Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/30/2010 09:00:19 PM PDT

After nearly eight months, San Bernardino County prosecutors still have not decided whether they will file criminal charges against two top county fire officials who used a fire department trailer to move personal belongings on county time.

“That matter is still under investigation. There’s no real time line yet as to when it might be complete,” said Susan Mickey, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.

In mid-August, county Fire Chief Pat Dennen and Deputy Fire Chief Dan Wurl were placed on unpaid administrative leave for 10 days after a human resources investigation determined they used the Fire Department trailer to move Wurl’s belongings from Running Springs to his new home in Yucaipa over a 10-day period in July.

The move occurred during work hours, and it remains unclear how much it cost taxpayers. The county has not made its findings public because prosecutors are considering criminal charges.

The county forwarded its findings to the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit for review on Aug. 13. It has languished there ever since.

Although the case remains high on the priority list, limited resources and a higher priority – the ever-expanding corruption probe into the county’s $102 million legal settlement with a Rancho Cucamonga- based developer – has contributed to the delay, Mickey said.

In August, Supervisor Josie Gonzales said the “public deserved better,” and that Dennen’s and Wurl’s conduct was no
better than the alleged corruption in the Assessor’s Office under the reign of Bill Postmus.

Her viewpoint appears to have softened since then.

On Tuesday, she said there “is absolutely nothing professionally lacking” in Dennen and Wurl and that criminal charges would lack merit because, among other things, they both stepped forward and took responsibility for their actions.

While it is not uncommon for prosecutorial reviews of potential criminal cases to span months, Dennen’s and Wurl’s case, experts say, is unique in that the two reportedly took responsibility for their actions and had already been disciplined at the administrative level.

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