Devereaux warned, Biane cleared in private-jet ethical probe
April 28, 2010 4:26 PM
Natasha Lindstrom

SAN BERNARDINO • Two top San Bernardino County officials investigated by the state campaign watchdog for possible ethical violations related to a cross-country trip on a private jet will not face any penalties.

The nonpartisan Fair Political Practices Commission has cleared 2nd District Supervisor Paul Biane of any violations and issued a warning to County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux.

In January the county District Attorney’s office asked the FPPC to examine possible gift violations regarding Biane and Devereaux’s trip in September 2008. The two men had traveled to West Virginia on a private jet with two Rancho Cucamonga-based Colonies Partners affiliates, co-managing partner Dan Richards and investor Ray Crebs.

Devereaux said he paid $600 — or roughly the cost of a commercial flight to the same location — to the owner of the plane, Crebs, plus gave a $600 bottle of champagne to Crebs’ wife.

The FPPC found that wasn’t enough. An FPPC letter dated April 15 states Devereaux violated conflict of interest code because he hadn’t followed a new law that requires reimbursing such trips based on comparable charter rates.

But because Devereaux had consulted Ontario City Attorney John Brown about the reimbursement, the FPPC found he had “exercised due diligence in determining the applicable requirements” and closed his case with a written warning. The FPPC can impose fines up to $5,000 for violations.

Biane was accused of accepting the private-jet trip and spending campaign funds for personal use.

The FPPC found Biane used the trip to garner support from donors for his 2010 campaign and interview Devereaux as a potential CAO candidate, making the trip acceptable because it had a “political, legislative or governmental purpose.”

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Natasha Lindstrom may be reached at (760) 951-6232 or at