District Attorney yet to file charges against former Poway Schools chief

John Collins accused of stealing $345K in school funds

Collins was the second-highest-paid schools chief in California.
  • Collins was the second-highest-paid schools chief in California.
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It's been more than one year and two months since former superintendent for Poway Unified School District John Collins was placed on administrative leave over accusations that he collected $345,263 in vacation pay over the course of three years and still no criminal charges have been filed.

In a July 24 email, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office confirmed that no charges have been filed.

In January of this year a civil lawsuit filed by the school district was placed on hold until a potential criminal investigation could be conducted.

Attorneys for Poway Unified and Collins will meet on July 28 for a case management conference with Superior Court judge Richard Strauss, which could mean the civil case will move forward. Attorneys for each side did not respond to calls and messages requesting information.

According to the complaint filed by Poway Unified in July 2016, from 2013 on Collins, who at the time of his suspension was the second-highest-paid schools chief in California, directed staff to issue him checks for vacation time. The district claims that Collins had several substantial withdrawals from the revolving cash fund to pay for, among other items, his internet and cable bills.

At the time, according to text messages recovered on Collins' district-issued iPad, Collins and his wife had been experiencing financial problems.

The district placed Collins on administrative leave in May 2016 after discovering the missing funds and after requests from Collins to get the district buy him out of his contract. In July 2016 the district fired Collins and less than a week later filed a civil suit looking to recover the $354,263.

Collins has denied any wrongdoing. He and his attorney, Paul Pfingst, have called the financial reports used against Collins "replete with errors, both legal and substantive, including privacy violations of Dr. Collins and others....Dr. Collins will vigorously defend against these charges, and expects to take affirmative and decisive action in response to the district’s actions."

While the case was placed on hold in January 2017 due to a potential criminal investigation, no determination has yet been made. The district attorney's spokesperson was only able to confirm that no charges have yet been filed.

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I might have thought that county supervisor-aspirant Bonnie Donothing would have left this as an easy win for Summer Incumbent to prosecute, but then realized he's accused of general corruption, self-dealing, lack of transparency, and arrogant dismissal of following rules. Of course they're not going to go after him—he's one of them!

You are bringing the matter into focus. Bahnee D doesn't/didn't go looking for corrupt politicians to take down, even though there were many. One exception was the So County school district cases when the conduct was so outrageous that she had to do something. (Or had the Atty Gen threatened to take it over if local efforts were not forthcoming?) But after filing nearly 300 counts, including many felonies, involving 15 perps, she went wobbly on it, and let them off lightly.

This case is different, in that it involves Poway, which has a super-high opinion of itself and its schools. Why, it had the best supe in the state, didn't they? His wildly elevated pay proved it. But it may just be the situation that the case of criminal conduct isn't all that strong, and his behavior wasn't the flagrant type. So, letting this one slide may be the best all-round strategy for the old boys/girls club at the DA's office.

Odd, though, that the CFO who was also charged originally is still on the job. Ugly business.

I'm sure Teflon Bonnie or Super Summer will eventually get around to getting a conviction for a misdemeanor or two--anything to keep up that lofty conviction rate that Teflon Bonnie always likes to crow about.

Summer Stephan always looks so sad, like she's ready to cry.

While I'll agree Ms. Dumanis does very little she is just the elected head. What about the subordinates who actually run the so called pubic integrity unit. These are highly compensatated DA5s with salaries/benefits in excess of 200K annually. Maybe The Reader should investigate what they do, not just the elected figurehead.

PRA has been submitted. Thanks for the great idea, JW. -dH

The 2015 OrgChart, the newest one I could find, shows Paul Azevedo and Fiona Khalil as heading the pubic integrity portion of the DA's Special Ops. Come to think of it the whole orgchart looks pretty heavy on bureaucrats who push paper collecting substantial salaries.

Thanks. This is definitely something worth looking into. I am waiting for a response that the DA received my PRA. I appreciate the help!-dH

Can we say "sinecure", boys and girls?

UPDATE: Voice of San Diego and others are reporting that the DA filed five felony charges against Collins last Friday, August 4. The charges include three felonies for misappropriation of funds, one felony for misuse of public funds, and one for failing to file an economic disclosure form.


It finally made the U-T yesterday, Wed, August 9. No explanation of why it took so long, but don't expect anything like that from this or the previous DA. Stories like that one that appear in the U-T days after we see them elsewhere are a real indicator of how weak their local coverage is. I have to say that the paper should include a motto. It has none now, so it could say "Yesterday's news today." Now I know that's been suggested before, but it really is true now.

Dorian....I am former employee of the City of San Diego...I am in possession of documents that during my employment in the City, the following individuals in the City participated in stealing about $150,000 from Public Fund in projects of "Camino Del Sur Inside Lane Widening, T6". The fund was stolen by submission of an Unlawful Change Order by brother of one of the City managers, who was the CEO of Black Mountain Ranch, LLC (Developer).

1- Darren Greenhalgh (Deputy Director) 2- Lisa Adams (Section Head) 3- Mike Arnold (Supervising engineer) 4- James Nagelvoort (Director of the City of SD Public Works Department who attempted to fraudulently conceal this robbery type financial corruption). 5- David Zoumaras (Deputy Director of the City Field Engineering Division who fraudulently attempted to conceal this robbery type financial corruption). 6- Daniel Mottola (Manager of HR in the City who fraudulently attempted to conceal this conduct). 7- Hadi Dehghani (Director of the City Personnel Department who fraudulently attempted to conceal this conduct)

I was a whistle blower about this matter and even received items in my Performance Evaluation. I am in possession of the evidences and Email Communications about this conducts, in case you decide to publish them in San Diego Reader.

RESULTS, sort of.


Another crook gets away with it because it’s OPM. And, Collins forfeits none of his pension because his attorney and the DA negotiate felonies down to a misdemeanor. Who says crime doesn’t pay. White collar crime pays very well, and in this case $185k a year for the rest of this crook’s life.

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