By Joe Nelson Staff Writer
Created: 06/23/2011 06:34:02 PM PDT

A San Bernardino Superior Court Judge on Thursday rejected a request to dismiss criminal charges against county Supervisor Neil Derry, whose attorney then entered a not-guilty plea for him at the scheduled arraignment proceedings.

Judge Michael Dest also granted a request by Derry’s attorney, George Newhouse, to allow Derry to remain free on his own recognizance on condition he appear at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino no later than July 7 for booking.

The state Attorney General’s Office charged Derry in April with two felonies and one misdemeanor for allegedly failing to report a $5,000 campaign contribution from a Highland developer in July 2007.

In a June 9 motion challenging the charges, Newhouse argued that the state Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting Derry, failed to adequately plead its case by not indicating in its complaint that Derry was aware the campaign finance reports he filed were incomplete.

Deputy Attorney General Emily Hanks argued in her response that Newhouse was relying on antiquated law pertaining to pleading requirements from 1917 and that he was arguing outside the scope of the criminal complaint.

Dest rejected Newhouse’s argument, overruling the motion and setting a preliminary hearing date for July 21.

After Thursday’s brief court hearing, Derry declined comment, deferring all questions to Newhouse.

Newhouse said that although he was disappointed by Dest’s ruling, he and Derry were confident the two felony counts – perjury and filing false documents – will be tossed out at the preliminary hearing.

“It will be short. It will be sweet, and I believe it will lead to dismissal of the two felony counts,” Newhouse said.

Derry is also charged with one misdemeanor count of failing to report a campaign contribution.

The charges stem from an occurrence in June 2007, when Derry met with former county Assessor Bill Postmus and several others at a Coco’s restaurant in San Bernardino.

Derry, prosecutors allege, handed about $10,000 in checks intended for his campaign to Postmus, who operated the political action committee Inland Empire PAC.

Among the checks Derry allegedly gave Postmus was one made out for $5,000 by Highland Town Shops, owned by Highland developer Arnold Stubblefield.

Stubblefield supported Derry’s campaign but did not want his name attached to it for political reasons, according to prosecutors.

The checks, prosecutors allege, were funneled into the Inland Empire PAC’s account, and the political action committee in turn contributed $10,000 to Derry’s campaign.

Newhouse said Derry believed everything he was doing was above board.

“Derry had every expectation that every campaign contribution would be reported as required by law,” said Newhouse, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted public corruption and government fraud cases.

Postmus, who has been charged with multiple felonies in connection with corruption cases involving the Assessor’s Office and the county’s $102million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006, is cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain.

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