Grand Terrace City Councilman Jim Miller waived his right to a preliminary hearing in San Bernardino County Superior Court today.
The move sets the stage for an immediate jury trial on a single count of conflict of interest by a public officer, a felony.
The move follows a formal rejection of a plea offer of a single misdemeanor count that would require Miller to resign from office.
Miller was charged by District Attorney Michael Ramos for voting to approve what is referred to as a check disbursement register that is routinely placed on the Grand Terrace City Council consent calendar.
Miller apparently voted on a consent calendar that contained a already issued disbursement to his wife’s newspaper business, which owns the only adjudicated news publication in the city.
The city manager’s office placed advertisements in the publication under its own authority and did not require City Council approval. The expenditure Miller is being prosecuted for is for advertisements, which were already published.
When Miller’s attorney brought to the attention of Deputy District Attorney John Goritz that Miller never voted to approve any contract between his wife’s wholly owned business and the city, the misdemeanor offer came forward.
Complicating the case is statements reportedly attributed to Grand Terrace Councilmember Bea Cortes.
Cortes has made statements to others that she has a close relationship with District Attorney Ramos, and that she had Miller arrested.
Interestingly, Cortes has had her own conflict issues come to light. Cortes appears to have voted for expenditures related to Terra Loma Realty in Grand Terrace. At the time of the votes in question Terra Loma was maintaining Cortes real estate license in active status even though she was not executing any sales transactions at the time.
No charges were filed ever against Cortes.