coffee can and forgetten about it.

      Happens to me all the time.

  2. If this story goes to where it appears its headed, it means potentially some jail time for some people.  It also means the possible end of an organization that was once respected and now in disarray.  These are not positive things, but we should compliment Metro for exposing this dishonesty and possible crime.

    • You are absolutely correct, too bad the story didn’t run last week and prompt the DA to finally take action before the absentee ballots were dropped.

      It will be a shame if D5 voters waste a vote on Campos only to have him jailed over this criminal matter.

      Where is Mr Campos?  Why hasn’t he come forward even now to clear his name?  Does he really think that being a “leader” of the community means hiding in the shadows when you face adversity?  Maybe that buried head in the sand routine is how he missed the MACSA theft.

      I feel really bad for MACSA workers and the kids and families who depend on their services.

  3. Somehow I think Dan Fenton has something to do with this… 

    Dan Fenton & Team San Jose your next…  Keep an eye out for those men and that Van!

    • The layer of hilarity that Camp Campos seems to continually miss is that they bash Ms Carrasco over the head with a bankruptcy.  Silicon Valley has one of the highest statewide bankruptcy rates driven by hardworking families who choose strategic defaults to protect their homes from foreclosure.  Its not an excuse or good thing but it is a reality for many ordinary families in San Jose.  Camp Campos bashes and bashes, saying how irresponsible she is for bankruptcy.  They also bash the thousands of families who have had to resort to bankruptcy.  I wonder how many union workers in their own ranks have filed for bankruptcy or are in foreclosure?

      Personal mismanagement of your finances shouldn’t be overlooked but it certainly endears her to the ordinary folks doesn’t it?  When she says she is just like us, she really means it. 

      Now stealing or helping other steal nearly half a million dollars from hard working teachers, nah thats not like me at all. Campos is first guilty of arrogance.  He is so out of touch with the community that he doesn’t even see that what he tries to make a slight against her simply endears her more to the people.  Keep going Camp Campos at this rate you’ll give Ms Carrasco a double digit lead in November!

    • That a person went bankrupt is hardly a serious reason to vote for their opponent in an election.  Should only people who’ve gotten rich be allowed to hold public office?  Lots of decent, responsible people have gone bankrupt, particularly now that we’re in something akin the the Second Great Depression.  Besides which, even if you think its bad for someone to go bankrupt, its not one tenth as bad as Xavier Campos’ involvement in the MACSA scandal.

  4. Just to be clear: This is an ongoing investigation of FORMER executives of MACSA. 3 people that are no longer a part of MACSA. 

    The MACSA that currently exists is comprised of hard-working, bleeding-heart individuals who believe in MACSA’s mission and are trying to keep their heads above water and keep the center’s doors open while serving a community in need in San Jose.

    Articles such as this that paint this to be a “MACSA” problem do nothing but harm to the CURRENT MACSA staff as they try to keep much-needed programs and services in our schools and community. 

    I guarantee that anyone that is around is not there for the paycheck, nor the recognition.  They are working long hours and bearing the brunt of the mistakes that others have created before them and unfortunately are no longer around to clean up.

    A little less sensationalism is probably too much to ask from today’s news.  But how about some equal coverage about the MACSA of today and their current successes?

    • i went to m.a.c.s.a. academia calmeca charter high school for 3 years as a student. the teachers realy were dedicated to helping the students out. i personaly believe that myself, aswell as many of my classmates, would have taken another life route if it wasnt for macsa. as far as i can remember, all my teachers were very careing and interested in our education. i was very sad when the school closed down before i could reach my senior year. i felt, and noticed the difference between a school that cares about there students(macsa) and a school that seemed more interested in there paycheck.

    • > “at least five officers with badges around their necks and guns on their belts”

      Did they yell “Come out you dirty rat!  We’ve got the place surrounded!”?

      Did Campos yell “Come and get me, copper!”?

  5. So if the DA comes in and takes your servers and computers and stuff, how are you supposed to keep running your business or non-profit?  Seems like without a conviction in court, they have already punished the organization by taking away stuff they need to do business.

    Criminal investigations are fun and interesting for the political theater aspect, but I’ve always been troubled by law enforcement seizure powers. 

    Being investigated gives them grounds to take your servers which means no email, network and stored documents are available for day to day operations?

    Take this situation – which I’m assuming is based on the misappropriation of the $400,000 in pension funds to use for operating expenses several years back.  The remedy (shutting down a struggling non-profit) via seizures seems severe and it kinda punishes the wrong people.  Administrative justice – using authority to take things “for investigation” has actually been really abused in the past, especially around suspected drug crimes where law enforcement agencies had dishonest motives in pursuing cases based on seizures they could get (cash, cars, houses.)

  6. While I’m not defending Campos refusing to comment and clear things up, I do think we need to wait until the investigation has concluded. Rushing to judgment isn’t fair. We live in a country that presumes we’re innocent until proven guilty.

      • You’re correct about that.  Its a shame the DA sat on that report for nearly 14 months in this important election cycle.  Xavier may not be implicated explicitly at this point but he is by no means cleared of wrongdoing since he was the Chief Operations Officer who oversaw the schools and he sat on the finance board.

        In his bid for city council even incompetence (less severe than criminal embezzlement) is enough to keep people from voting for him to represent our community on the council.  Its hard to imagine a reason for how he missed the moving of money from one contract to another and from the pensions to operating expenses.  Speaking up to try to clear that up might help him otherwise I cannot imagine anyone would want to waste a vote on someone who may be criminally indicted once he’s elected.

  7. With respect to those concerned about due process, let’s not overlook the size of the big, stinking taco that festered for so long inside MACSA headquarters, the one that Mr. Campos claims he never saw or smelled. The fact is that the “C” in his title was for “chief” operating officer, and if he now insists it stood for “clueless” or “confused”—as opposed to “criminal”—then his next move should be consistent with his admitted dereliction: he should drop out of the race for city council.

    I realize that shame and responsibility have lost all standing in American politics, but in light of the still-empty retirement accounts, for Mr. Campos to consider himself qualified for office is to show the disrespect for District 5 voters that he’s already demonstrated for the hardworking teachers he victimized. He should just be happy that the retirement accounts he emptied belonged to gentle teachers rather than professionals of a more prickly nature, in which case the objects bagged by investigators this week would have been his former internal organs, not his former organization’s computers.

    Lest anyone accuse me of shilling for Ms. Carrasco, based on her account of her personal bankruptcy I wouldn’t vote for her for any public office that didn’t include in its title the words “sweeper” or “catcher.” That said, I will admit she possesses the one quality that seems especially beloved by the voters of her district, glaring mediocrity. In other words, she’ll fit in well on the council dais.

  8. Campos couldn’t yell “come and get me coppers” because he already took to hiding in the hills long ago.  The Alum Rock Hills way up under his sisters skirt.

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