STUBBLEFIELD: The official says he will finish the last year of his final term.

11:10 PM PST on Monday, November 23, 2009

By DUG BEGLEY and RICHARD K. DE ATLEY
The Press-Enterprise

San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield says he intends to stay in office and fight the political corruption charges he faces, insisting that development decisions made by the City Council he sits on were appropriate.

When he ran for re-election in 2006, Stubblefield called for responsible growth in the city. The city’s general plan was adopted during his first term, and three major commercial developments were approved, including a Walmart Supercenter.

“By holding developers accountable for what they’re building and holding them to higher standards, we’ve been able to entice not only just the three commercial centers; we’ve had numerous calls from regional malls, because we’re moving on the right path,” he said in 2006.

Now Stubblefield is one of nine defendants, including four San Jacinto City Council members, named in a 155-count indictment issued Nov. 12.

Stubblefield, 41, said he could not discuss specifics of the indictment, and referred them to his lawyer, Daniel L. Greenberg. The lawyer declined to comment about the case.

Stubblefield is charged with 135 counts, including 39 felonies.
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It charges San Jacinto city government was rife with money-laundering, tax fraud, bribery, perjury and filing false government documents in its 56 felonies and 99 misdemeanors.

The charges include allegations that City Council members, including Stubblefield, voted in favor of developers’ projects after receiving illegal gifts or hidden contributions from them.

Among the felony accusations are that Stubblefield, along with others named in the indictment, lied on state forms about the true source of thousands of dollars in political contributions to the unsuccessful 2006 state Assembly campaign of fellow councilmanand co-defendant Jim Ayres.

Prosecutors allege the money actually came from developer Stephen Holgate and was laundered through others, including Stubblefield.

The indictment also says Stubblefield falsely claimed a debt of more than $10,000 from a Claremont political consulting company had been “forgiven” when in fact it had been paid by Holgate, and should have been declared by Stubblefield as a gift from the developer.

Civic-Minded

San Jacinto has undergone tremendous growth in the past decade, with an accompanying boom in housing development. The population is 39,000; in 2000 it was around 26,000.

Stubblefield said Friday that he entered city politics because he wanted to make San Jacinto better for his sons and fellow residents.

The indictments don’t deter him, he said. He has no intention of resigning, though this will be his last term. He was first elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.

“I look forward to this last year,” Stubblefield said by phone. “I said I would do two terms, and that’s what I am going to do.”

Though the last year will have the challenge of a corruption scandal, Stubblefield said he hopes to make the most of his time in office.

“I suspect there are going to be some speed bumps,” he said. “But I know myself that I am innocent and I hope the citizens of San Jacinto wait to pass judgment and they will see that I am innocent.”

Stubblefield lives in San Jacinto, near De Anza Elementary School.

Barren fields, reminders of the city’s rural past, dot his side of the street, while across the road new homes bask in the sun.

Stubblefield said the home, which he and his wife had built, is one of his interests.

“I love doing home projects,” he said.

On the porch sits a smoothed rock that says “Stubblefield Family, est. 2005,” with the names of the all the home’s inhabitants.

A large, round fountain sits inoperable in the front yard. The fountain, part of which Stubblefield built, is a slight sore spot, he laughed. It needs some finishing touches.

“That’s on the honey-do list,” he joked.

Water hasn’t flowed to it in more than a year, he said, since water restrictions in the valley made its use illegal.

“It won’t have water in it until we are out of a drought,” he said.

Family is a big part of his life, Stubblefield said. The couple owns a travel trailer, which they use to take their two boys out for some fun.

“The last one was King’s Canyon,” he said.

Staying the Course

Stubblefield is active as a volunteer at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in San Jacinto. Stubblefield served four years on the church’s finance council, said his attorney, Greenberg.

“He only works tirelessly for the city of San Jacinto and its residents,” Greenberg said.

Stubblefield said his focus will be on keeping things on track in San Jacinto. Because the city has a city manager, the council’s struggles won’t affect day-to-day operations.

“The thing is to stay cohesive,” he said of the council. “I think that is the best thing for all of us.”

Council members are not “weekend barbecuers” together, but they will need to remain professional, he said.

None of the development decisions at the center of the investigation need to be reviewed by the council, Stubblefield said.

“I think our city attorney definitely needs to look at everything to make sure it is good,” Stubblefield said. “But to the best of my knowledge everything has been on the up and up.”

CHARGES

One of the 32 search warrants issued for the 18-month investigation says an informant claimed Stubblefield and Mansperger were “owned” by developer Holgate.

The warrant’s affidavit claims when Stubblefield received a July 10, 2007 e-mail seeking payment of a $10,520 bill for political promotion work by a Claremont consulting firm, he in turn sent the e-mail to a Temecula bookkeeper who did work for Holgate.

She forwarded it to Holgate, who one month later sent the Claremont firm a check for $15,000, the affidavit said. On his campaign disclosure form, Stubblefield claimed the debt to the Claremont firm was “forgiven.”

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