Case dismissed

Case dismissed

Judge tosses bribery lawsuit against two former top Pasadena City College officials

By André Coleman 10/16/2013

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A lawsuit which led to the dismissal of two Pasadena City College administrators was thrown out of court earlier this month after officials with an energy company the two officials were doing business with left the country, skipping two court-ordered hearings related to the suit.

In the lawsuit, filed in July 2012, officials with Los Angeles-based LED Global, which manufactures energy-efficient light bulbs, claimed that former Pasadena City College Vice President of Administrative Services Richard van Pelt and Facilities Services Supervisor Alfred Hutchings asked LED Global officials for a trip to India in exchange for a $5-million contract with the college.

The company claimed it had paid for the trip, but while in India LED Global officials alleged that the men asked to be put up in a lavish hotel and provided with prostitutes, limousines and $2,000 worth of Cuban cigars. The suit also alleged the men began demanding a 5 percent kickback on the proposed $5 million lighting contract with PCC.

LED Global owners Robert Das and Salia Smith said they granted most of the requests, but said they did not provide prostitutes for the college officials.

LED Global was never awarded the contract and complained to college officials about the incident. College officials did not know about the trip or the proposed business deal and immediately opened an investigation into the matter, as did the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office.

Shortly after the allegations were made public, the PCC Board of Trustees voted to fire Hutchings and van Pelt, and the DA's Office served search warrants at the homes and campus offices of the two men, removing documents and computer equipment.

But things turned in favor of van Pelt and Hutchings last month, when Das and Smith skipped a mandatory settlement conference. Das and Smith were sanctioned $3,000 by the court for their failure to appear. The two were ordered to appear at another hearing in Los Angeles, which they also skipped. At that point, the judge dismissed the case.

College officials did not return calls for comment on this story.

"The dismissal of the case was a long time coming, because Das and Smith did not have a single piece of evidence that could support their wild claims," wrote Schmocker in a prepared statement. "The harm caused to van Pelt and Hutchings can never be repaired, and a malicious prosecution lawsuit against Das and Smith is being prepared and will be filed if they return to California."

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