10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County’s former top administrator filed a wrongful termination lawsuit Wednesday, accusing supervisors of firing him in November because he was cooperating with corruption investigations.

The complaint was filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court a month after the county rejected an April 1 claim by former County Administrative Officer Mark Uffer seeking $15 million in damages.

In the claim, Uffer alleged that current supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt, Neil Derry and Gary Ovitt; along with Bill Postmus, former assessor and supervisor; Ovitt’s chief of staff, Mark Kirk; and Jim Erwin, former assistant assessor and former chief of staff to Derry, wanted him fired because he had been cooperating with the district attorney’s office and the county grand jury since 2006.

Erwin and Postmus are now facing criminal charges including bribery and conspiracy as a result of the district attorney’s investigation.

Uffer’s 101-page lawsuit repeats many of the same allegations raised in the claim but also details additional accusations of ethical and legal violations by those figures that Uffer said he became aware of during his five-year tenure. The suit does not specify how much money he is seeking in damages.

County spokesman David Wert confirmed that the county was served with the lawsuit Wednesday but said officials had no comment.

Derry, Mitzelfelt and Postmus had previously dismissed the allegations in the claim as untrue, while Ovitt, Kirk and Erwin had declined to comment.

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