Statement by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas

Indictment of James Fleming and Susan McGill

May 24, 2007


There are persons who hold certain respected positions of trust in our community.  We entrust our taxpayer funds with elected officials, our safety with law enforcement officers, our spiritual well-being with religious leaders, and our children’s future with educators.


This morning, the court unsealed the indictment against two defendants which marks the prosecution of the highest ranking school officials in Orange County’s history. 


Ten days ago, the Orange County Grand Jury indicted James Fleming, who was the Capistrano Unified School District Superintendent from 1991 to 2006, and Assistant Superintendent Susan McGill, who worked for Capistrano Unified for 25 years in various positions.


The Orange County District Attorney’s Office began our official investigation of CUSD in February, 2006. 


Some of the subject matters we examined were allegations against the 7-member Board of Trustees engaging in conflicts of interest and holding non-public meetings, and school officials conducting election and political activities using taxpayer funds and taking away resources from the students at Capistrano Unified. 


This indictment covers the last part of the inquiries.  The Grand Jury heard from 14 witnesses, on 14 days from August 16, 2006 to May 9, 2007, and examined 22 documents. 


Former Superintendent James Fleming has been charged with three felonies: 

Count 1 – misappropriation of public funds;

Count 2 – use of school funds to defeat a recall effort of his political allies;

Count 3 – conspiracy. 

If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. 


Former Assistant Susan McGill has been charged with two felony counts:  conspiracy and perjury.  If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. 


The Capistrano Unified School District covers the citizens of seven cities and five unincorporated communities in South Orange County, 50,000 students, 56 campuses, 4,750 teachers and staff, and a $563 million annual budget. 


That is a lot of money, all of it should be spent on educating our children. 


In early 2005, concerned citizens and parents organized a recall movement because they believed Fleming and the Trustees had been mismanaging the District for many years.