Carlos Gudarrama, listed on the Associated Students of UC Merced’s (ASUCM) website as the External Vice President (EVP), was on trial Thursday, March 9 for misappropriation of funds. The case against him was based on the one of his staff members, the Organizing Director, who is no longer a student at UC Merced, but stayed on as staff.
According to the prosecution, Gudarrama was aware of the unnamed staff members change in enrollment and looked the other way until he was forced to let the director go. In that time, the Organizing Director traveled with Carlos on at least one trip using ASUCM funds, which is a breach of the organization’s bylaws. Internal Vice President, Gabriel Hulbert, also stated for the record that ASUCM student fees were used by the Organizing Director during this time. ASUCM President Katelyn Fitzgerald, who served as a witness, stated the EVP hinted at knowing about the director’s status, but was unable to provide hard evidence.
The defense, though struggling at the start of the trial, did gain ground as the proceedings continued. Gudarrama repeatedly stated the fault fell squarely on the shoulders of the ASUCM President and ASUCM advisor, both of whom knew of the transgression before he did. Gudarrama’s defense began with the statement that he did not know about the Organizing Director’s non-student status. Unlike Fitzgerald, Guadarrama was able to submit hard evidence to demonstrate he was unaware of the director’s status such as Facebook messages and emails. Gudarrama ended his statement by inquiring as to whether or not other ASUCM directors, including those at his hearing, actively asked their staffs about student statuses. The directors declined to answer.
The statements were followed by intense questioning from the court. Hulbert ended by announcing that he wanted to reimburse OSL regardless of the outcome of the trial for the funds the Organizing Director had used. The Justices withdrew to deliberate and come to a decision, to be announced next week.
Check back next week for an update on this story when the recordings of the trial are made public. The Prodigy News notes that the ASUCM camera may have failed to record the entirety of the trial.
Photo Credit: ASUCM website, Ashley Ramos
UPDATE: Carlos Gudarrama was pronounced innocent by the court. Read the full transcript here.