Monday, October 31, 2011

FBI, county join forces to probe Victorville

SEC also continues interviewing staffers

October 31, 2011 11:16 AM
Brooke Edwards Staggs

VICTORVILLE • Though Victorville wasn’t mentioned in the San Bernardino County Grand Jury’s 2011 report, that doesn’t mean the citizen group’s two-year probe into corruption allegations turned up nothing, according to a source close to the investigation.

Instead, the grand jury has turned its findings — including results of a lengthy, county-funded forensic audit — over to the FBI, the source told the Daily Press. The FBI then asked that some members of the grand jury join a special task force charged with looking into Victorville.

The grand jury began questioning city officials in spring 2009, as concerns continued to emerge over finances, the November 2008 campaign and handshake contracts allegedly made under former City Manager Jon Roberts.

Over the next two and a half years, council members and city staff were questioned, documents were subpoenaed and the county Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $195,000 to have New York-based auditor Kessler International look into the allegations.

For the first time in the history of San Bernardino County, six citizens were held over from the 2009-10 grand jury to continue serving with the next year’s watchdog group. Those members were released from service at the end of June, though a source who didn’t have permission to speak on the issue said at least two joined a task force to work with the FBI on both Victorville’s case and corruption concerns that have emerged related to San Bernardino International Airport.

Victorville staff hasn’t heard anything from the grand jury since the 2010-11 citizen group disbanded and issued its report at the end of June, according to City Manager Doug Robertson.

Two staff members are tentatively scheduled to meet separately with the Securities and Exchange Commission next month, Robertson said, as part of the federal agency’s ongoing probe into Victorville’s bond expenditures.

“The city has had no contact from any other investigatory body,” Robertson said in an email, “nor have any employees been interviewed by any other agency that we are aware of.”

In September, Councilman Mike Rothschild asked the District Attorney’s office, which oversees the grand jury, to look into statements made by Councilwoman Angela Valles following closed session talks. The DA issued a letter a short time later dismissing the concerns.

Valles said she spent several hours meeting with representatives from the DA’s office last week, expressing her concerns over the way Victorville operates.

“I believe in our justice system and I know that the wheels of justice turn slowly,” Valles said. “Hopefully we can get some closure to the investigations soon.”

Brooke Edwards Staggs may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at

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