By Joe Nelson Staff Writer
Posted: 07/01/2011 07:54:57 PM PDT

An unprecedented two-year investigation by the San Bernardino County Grand Jury into allegations of fiscal mismanagement in the city of Victorville produced no findings in the Grand Jury’s annual report released Thursday.

On Thursday, Assistant San Bernardino County Presiding Judge Ronald Christianson discharged the 2010-11 Grand Jury, which had been investigating the city since 2009 and requested roughly $195,000 from the Board of Supervisors for a forensic audit of the city.

Six members of the 2009-10 Grand Jury were held over for the 2010-11 Grand Jury so the investigation into Victorville could be completed. It was the first time such a step had been taken in San Bernardino County history.

But when the Grand Jury presented Christianson with its report on Thursday, there were nothing in it detailing findings from the Grand Jury’s two-year investigation into the High Desert city.

“I’m frustrated, and I think the Board of Supervisors should be very frustrated,” Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron said Friday. “It’s really weird that there’s nothing coming out on this issue.”

On top of the $195,000 in county taxpayer money authorized by the Board of Supervisors for the audit, the city of Victorville spent roughly $300,000 over the past two years in legal fees and staffing costs while working with auditors to produce the information they were seeking, McEachron said.

He wants to know why there is nothing to show for the time and money spent on the Grand Jury investigation.

“Why? That question needs to be asked and it needs to be answered,” McEachron said. “That’s $200,000 of (county) taxpayer money spent for a forensic audit, and there was nothing to show for it.”

Prompted by complaints of shaky finances and several alleged verbal or handshake deals between city officials and contractors, the Grand Jury launched its investigation in 2009.

The city has been vexed in recent years with financial difficulties. The federal Securities and Exchange Commission continues investigating the city’s more than $400 million of bond debt. In March, a city-commissioned audit concluded that ongoing losses, net asset deficiencies in major funds and a lack of liquidity had put the city on the brink of insolvency.

And in October, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services terminated the city’s EB-5 foreign investor visa program, concluding it did not comply with federal requirements for capital improvement projects.

Most of the city’s financial issues center on projects at Southern California Logistics Airport, where the city envisions its future economic prosperity.

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, whose district includes Victorville, said he too was disappointed that there were no findings in the 2010-11 Grand Jury report regarding Victorville’s financial situation.

“I think two years is certainly enough time. The county taxpayers that pay for the information deserve answers,” Mitzelfelt said Friday.

He said he hopes the newly impaneled 2011-12 Grand Jury will pick up where the 2010-11 Grand Jury left off.

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