December 23, 2009 3:32 PM
BROOKE EDWARDS Staff Writer
VICTORVILLE • A judge declined to dismiss fraud claims against Councilman Terry Caldwell and former city manager Jon Roberts, in a $33 million civil suit filed by CMB Exports.
The suit stems from a 2008 trip to China, where CMB took Caldwell, Roberts and Inland Energy’s William Buck Johns along to seek funding for Southern California Logistics Airport through the EB-5 investments-for-visas program. The federal program allows foreign citizens to get American visas in exchange for loaning $500,000 to the city.
While in China, Caldwell signed a memorandum of understanding with CMB agreeing to explore a partnership and forbidding the city from using any of the company’s information or consultants for two years.
But a few months after the trip, Roberts told the Daily Press the city decided to go a different direction. Victorville now has its own EB-5 Regional Center, and an exclusive agreement with Inland Energy to secure $25 million from EB-5 investors to build its wastewater treatment plant at SCLA.
CMB last December filed a lawsuit against the city — plus Caldwell and Roberts personally — alleging eight claims related to breach of contract, fraud, unfair competition and more.
Judge Gilbert Ochoa on Dec. 15 threw out three claims against Caldwell and Roberts related to unfair competition and interfering with economic advantage, according to court records. In these instances, the judge cited California law that grants certain immunity to public employees.
However, the judge ruled that three claims of fraud against Caldwell and Roberts — specifically “intentional misrepresentation,” “promise made without the intent to perform” and “concealment” — still stand.
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Brooke Edwards may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.