Supervisor accused of hiding campaign donation
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/26/2011 10:33:07 PM PDT
The state Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday filed criminal charges against San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry, accusing him of laundering a campaign contribution through a political action committee controlled by former county Assessor Bill Postmus.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons served Derry, who was not arrested, with a copy of the felony complaint at Derry’s office in the County Government Center in San Bernardino.
Derry stands charged with one felony charge of perjury, one felony charge of offering a false or forged document, and one misdemeanor count of failing to report a contribution.
Derry, who campaigned for the county’s 3rd District supervisorial seat in 2008 on a platform of government transparency and restoring public trust, is scheduled to be arraigned June 9 in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Reached by phone late Tuesday, Derry declined to comment, saying he had to discuss the matter with his attorney.
Derry is accused of concealing a $5,000 campaign contribution from Highland developer Arnold Stubblefield in June 2007, when he was running for county supervisor.
Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Josie Gonzales said in a statement Tuesday that the news concerning Derry was disturbing but that her focus would be on “faithfully executing the duties of my office without distraction.”
“I will not allow the actions of any one individual to define this county. I won’t allow them to reflect upon or discourage the decent people who work here,” Gonzales said in her statement. “I won’t allow them to disrupt or create doubts about the vital, first-rate services that we provide for the public.”
She said the board has no information about Derry’s legal situation beyond what has been filed with the court and that the board will discuss in closed session, at its earliest convenience, how Derry’s situation might affect the county, if at all.
Derry was elected to the board in November 2008.
According to a declaration by Special Agent Shannon Williams of the state Department of Justice, filed in court Tuesday in support of the criminal charges, Derry told investigators he had contacted Stubblefield in 2007 seeking a campaign contribution. Stubblefield, for political reasons, told Derry he did not want to appear on campaign reports as supporting Derry and asked Derry if there was a political action committee he could donate to that was supporting Derry, Williams said.
According to Williams, Derry told Stubblefield he believed the Inland Empire PAC, which prosecutors allege Postmus controlled, was “probably” going to support his campaign. Stubblefield told investigators he made a check out to the Inland Empire PAC and either mailed it or handed it directly to Derry. Derry told investigators it was understood that the Stubblefield money was to support his supervisorial campaign, Williams said.
At a June 2007 lunch meeting, Derry allegedly gave Postmus a number of checks totaling about $10,000 made out to the Inland Empire PAC, including Stubblefield’s, according to Williams.
Postmus told investigators that at the behest of then-Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, who was working on Derry’s campaign, Postmus agreed with Erwin and Derry to launder $5,000 to $10,000 of contributions intended for Derry’s campaign through the political action committee, Williams said.
“Postmus understood that Derry did not want to receive (and be required to report) these contributions directly to his campaign, and so Postmus agreed with Derry to accept the contributions into the Inland Empire PAC and then to pay out that amount to Derry’s campaign,” Williams said in his declaration.
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