John Collins’ past compensation as superintendent of Poway Unified is being investigated by the San Diego County district attorney’s office.

Collins’ legal team cited the existence of the criminal probe in a court filing Tuesday, arguing a lawsuit filed by the school district should be postponed while the criminal investigation is under way.

Poway Unified is suing Collins in civil court for fraud and seeking to recover more than $300,000 of what it says was unauthorized pay. Collins was fired in July after forensic auditors found vacation cash-outs and compounded longevity pay boosted Collins’ compensation above the amount afforded in his contract. The lawsuit also accuses Collins of using district money to seek restraining orders without board approval, among other issues.

Collins has denied any wrongdoing and no criminal charges have been filed. A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office declined to confirm the existence of an investigation.

In the Jan. 3 filing, Collins’ attorneys ask to delay all civil proceedings “until the conclusion of an ongoing investigation” by the district attorney. “Counsel is informed that the San Diego District Attorney’s Office is investigating the allegations made in this civil action for possible criminal prosecution.”

The filing also says Collins plans to “assert his rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution until a determination is made whether criminal charges will be pursued,” and therefore, will not respond to deposition questions or school district requests for discovery in the civil case.

Lawyers for the district and Collins were scheduled to discuss the request with San Diego Superior Court Judge Richard E.L. Strauss Wednesday morning.

Calls to Collins’ attorney Paul Pfingst and Poway Unified’s attorney Maribel Medina were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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