PASADENA (CBSLA) – A Los Angeles Unified School District Board member already accused of felony campaign fraud was arrested on allegations of public drunkenness last month in Pasadena, according to a report.
Forty-six-year-old Refugio “Ref” Rodriguez was taken into custody by Pasadena police officers at around 4:30 p.m. on March 16 at the Yard House at the Paseo Mall, a police spokesperson confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
Rodriguez was released without being cited or charged, the spokesperson said.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, claimed to the Times that police took him into custody for his own safety. He thanked officers for “for being kind and seeing this for the non- event that it was.”
In September of last year, Rodriguez – then the LAUSD board president – was charged with perjury and other felonies for allegedly funneling $25,000 of his own money into his school board campaign by reimbursing donors.
A week after the charges were filed, Rodriguez stepped down as president, but chose to remain on the board.
A news conference, organized by the East Area Progressive Democrats, was scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday outside LAUSD headquarters, calling for Rodriguez’s resignation.
Los Angeles County prosecutors allege that Rodriguez reimbursed donors he had listed on a campaign finance form. In October, Rodriguez pled not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution, perjury and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument and 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.
His cousin, 45-year-old Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, was also charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit assumed name contribution and 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed name contribution.
Prosecutors say Rodriguez raised more than $50,000 during the first campaign reporting period that ended in December 2014, and that 25 donors — most of whom were family members and friends — were allegedly paid back $24,250 by Rodriguez and Melendrez.
Rodriguez was elected in 2015 to the District 5 seat on the LAUSD board, representing areas including Atwater Village, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Los Feliz, Mount Washington and Silver Lake. He is a co-founder of Partnerships to Uplift Communities, a series of charter schools in northeast Los Angeles and the northeastern San Fernando Valley.
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