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EL PASO, TX — Former El Paso School Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia is likely headed for prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to conspiracy and fraud.
Garcia broke down in tears in front of the judge when asked how he plead.
The judge even had to ask him a second time after not getting a response. Finally Garcia wiped his tears, cleared his throat and responded "guilty".
Garcia and his attorneys refused to comment on the plea.
Garcia plead guilty to asking district employees to "do whatever possible" to help raise the scores of the district's Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP test results.
The higher the scores, the more money the district would receive through "No Child Left Behind".
The U.S. government says district employees asked students to stay home on testing days if they didn't think they would help the scores. All under the direction of Garcia.
Investigators also say Garcia's contract awarded him bonuses based on student performance.
he spoke to the media last summer after being arrested on four counts.
Resigning as Superintendent didn't seem to be on his mind.
"Number one, our school district, you know, we're gearing up to start a new school year, and we're certainly going to be ready. I'm glad that I'm out today, this evening, so that we can continue to move forward,” said Garcia.
Then, in November Garcia announced he would be leaving the district.
"... My resignation should not be perceived as an admission of guilt,” Garcia said in a written statement.
While Garcia was on unpaid administrative leave, the district said even if Garcia resigned or was fired, they'd owe him thousands of dollars in vacation and sick days.
Garcia also pleaded guilty to directing a contract for almost half a million dollars to his personal friend Tracy Rose for classroom posters.
The government says both Garcia and Rose failed to let the board know about their personal relationship.
Despite U.S. attorneys saying Garcia was cheating El Paso tax payers out of thousands of dollars, he told our cameras in 2010 that funds were so low, he had no other option but to cut the district's budget by $45 million dollars.
"The money is really needed so we can continue to support our schools,” said Garcia.
Garcia will be free on bond until the court sentences him on September 14, 2012. The government is requesting that he spend three and half years in prison.
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