Calif. school chief convicted in conflict-of-interest case

January 30, 1993

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The state schools superintendent was found guilty yesterday of using his office to steer lucrative public contracts to an education foundation his wife headed.

A Sacramento County jury reached the verdict after less than three hours of deliberation in the third week of the trial. Mr. Honig sat quietly at the defense table as the guilty verdict was announced for each of four conflict-of-interest charges.

Mr. Honig, 55, could be sentenced to up to five years in jail. He was immediately suspended from official duties and will be removed from his elected post when he is sentenced. Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 26 in Superior Court. Mr. Honig said he wouldn't resign before then.

Mr. Honig, an educator-lawyer, was convicted of using his office to steer publicly funded contracts to the Quality Education Project or QEP, a nonprofit foundation once headed by his wife, Nancy, and aimed at getting parents involved in schools.

Defense attorney Patrick Hallinan said Mr. Honig was a victim of political and personal enemies, targeted by hostile elements in the Department of Education and elsewhere.

The prosecution contended that Mr. Honig indirectly benefited because QEP paid his wife a salary, income that ultimately went partly to Mr. Honig through the state's community property laws.

Mr. Hallinan said QEP's resources were offered to local school districts and "of the $7 million [that went to QEP], not one penny came from the state Department of Education, not one dime came from the local school districts. It's a classic case of no harm, no foul," he said.

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