A longtime San Jose school board member is accused of swindling nearly $30,000 from school bond measure funds, prosecutors said.
John Lindner, a member of the Franklin-McKinley School District Board, allegedly spent $16,000 of campaign finances on airline tickets, lumber, and other personal items. He also let a relative borrow $12,000, but that amount was later returned, according to prosecutors.
The 55-year-old turned himself in around 12 p.m. Thursday. Charged with grand theft, perjury, and violations of the Political Reform Act, Lindner is out on $35,000 bail.
“Aggravating matters is that nearly all of the money donated in support of the school bond measure came from developers, contractors, and architects,” Deputy District Attorney John Chase said in a statement. “While at the same time the defendant, who kept much of this money for his own use, was a member of the school board that makes decisions about how the bond money will ultimately be spent.”
Lindner was the treasurer of a campaign fund behind a successful bond measure to improve the conditions of aging public schools in the district. However, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) found that he used the remaining funds once the measure was approved.
"By July 2012, the trustee had bled the account almost dry," prosecutors said in a statement, noting that Lindner hid the embezzlement in campaign disclosure forms that said $13,000 were still in the fund.
The Registrar of Voters noticed in a 2016 report that Lindner claimed to have distributed the outstanding balance "in amounts less than $100 to 'Unnamed Civic Donation Recipients,'" the statement said.
The "unusual" activity was reported to the FPPC, resulted in an investigation and Lindner's crimes were unearthed, prosecutors said.
Lindner could spend time in jail and be fined, if convicted. Each misdemeanor count is punishable by a fine of up to three times the amount he stole, which could surpass $250,000, according to prosecutors.
Lindner will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 19.