LAUSD board member pleads not guilty to money laundering

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Los Angeles Unified School Board member Ref Rodriguez pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three felony charges and 25 misdemeanor charges related to campaign donation reimbursements during his 2015 election, which prosecutors say was part of a money laundering scheme.

Rodriguez, who surrendered his passport as part of the terms of release, is due back in court Dec. 13 along with his cousin, Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, also charged in the alleged money laundering, according to LA School Report. If convicted, Rodriguez could spend up to four years and four months in jail.

Prosecutors allege that Rodriguez illegally reimbursed about $25,000 to 25 donors (mostly friends and family) in December 2014. Then, he signed a campaign finance form naming these donors as legitimate, which prosecutors say earned him a perjury charge.

Rodriguez has maintained his innocence.

“As the product of an immigrant family, nobody has more respect for the integrity of the American justice system than I do,” he said in a September statement. “I have cooperated with authorities and hope these issues will be resolved expeditiously and fairly.”

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