The former San Bernardino County assistant assessor, James Erwin, is accused of perjury and falsifying documents for failing to disclose a dirty laundry list of gifts received.
That list includes: A $13,000 Rolex watch, round-trip airfare, hotel rooms, theater tickets and oh yeah, the services of a prostitute.
The 46-year-old former sheriff deputy and current chief of staff for San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry, was arrested on 10 felony counts. The arrest was part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the office of former county Assessor Bill Postmus.
A developer, for whom Erwin reportedly helped settle a lawsuit, gave the gifts.
According to the Riverside Press Enterprise, the charges filed are a result of his failure to declare the gifts as required by the state when he became an assistant county assessor. Erwin has been placed on administrative leave following his arrest. Bail was set at $220,000. Convictions on all count could result in as much as 11 years in state prison.
Derry was quoted in the San Bernardino Sun, “Today’s events are shocking and disappointing. But all the allegations against Mr. Erwin listed by the District Attorney’s Office are related to activities prior to his employment with my office.”
You can read the official complaint here on the San Bernardino Sun Web site.
According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission Web site, “Assets and income of public officials which may be materially affected by their official actions should be disclosed and in appropriate circumstances the officials should be disqualified from acting in order that conflicts of interest may be avoided.”
PublicCEO.com recently featured a report on the proper ways to report gifts received by city officials. To show where Erwin’s actions on the scale of offenses, read more.
For instance, the city administrator of Montebello. Earlier this winter, Richard Torres was startled to learn that he was being fined $426 for accepting a 2005 gift of four tickets, on three different occasions, to see the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Torres took his family to see the baseball games.
The gift was from former city attorney Marco Martinez. The gifts, with a value of $516, exceeded the FPPC’s then limit of $360; that has since been raised to $420.
Torres noted that he self-reported the gifts on a form, so it stands to reason that he wasn’t trying to hide anything. “It’s akin to a very expensive parking ticket,” Torres said. “I fill them out every year and don’t think too much about them … but ignorance isn’t a defense.”