Centinela Superintendent's Assets Are Frozen After Facing Embezzlement Charges


Centinela Valley Union High School superintendent Joe Fernandez was arrested on Wednesday, August 30, 2017, for embezzlement and public corruption. Ten days prior to his arrest, prosecutors obtained a temporary restraining order to freeze his assets. The restraining order was issued by a superior court judge to eliminate the possibility of Fernandez using his house to make bail or pay for his defense. The home was allegedly purchased with a $910,000 low interest loan that was issued from the district. Steven Lasiter of the L.A. County District Attorney's Office had a reason to believe that Fernandez would liquidate the asset through private sale once he was aware of the charges that were being brought against him. Prosecutors froze 17 bank accounts that were in Fernandez's name. Fernandez is scheduled to appear in Torrance Superior Court on Friday, September 1, 2017, to face his arraignment. Fernandez is being charged with 12 felony counts. Some of these counts include: grand theft, conflict-of-interest, and embezzlement. The charges against Fernandez were filed after three years when Fernandez was earning $663,000 in a tiny district. During the investigation, prosecutors revealed that donations were being made to a campaigns that appeared to be coming from the district's construction projects. Since then, the district attorney's office has finally opened up its own investigation regarding Fernandez's activities. The affidavit also alleges that Fernandez made himself the administrator for the district funded retirement program which also gave him benefits of $294,000. Fernandez ended up having the shortest work year than any of the employees. While employees work 285 days, Fernandez only worked 180 days, which would have made him part-time with the amount of hours he worked. Lastly, Fernandez failed to mention to the assistant superintendent that he was in bankruptcy and foreclosure when he was provided with the $910,000 loan.