Bribery Probe Rocks Pasadena City College

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pasadena City College's top financial officer and a college official with a checkered work history were placed on leave this week after the Los Angeles County district attorney's office launched a campus bribery probe.

Investigators seized documents and computers during Thursday morning raids at the homes and offices of PCC Vice President for Administrative Services Richard van Pelt and Facilities Services Supervisor Al Hutchings, said Dave Demerjian, head of the D.A.'s Public Integrity Division.

No charges have been filed against van Pelt or Hutchings. Demerjian said his office is trying to determine whether the pair took illegal payments in exchange for granting contracts in 2011.

Van Pelt has wide-ranging authority over campus finances, developing the college's annual budget, overseeing construction and maintenance of campus facilities, managing payroll and even supervising the school's police department and bookstore, according to school documents. He has worked for the college since 1997.

Hutchings, a former Los Angeles police officer convicted of defrauding his employer, oversaw the work of contractors on campus and conducted reference checks on potential employees. He began work for the school in May 2009.

In a brief statement to the press, college President Mark Rocha said an internal review of the college's books did not indicate any public funds were missing. The school has temporarily turned over financial operations to the Glendora-based accounting firm Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman, which will also conduct a forensic audit.

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