Neil Derry and Bill Postmus
10:44 PM PDT on Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Special Section S.B. County Probe
San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry is accused of laundering campaign contributions through a political action committee controlled by former Assessor Bill Postmus, according to a felony complaint filed Tuesday.
It was the latest twist in an ongoing corruption investigation in San Bernardino County.
The California attorney general’s office charged Derry, 42, with two felonies — perjury and filing a false report — and a misdemeanor violation of failure to report a campaign contribution.
He was not arrested. A copy of the complaint was delivered to Derry’s office at the County Government Center in San Bernardino. He was told to report to San Bernardino County Superior Court on June 9.
George Watson, Derry’s chief of staff, said Derry had not spoken with an attorney yet and would not comment.
According to court documents, Derry received a $5,000 check from San Bernardino developer Arnold Stubblefield in May 2007 and funneled it through the Inland Empire Political Action Committee, which was controlled by Postmus.
Derry’s campaign contribution report for that period shows a check from the committee but failed to report any contribution from Stubblefield, Shannon Williams, a special agent with the attorney general’s office, wrote in a declaration in support of the complaint.
The complaint alleges Derry “did knowingly and willfully fail” to report the contribution in his campaign report.
According to Williams, Derry admitted to investigators that he received a check from Stubblefield and gave it to Postmus. Derry told investigators that Stubblefield did not want to show up on campaign reports as supporting his campaign, Williams stated.
Derry said Stubblefield asked him if there was a committee he could donate to that supported Derry, and Derry told him that the Inland Empire PAC was “probably” going to support him, Williams stated.
Stubblefield, a San Bernardino commercial developer, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Derry was elected in 2008 on an ethics platform, unseating longtime incumbent Dennis Hansberger. He promised to push for an ethics committee overseeing elected officials’ conduct but his proposal has yet to be considered.
Hansberger said the latest charges are another blow to the county, which has been rocked by one scandal after another. “I’m just sorry our county has to continue go through this. It’s got to stop sometime, the sooner the better,” he said.
Postmus a source
On March 28, Postmus, the most prominent political figure charged in the ongoing investigation, pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, including accepting a bribe and possession of narcotics. As part of the deal, he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. He is cited as a source in a court declaration in support of the Derry complaint.
Four other former county officials, including Jim Erwin, a former assistant assessor and former chief of staff to Derry, have also been charged as part of the investigation.
Williams, the state special agent, states in the declaration that Postmus told investigators he agreed to launder $5,000 to $10,000 of contributions for Derry through the Inland Empire Political Action Committee.
At a June 2007 lunch meeting at Coco’s in San Bernardino, Derry handed Postmus a number of checks totaling $10,000 — including Stubblefield’s $5,000 contribution, Williams said. Postmus and two of his associates, Adam Aleman, a former assistant assessor, and Mike Richman, a political consultant, also described the meeting to authorities, Williams said.
Erwin, who is also described as attending the meeting, called the allegation a lie, saying there was no meeting where checks were discussed. Erwin was working on Derry’s campaign at the time. He faces charges of bribery, conspiracy and perjury in a separate case that also involves Postmus.
“This is not unexpected based on Bill Postmus and his drug conviction and his willingness to save himself,” Erwin said. “Mr. Derry is of impeccable character and integrity and wouldn’t do such a thing.”
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