A former Saugus High School principal accused of perjury and being financially interested in a contract made by him in his official capacity as principal pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor violation of the state’s government code.
As part of a plea deal to avoid trial on felony charges, Bill Bolde, who works at The Master’s University as its executive director of career services and advancement, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor violation of Government Code section 87100.
That section of code states: “No public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making or in any way attempt to use his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows or has reason to know he has a financial interest.”
In exchange for his plea, Bolde was sentenced to one year of summary, or informal, probation, a $1,000 restitution fund fine and 50 hours of community service, according to Greg Risling, spokesman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.
The trial puts an end to Bolde’s potential legal jeopardy over years-old allegations regarding his involvement in a Chinese foreign-exchange program at Saugus High.
A statement from the D.A.’s office in March said that Bolde helped set up a student exchange program in Gaoxin, China, and created a nonprofit to run the program.
“He is charged with having a conflict of interest because he was still principal at Saugus High School while he had an employment agreement with the nonprofit. Bolde also is charged with lying on disclosure forms,” according to the statement.
Bolde’s attorney, David Diamond, described the charges as the fruits of a frivolous lawsuit by a disgruntled employee who wanted to run the program instead of Bolde.
“Bill was given the option of going to trial, where I believe he would have prevailed, or taking this very low-grade misdemeanor,” according to a statement from Diamond. “Given the financial and emotional burdens of a five- to six-week trial or accepting a plea deal whereby the entire matter will be dismissed in one year was an easy decision.”
Bolde originally was charged with the two counts and an arrest warrant was issued by Superior Court of Los Angeles Judge Armenui Ashvanian in December 2021.
Bolde has been at TMU for four years, according to the college’s website. He retired from his previous role in 2017 after 37 years with the William S. Hart Union High School District.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney RJ Dreiling.