Thursday, December 17, 2009

Politician Corruption Again..SAN JACINTO CA: Council members indicted, From Bail Bondsman in San Jacinto and Riverside County

By CRAIG SHULTZ-North County Times
More than a dozen speakers called for four indicted members of the San Jacinto City Council to resign Thursday during their first meeting since they were arrested last month in what was called the worst case of government corruption in county history.

A Riverside County grand jury indicted nine people ---- including San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield and Councilmen Jim Ayres, John Mansperger and Jim Potts ---- on charges of bribery, perjury, money laundering, tax fraud and filing false campaign-contribution reports. Each of the defendants has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

When no resignations were offered, Ayres, Potts and Stubblefield were served with recall papers. Mansperger would have been as well, but he was absent from the meeting following the recent birth of a daughter.

Although about 150 people attended the meeting ---- more than twice the normal crowd ---- and four people carried protest signs asking the council members resign or be recalled, the evening was relatively calm.

There were cheers and groans at times as City Manager Barry McClellan asked the audience to raise their hand to show support instead of whooping and hollering.

Stubblefield was the only council member to address the charges.

"I can't talk about the charges against me, but I can tell you I'm innocent," he said. "Those who know me know my character and moral beliefs. ... I hope all of us can work together through this difficult time."

Stubblefield said he would not seek re-election when his term expires in December 2010.

As part of the meeting, the council held its annual reorganization, where a mayor and vice mayor are selected.

Potts nominated Stubblefield for a second consecutive term, which drew groans from the audience and complaints from Steve Di Memmo, the only council member not under suspicion.

Di Memmo nominated himself, saying the mayor should be someone not under suspicion of committing a crime.

"Because we do have a cloud over us right now, it's going to be hard for the community to accept a mayor who has a cloud over him," Di Memmo said. "The community should have someone sitting in that position as an unindicted individual. ... We have to show the public that we are going to maintain our integrity through this tough time."

McClellan, attending his last meeting before retiring at the end of the year, invited members of the audience to express their opinions about the selection of the mayor; 13 people spoke against the indicted members and in favor of Di Memmo and five spoke in support of the other four.

There were two common themes among the speakers: Innocent until proven guilty and cloud of suspicion. Most speakers used one or both terms.

A number of failed council candidates and a former council member spoke.

Some of the harshest words came from Bernie Simon, the elected city treasurer.

"Don't slap the people of this community in the face," Simon said. "Let's not have an indicted mayor. I beg of you."

Ultimately, Stubblefield was selected mayor in a 3-1 vote, with Di Memmo dissenting. Di Memmo was unanimously selected vice mayor.

Before serving the recall papers, Brian Hildreth, the attorney for the recall group, again asked the council members to resign.

"The committee asked me to request your resignations immediately and not allow this city to continue with a black cloud over it," Hildreth said.

Alleging 56 felonies and 99 misdemeanors, the 155-count indictment also named Ayres' wife, Nancy, a local school board member; Stephen Russell Holgate; Byron Jerry Ellison Sr.; Scott Douglas Shaull; and Robert Edward Osborne.

The indictment alleges the nine were involved in a tangled web of conspiracy that sought to cloak the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. The donations were for Jim Ayres' failed 2006 bid for the Republican nomination for a state Assembly seat and successful 2008 council re-election campaign, as well as for Nancy Ayres' 2008 campaign for the San Jacinto Unified School District board.

The primary source of most of the cash was Holgate, a real estate developer, according to the 68-page indictment.

We have no bail information at this time, it appears the original arrests were made last month and booking info is not available.

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