By JOY JUEDES Staff Writer
Posted: 04/21/2011 06:03:00 PM PDT

A San Diego law firm is suing former officers and directors of 1st Centennial Bank on behalf of stockholders.

Robbins Umeda LLP filed a securities class-action complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Riverside, on behalf of Willis E. Short II and “all persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired” 1st Centennial Bancorp stock between April 13, 2006, and Jan. 23, 2009.

The suit was filed against former 1st Centennial officers and directors who “made materially false and misleading statements in press releases and filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

The former bank officials have 21 days from the date of filing to respond, according to court documents. The suit demands a jury trial.

The complaint asked for unspecified damages, “reasonable costs and disbursements” and any other relief the court deems proper. The complaint states Short purchased securities and was “damaged thereby.” A certification attached to the complaint shows Short made five purchases totaling more than 17,200 shares, at prices ranging between $20 and $37 a share, between February 2007 and May 2008.

The Short complaint states defendants’ “pervasive misconduct and continuous deception was not publicly unveiled until the (Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General) issued its report on the Bank’s closure.” The complaint refers to the report and a suit filed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in January against 12 named and five unnamed former directors and officers.

The Redlands-based bank was shut down in January 2009 and the FDIC was named receiver.

Attorneys for the former directors and officers filed a motion to dismiss the FDIC suit April 13, stating that “(a)lthough the FDIC now claims that 1st Centennial was engaged in `risky’ behavior and `imprudent’ lending practices, the FDIC’s own contemporaneously prepared findings belie that claim.”

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