De La Cerda pleads not guilty, set to return on criminal charges

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Paul De La Cerda, the former Saugus Union School District board president and East Los Angeles College dean, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of embezzlement, being given a future date to appear in court.  

De La Cerda, who is also currently listed as an active member of the city of Santa Clarita Human Relations Roundtable, has been charged with overbilling his employer for trips he took when he was dean of ELAC.  

“My office will continue to strive to root out public corruption in order to make government clean,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement on the day charges were filed in December. 

Between March 2017 and 2019, the defendant is accused of overbilling East Los Angeles College roughly $1,575 for several hotel stays. He allegedly forged documents he submitted for reimbursement. 

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Fraud and Cyber Crimes. 

De La Cerda began his tenure on the Saugus Union School District board in 2005 and served three consecutive terms of four years, plus one additional year to align the election cycle years. He also served in 2008-2010 in a marketing position for The Signal. 

De La Cerda is set to return to court on Feb. 17.  

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