Brown withdraws claim of retaliation in county probe
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Created: 08/30/2010 05:20:07 PM PDT

The former chief of staff to San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane has withdrawn a complaint that alleged he was repeatedly harassed for cooperating with prosecutors probing alleged government corruption.

Matt Brown, who now works as the assistant county recorder, approached County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux last week to say he wanted to drop his May 3 written complaint, which had been addressed to Biane and copied to the other four members of the county Board of Supervisors. The county Human Resources Department then launched an investigation.

The signing of the settlement agreement on Monday means an end to the human-resources investigation into Brown’s allegations, county spokesman David Wert said.

The county will pay Brown $25,000 to cover his attorney fees as part of the settlement.

“Employee represents that circumstances have changed since the filing of his claim of retaliation warranting and justifying the discontinuance of any further investigation,” according to the four-page settlement agreement.

Biane said in a statement Monday that he was as “surprised today by Matt’s letter as he was on the day he received” the initial complaint.

“I am pleased that the matter has been resolved, and I wish Matt and his family the best as he tackles the responsibilities of his new position with the county,” Biane said in his statement. “I consider Matt a close friend, and know he will succeed in his future endeavors.”

Brown alleged in his May 3 letter to Biane that he had been subjected to daily harassment, retaliation and veiled threats of termination for cooperating in a joint investigation by the District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices regarding the county’s $102 million settlement with Rancho Cucamonga- based developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006.

Brown did not specify who was harassing him.

Prosecutors allege the settlement with Colonies, approved by Biane and supervisors Gary Ovitt and then-board Chairman Bill Postmus, was tainted by bribery and extortion. No county attorney or outside counsel signed off on the settlement, which the county and Colonies maintain was the result of arms-length hard bargaining on both sides.

Less than a year after the settlement was reached, Colonies funneled a total of $400,000 to political action committees controlled by the three supervisors who voted in favor of the settlement or their staff members. One of the PACs was controlled by Brown.

Brown’s attorney, Sanford Kassel, could not be reached for comment Monday.

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