Six ex-SD pension Officials Bound Over for Trial

January 17, 2006 ( - A California state judge has ruled that six former San Diego city retirement board members must stand trial on charges they broke a state conflict-of-interest law.

Superior Court Judge Frederic Link ended an unusually long pretrial hearing last week by swiftly ruling there was enough evidence to reasonably decide that the former officials committed a crime in 2002 by voting to approve a plan that allowed the city to put less money into the retirement system in return for larger pensions, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.

Link was careful to point out that the ruling means only that prosecutors presented enough evidence to warrant a trial. Over four weeks of testimony and arguments, defense lawyers aggressively challenged every aspect of the case filed last May by the District Attorney’s Office .

But Link also said it was clear that the votes the board members cast were linked to a package of enhanced retirement benefits that all city workers – including the defendants – were in line to get.

The judge also made it clear that in some respects the defendants – several of whom were on the board because the City Charter required them to be – were being erroneously cast as the only people responsible for the pension problem.

Bound over for trial were:

  • Cathy Lexin: former labor relations manager who played a key role in preparing the 1996 and 2002 underfunding deals. 
  • Ron Saathoff: president of San Diego City Firefighters Local 145.
  • Sharon Wilkinson: city management analyst, 1992 to April 2005.
  • John Torres: vice president of the Municipal Employees Association, the largest labor union for city employees.
  • Mary Vattimo: former city treasurer.
  • Terri Webster: former San Diego assistant city auditor.