County Supervisor Neil Derry
His inclusion on an excluded parties list has forced the supervisor to sit out budget talks (KURT MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

BY IMRAN GHORI
STAFF WRITER
ighori@pe.com

Published: 13 December 2011 09:50 PM

The recent budget dispute among San Bernardino County supervisors highlighted Supervisor Neil Derry’s continued inability to vote on budget decisions due to criminal charges he faced earlier this year.

For the past month, Derry had to sit by and watch while the board battled over budget changes requested by county Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux that required a four-fifths approval. The board finally came to an agreement Tuesday.

Derry has had to recuse himself from any votes involving federal funds since April when the state attorney general charged him with two felonies and a misdemeanor over a campaign contribution. He declined to vote to prevent federal funds from being jeopardized by his participation.

The charges against Derry stemmed from a $5,000 campaign contribution in May 2007 that prosecutors said Derry attempted to launder through a committee controlled by former county Assessor Bill Postmus, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges earlier this year in a separate case.

After Derry accepted a plea deal in July and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of failing to report a campaign contribution, both he and his attorney predicted that he would quickly return to normal voting status on the board.

Derry maintained his innocence but said he agreed to the plea deal, which dismissed the two felony charges, to avoid a drawn-out trial.

He said the misdemeanor charge should not disqualify him and did not realize the process would take so long.

A copy of his plea agreement and a request to clear him from the list were given to the Federal Highway Administration, the agency that placed him on the excluded parties list.

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