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Ex-EPISD superintendent Lorenzo Garcia sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison

By Rick Cabrera, Anchor, rickcabrera@yahoo.com
Matthew Smith
Published On: Oct 05 2012 11:45:33 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2012 02:33:20 PM CDT

EL PASO, Texas -

Ex-El Paso Independent School District superintendent Lorenzo Garcia was sentenced Friday to 3 1/2 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in June to federal charges of steering a contract to his mistress and fixing state and federal test scores.

He also will have to pay $180,000 in restitution to EPISD and $56,500 to the state. The amount being paid to the state equals the same amount of bonus money he received from reaching test scores, the judge said.

As Garcia walked into the courtroom he made little eye contact with anyone in the packed courtroom.

"Your honor, I would not like to make any comments. As superintendent I am responsible for all things that occur in the district," Garcia said.

There was an audible sigh when U.S. District Judge David Briones recommended Garcia serve his sentence at La Tuna Federal Correctional Institution in Anthony, Texas.

Former Jefferson High School principal Steven Lane gave an impact statement Friday, saying that Garcia presented himself as a man of integrity and a family man when the two first met.

Lane's impact statement also mentioned how he was removed as principal and how he had to deal with threats, intimidation and harassment from Garcia and the district.

"It's a small relief (and a) sense that justice prevailed," Lane told ABC-7 after the sentencing. "I'm not certain that any amount of prison time, any amount of money can make up for the damage that was done to the students and to the district. After witnessing what I just witnessed, I would ask that the people who supported Dr. Garcia during this reign of terror for five years - it's time to resign"

In August 2011, Garcia was indicted on federal charges and accused of defrauding the district by steering a contract to a girlfriend's company back when he in 2006.

Garcia, who was married at the time, also pleaded guilty in June to taking part in the El Paso Independent School District's standardized test score manipulation scandal.

In the coming weeks, we could also learn of co-conspirators that took part in Garcia's scheme.

Federal documents mention several unidentified people who have not been charged. It is still unclear if they worked for EPISD.

In past weeks, EPISD has made changes to personnel within the district and at a local high school.

Former Bowie High School principal Jesus Chavez was removed in May from his position after allegations of forging documents and student success rates.

Chavez was hired in April 2008.

Myrna Gamboa was also removed from her position as director of secondary schools for EPISD.

Canutillo Independent School District Superintendent, Damon Murphy has also come under question.

In April, a federal investigation of EPISD revealed that a four-year-old email from Murphy's account appeared to encourage grade manipulation while he was an associate superintendent at EPISD.

Murphy has maintained he did nothing wrong.

Terri Jordan, was interim superintendent for EPISD until last month when she went back to her position of chief of staff.

Jordan served as chief of staff for Garcia.

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