10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, April 27, 2010
By IMRAN GHORI and DUANE W. GANG
A state watchdog agency issued San Bernardino County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux a warning letter while finding that Supervisor Paul Biane violated no ethics rules over a private jet trip both accepted from a Rancho Cucamonga developer.
Both men accompanied Ray Crebs, a member of Colonies Partners, on a private flight in September 2008 to West Virginia. Devereaux, who took over as county administrator this February, was Ontario city manager at the time.
Colonies received a $102 million lawsuit settlement from San Bernardino County in 2006. The settlement is now the target of an ongoing criminal investigation.
In letters dated April 15, the California Fair Political Practices Commission found that Devereaux failed to properly reimburse Crebs for the flight but that Biane’s acceptance of the trip was for legitimate government and campaign business.
Devereaux reimbursed Crebs for the flight but at a rate equal to commercial airfare, not at a higher charter rate required by state law. Devereaux provided the reimbursement based on advice from the Ontario city attorney but the rules had changed between then and his trip.
The commission decided not to fine Devereaux, noting that he exercised “due diligence” in attempting to comply with the rules. However, the letter states that future violations could result in fines of up to $5,000.
In a statement, Devereaux said the FPPC decision showed that it was “an honest mistake” on his part.
“I take full responsibility for the mistake and in the future will strive even more to be current on the rules,” he said.
In Biane’s case, the agency determined that the trip allowed Biane to forge a better relationship with a campaign contributor and evaluate Devereaux as a potential candidate for county administrator.
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