This story has been updated since it was first published.

A lawsuit involving two fired school officials reveals details into bribery allegations that may be the centerpiece of a District Attorney’s investigation of the two men.

The lawsuit targets ex-Vice President of Administrative Services Richard van Pelt and former Facilities supervisor Alfred Hutchings and was filed by LED Global, a firm that lost the bidding for new lighting on campus.

Philip Layfield, the attorney that represents LED Global, confirmed that the allegations made in the lawsuit are the same allegations that make up the DAs investigation. “That is correct,” Layfield said. “Our documentation is the same documentation that the DA is using.”

A counter suit was also filed by van Pelt and Hutchings which claims that LED Global conspired to commit fraud and slander them. They deny all the allegations.

Van Pelt and Hutchings were both fired when the school found out the DA was investigating them for “conflicts of interest.” The two men had founded a company together, Sustainagistics, which according to the California Secretary of State specialized in import logistics.

“My clients are outraged, its a total fabrication,” said John Schmocker who represents van Pelt and Hutchings. “The problem is [LED Global] are fraudsters and tricksters and they’re trying to manipulate the District Attorney.”

In the complaint filed July 26 in the Los Angeles Superior Court, LED Global LLC and its two principals Robert Das and Saila Smith accuse van Pelt and Hutchings of a host of hedonistic requests on top of a solicitation of bribes.

According to the complaints, van Pelt and Hutchings had offered LED Global a “purchase agreement” to the tune of $5 million after the company agreed to numerous requests, including expensive travel for van Pelt and Hutchings to Mumbai for a factory site visit.

“During the course of making arrangements for the factory site visit to Mumbai, Hutchings and van Pelt began to make unusual and expensive requests,” the court document says.

The requests included business class travel, accommodation at five star hotels (the Four Seasons in Mumbai), an excursion to the Taj Mahal, more than $2,000 worth of Cuban Cigars, and the demand for prostitutes, which, LED Global denies providing.

Van Pelt and Hutchings also requested they be paid $250,000 in commission for the contract they made with PCC and, after introducing LED Global to other community colleges, “to be personally paid by [LED Global] a 5 percent commission on the value of any contract entered into between LED Global and any other college in the State of California.”

These commissions were to be paid to an off-shore bank account, according to the lawsuit.

Last week,  van Pelt and Hutchings filed a cross-complaint in which they claim “[LED Global] conspired and agreed among themselves that if they did not receive the substantial lighting contract with Pasadena City College, they would instead accuse [van Pelt and Huthings] of alleged wrongdoing and would seek substantial damages against [van Pelt and Hutchings] to compensation for the lost contract money.”

The court document then alleges LED Global’s acts were “done knowingly,” with “malicious intent,” and the “statements and representations about [themselves] have caused each of them [van Pelt and Hutchings] to lose his respective job and income from Pasadena City College and my have far reaching consequences as far as future ability to obtain other employment.”

In the initial complaint, representatives of LED Global claim they felt Hutchings was flexing his muscle as a former police officer with the LAPD. Hutchings allegedly bragged about beating and killing people as a means to “intimidate and implicity threaten [LED Global].”

In the cross-complaint, van Pelt and Hutchings state they were also threatened with physical harm if they did not complete the contract.

The Courier is reporting this story and will add details as they become available.

6 Replies to “Suit lays bare details of bribery case against fired officials”

  1. It’s very hard for me to imagine Hutchings bragging about beating or killing anyone as a cop, and I think anyone that knows him would agree. This whole seems off to me.

  2. There is something about the allegations in this suit that just rings true. Van Pelt got his way through threats and intimidation; the entire Facilities Services Department was scared of him and his henchmen.
    When the DA agents ransacked their offices, you could just hear the chorus of “Ding, dong the bitch is dead!”
    Whores? It fits! First class travel? On the money! (Didn’t he take a limo to the airport?) A quarter-million dollars? Chump change when you can plunder a $110-million budget! Taj Mahal? Can anyone say, MACmansion?
    Let the jury decide.

  3. Both Saila Smith and Robert Das are liars and have committed fraud over and over!

    PUT THEM IN JAIL! How long must these grifters go on without facing the law!!!

    They told employees they had this lighting deal and read a letter to us from ‘CFO’ Van Pelt. All lies and now they are trying to sue because no one wanted to purchase their junk products!

    They even told me that they would have no problem purchasing a car for someones daughters 16th birthday, if that were the case.

  4. I don’t know about the bribes but asking to see a factory in India before signing a $5 million contract seems responsible. It also doesn’t seem out of line or extravagant to want to travel “business class” on a 17+ hour trip nor for someone to request a 4 or 5 star hotel if they never traveled to Mumbai before. Having traveled there I can say that many “good” hotels are sketchy…and it also is traditional for most people to see the Taj Mahal. So the rest of the allegations start to wobble when these first things seem so ridiculous to state in a law suit.

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