Leticia Garcia and Acquanetta Warren

Ryan Carter, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/17/2011 06:47:45 PM PDT

FONTANA – School board member Leticia Garcia apologized Monday for not telling the public that she is married to a man convicted of murder, even as the mayor called for her to step down from her leadership position on the board.

“There will be a lot of people who don’t understand why I did what I did,” Garcia said. “I’m sorry for those people I’ve hurt.”

Garcia admitted last week that she told voters she was divorced, despite her marriage since 2002 to Jason Garcia, who after 27 years in prison for murder was released in September. Her admission included an affair with San Bernardino attorney Tim Prince, a local Democratic Party leader.

Garcia’s story has buzzed through Fontana after being broadcast on the radio and being published in local papers.

After a weekend of hearing her phone ring off the hook – more than she’s heard it on any other public issue – Mayor Acquanetta Warren called for Garcia to step down Monday from her leadership position on the board.

“She needs to the do the right thing and step down as vice chair of the board,” she said. “She, at a minimum, should not be in a position to represent this group.”

Warren, whose mayoral power does not extend over the school board, said it wasn’t necessarily the relationship, but rather that she lied about it after establishing herself as a government watchdog – for months preaching the importance of governmental transparency.

Not long after she came into office in November, Garcia questioned the expense and viability of an after-school program.

Warren said that those critiques were welcomed.

But in the wake of what she called Garcia’s lie, Fontana’s reputation has taken a huge hit at a time when the city and the county are dealing with a range of delicate issues, from deep budget cuts to corruption charges.

“The biggest problem is, we don’t want drama,” she said. “We’re trying to give Fontana a different name. It’s all about how we present ourselves to the public.”

And in this case, Warren said, Garcia presented herself based on a lie.

But the fallout was spreading in Garcia’s world too.

For days now she’s been receiving messages from Fontana residents, very much opposite to what the mayor said she’s been receiving.

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