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Legal Ease: Pride Board Members: go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $$$

With the recent controversy that has taken place surrounding an alleged ‘gift’ of $5,000 to San Diego Pride Board Chair Phillip Princetta, the community is wondering what will happen to Pride, the Board, and to the individuals involved. Although it is unclear what will happen to the three offending Board members and to Ron deHarte for being the “whistleblower” in this matter- what is certain, is that the individuals involved in approving the one-time payment should be concerned with potential jail time and other civil penalties.

No matter the amount, the IRS will eventually come after money owed to them and punish any violations. Tax codes can be very complex and non-profit organizations have to be especially careful to follow them specifically. Unfortunately, individuals may still be held civilly and criminally liable even if it was an honest mistake.

Whether the fraud is committed intentionally, through a negligent act, by a simple mistake, or is a series of mistakes, the results can range from a loss of funding or public confidence, to the extreme of criminal charges. Specifically the parties involved could be charged with misappropriation of public funds, conspiracy, fraud, and grand theft.

Due to the outcry of community concern, it is likely that the Attorney General will conduct an investigation. Often in instances like this, the $5,000 could be potentially the tip of the iceberg. The Attorney General can call a grand jury at any time to investigate the books and accounting of San Diego Pride. Although it may take time and a lot of heartache, eventually anyone who did commit fraud or a misuse of funds will have to answer for their actions.

Most important in this situation, is for the community to not lose hope in the Pride organization. San Diego Pride has continued to grow and become more successful with each passing year. As a community this is a time to come together and make sure that this year’s Pride is as good as ever. During the current political climate, our community is watched with a lot of scrutiny. Everyone should be assured that if there is any wrongdoing, those people might suffer criminal consequences depending on their level of culpability and amount of money involved.

Alexis graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2007. In law school she served as Student Body President, Public Relations Director for OUTLaw, and competing member of the Mock Trial team. Upon graduating she accepted an associate position with Anthony J. Solare and was recently named partner. At Solare & Scott, they provide legal services focusing on criminal defense – including juvenile and military cases, family law, and civil litigation. A true believer in justice and equality, Alexis hopes to influence positive change in our legal and political system. You can contact Alexis at 619.234.7575 or online at SolareandScott.com.