SAN JOSE- On December 14, 2017, longtime Franklin-McKinley School District Board Member John Lindner, 55, turned himself in amid criminal charges of grand theft, perjury, and violations of the Political Reform Act – five felonies and five misdemeanors - for spending money raised for a public school bond measure on himself and then hiding it in required campaign disclosure filings.
Following an investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission (“FPPC”) Lindner, 55, is accused of spending $16,000 of the campaign’s money on airline tickets, lumber, and other personal expenses. He also, allegedly, loaned $12,000 of the campaign money to a relative, which was later paid back.
The FPPC investigation showed that Lindner was the treasurer in control of a campaign fund for an ultimately successful 2010 bond measure intended to improve aging schools. After the measure passed, Lindner allegedly used the remaining campaign funds to make personal purchases of lumber and travel. He also allegedly withdrew cash and transferred money to his personal bank account.
By July 2012, the trustee had allegedly bled the account almost dry. However, Lindner continued to file periodic disclosure forms reporting that the fund still had $13,000.
According to the investigation, In 2016, he filed a final report, terminating the campaign committee by claiming that more than $13,000 was distributed in amounts less than $100 to “Unnamed Civic Donation Recipients.” This unusual report caught the attention of the Registrar of Voters, who reported it to the FPPC. The FPPC fined Lindner after it determined the report was false and that Lindner had stolen the money.
Lindner is scheduled to be arraigned on January 19, 2018. He faces jail time and a large fine if convicted of these crimes. Each of the misdemeanor counts is punishable by a fine of up to three times the amount of money the defendant failed to report properly, which means that a total fine could exceed $250,000.
“Stealing funds meant for a campaign, is just that, stealing,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Fortunately FPPC has special investigators who can uncover this type of illegal activity and work with local district attorneys to assist in the prosecution.”