Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/19/2012 08:03:04 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Colton Councilwoman Deirdre Bennett said she lost faith in former City Manager Daryl Parrish after he failed to cancel a city-issued credit card a councilman had been abusing.

“I was concerned. There were charges on there that weren’t city business,” Bennett said Monday during day two of a wrongful termination lawsuit against Parrish and the city of Colton.

Former Colton Police Chief Ken Rulon sued Parrish and the city in May 2008, alleging he was fired in April 2007 after reporting to the District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Department and FBI suspected malfeasance by former Councilman Ramon Hernandez and other city officials.

Bennett said the city’s finance department brought to her attention in June 2005 nearly $1,500 in charges to motel rooms on Hernandez’s city-issued credit card. The charges were racked up over a 30-day period in May and June of that year.

Bennett, then the mayor, said she refused to sign the billing invoice, but ultimately did after she was told the city’s credit would be in jeopardy if she didn’t.

When Bennett confronted Parrish with the matter, Parrish said he would take care of it, Bennett testified.

About a year later, it was brought to Bennett’s attention that Hernandez racked up more unauthorized charges for motel rooms on the card. She confronted Parrish again on the matter.

“He had not realized the charges started again, and he said he would handle it,” Bennett said.

Parrish subsequently cancelled the credit card.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in January 2008 to 24 felony counts for charging roughly $5,500 on his city-issued credit card for unauthorized motel stays and calls to telephone sex lines from December 2004 to May 2006.

It was later learned that Hernandez had been abusing methamphetamine and rendezvousing with a man he had been having an affair with at the motels. Authorities were also investigating Hernandez at the time for methamphetamine sales.

Hernandez was sentenced to 180 days in jail and five years probation. He was allowed to serve his jail time on weekends.

Bennett said she lost faith in Parrish’s ability to do his job after that, and told him he should seek employment elsewhere.

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