The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday, July 12, that it is looking into allegation of criminal activity in San Bernardino city government./FILE PHOTO
BY JOHN ASBURY, CASSIE MacDUFF AND JEFF HORSEMAN
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Published: 12 July 2012 06:07 PM
Authorities have announced an ongoing criminal investigation into San Bernardino city government, but Sheriff Rod Hoops said he believes it is unrelated to allegations made by the city attorney in the wake of the city’s bankruptcy decision about falsified financial documents.
A sheriff’s news release issued Thursday evening, July 12, stated: “Several months ago at the request of San Bernardino City officials, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, along with the San Bernardino Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office, began an investigation related to allegations of possible criminal activity within departments of the San Bernardino city government.
“The investigation is continuing and details will not be released at this time. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.”
The release came two days after San Bernardino’s City Council voted to seek bankruptcy protection. City officials said San Bernardino faces a $45 million deficit and may not be able to meet next month’s payroll.
Hoops said his department issued the release because it had been bombarded by media calls since City Attorney James Penman, at Tuesday’s council meeting, alleged that city financial documents were falsified during 13 of the past 16 budgets. Penman declined to elaborate at a Wednesday news conference.
The sheriff said he felt obliged to respond. “I’m a public official, I’m not going to lie,” he said.
Hoops said he consulted District Attorney Mike Ramos and San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy and they mutually decided a news release should be issued. The job fell to Hoops’ public affairs staff.
Hoops said as far as he knows, the investigation has nothing to do with the bankruptcy, nor with Penman’s allegations.
Penman said Wednesday he handed over documents to several agencies in February, but he did not identify which agencies he met with. Reached Thursday night, Penman said, “I have given all the information I am in the position to provide.”
He added, “This is a time when all the city officials need to pull together. This is a time when we all need to get behind the mayor.”
Penman also praised the city’s workforce. “We need to be working with them,” he said. “If we all work together, we’re going to come through this.”
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