Aug 28, 2013 8:03 PM by Matthew Schwartz
Bobby Garcia called himself "The most qualified candidate" when he ran for the Sunnyside School Board last November. He emphasized that he was a graduate of Sunnyside schools, a life-long Tucsonan, and a retired city police officer, who spent 25 years on the job. The 50 year-old former cop got the most votes of all four candidates, easily winning a school board seat.
But Bobby Garcia apparently never told constituents about some reports in his official police record: He was suspended twice for department violations that might seem especially outrageous for someone now on a school board. The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that in 1997, Garcia was suspended for 20 days without pay for having a relationship with a teenaged girl.
Garcia told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "I signed a paper saying I would accept my 20-day suspension. I never signed anything saying that I committed or made a criminal act. I will look you straight in the eye and tell you, I have never done anything wrong in these reports."
The same police report Garcia signed states that he was 13 years older than the girl, and began a personal relationship with her when she was 15 or 16. We asked Garcia, "Did you have a relationship with an underage girl?" He replied, " No, I did not." We then followed-up, "Then why did you sign this?" Garcia answered, "I had no choice to sign it. If I didn't sign it I would get terminated."
The report also states that on one occasion, apparently after the girl turned 18, Garcia arranged a sexual liason between her and another person, and that, quote, "he was present, if not a participant in the sexual activity, which then occured."
Garcia told us, "I was in the area, but I never was involved in any of that. That was between those two people.
Another police report says that in 1995, then Officer Garcia broke into the home of a former girlfriend, had a physical confrontation with her, and then initiated an unauthorized investigation of a male friend of hers. Garcia told us this Internal Affairs investigative report is also not true.
"I don't recall exactly what happened," he explained, "but there was no blood or blood spilled or anything like that." We said, "There doesn't have to be blood for there to be a physical confrontation. Did you attack your ex-girlfriend in this house? He replied, "No, no, I did not."
TheT-P-D in1996 gave Garcia a two-day suspension for that incident.
Garcia said, "It doesn't mean you're guilty, because the County Attorney dismissed the case, the Tucson Police Department dismissed the case."
We asked him, "Why wouldn't you sue the police department? This is terrible stuff they're saying about you, and you're telling me that they're lying." Garcia answered, "I had bills, I had family, I had life, and I had to move on."
Garcia, along with four other Sunnyside School Board members, is now facing a recall. The News 4 Tucson Investigators have learned that Garcia also is now dealing with another problem.
Laura Cruz is the mother of Garcia's 12 year-old granddaughter, and is involved in a nasty custody battle with Garcia's son. Cruz earlier this month filed an injunction against harrassment against Garcia. She told us about Garcia, "He was following me, taking pictures of me, threatening me. And I think it's unfortunate that he's on the school board. I think people of Sunnyside should realize who's representing them.
Garcia's response: "Have I had my granddaughter followed by somebody? Yes," he said. We asked, "Did you follow Laura?" He answered, "No." We asked, "Did you threaten or intimidate her in any way?" "Never. I have not seen Laura in months."
Cruz summed up her feelings about Garcia this way: "I feel that he's a liar, and he's a fake, a fraud."
In the interest of full disclosure, we should tell you that Laura Cruz worked briefly at KVOA-TV more than two years ago, as a news intern and a salesperson. However, we didn't know she worked here until she told us earlier this week, and we began this investigation long before that.
Remember if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.