Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 12/19/2011 05:22:30 PM PST

Seven current and former employees of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, accused of forging training documents for increased pay in a decade-long scam, appeared briefly in San Bernardino Superior Court Monday for a pre-trial hearing.

Lawyers agreed to another continuance and set a new pretrial date for March 23.

It has been more than nine months since the defendants were indicted following a criminal grand jury inquiry.

“I think this is typical for a case like this,” prosecutor Dan Silverman said. “Here we have seven defendants and seven defense attorneys.”

He said the delays are due in part to extensive discovery — the process in which both the prosecution and the defense exchange their information and/or evidence in preparation for trial.

It is also a time when culpability is more carefully evaluated and plea bargains are oftentimes struck.

“That’s basically where we’re at right now — sorting out where the parties are,” Silverman said. “It’s a time for the defense attorneys to speak to me, make sure that everybody has all the discovery that’s necessary and to see if we’re headed for trial or if there’s anything to consider before moving forward to trial.”

Charged in the case are retired sheriff’s Capt. Hobart Gray, who commanded the sheriff’s Yucaipa station; his wife and former sheriff’s training specialist Angela Gray; retired Assistant Sheriff Michael Stodelle; Lt. Russell Wilke, former training specialist secialist Sallyann Christian; retired Deputy David Pichotta; and retired Lt. Bill Maddox.

Wilke and Christian are the only two defendants who remain employed at the department, though they have been reassigned to the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, where Wilke remains a lieutenant and Christian a custody specialist, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller said.

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