Three members of the grand jury met individually about two weeks ago with Mayor Rudy Cabriales and Councilman Ryan McEachron, as well as City Manager Jim Cox, Finance Director John Sullivan, Economic Development Director Keith Metzler and City Attorney Andre De Bortnowsky.
The bulk of the interviews, each lasting about an hour, centered on the city's financial situation, said Yvonne Hester, city spokeswoman.
A recent audit concluded the city is facing a financial crisis with hundreds of millions of dollars in deficits, defaults and overstated assets.
Questioning also touched on at least three verbal agreements former City Manager Jon Roberts allegedly made with contractors.
"They just wanted details on those verbal contracts and what I knew on them," McEachron said. "They asked others about them to see if we were all on the same page - what did they entail, what did they involve."
Reached by telephone, Roberts, who is now the city manager for Steamboat Springs, Colo., said he has not been spoken to the grand jury.
"I have not been contacted by the grand jury, and I have not been contacted by anyone in the city (of Victorville) on this," Roberts said.
He said he was previously contacted by Cox about a traffic-signal project at Highway 395 and Mojave Drive but is unaware of any verbal agreements with developers or contractors.
"I told the developer they could submit a development impact fee credit agreement with the city, which would go to City Council for approval," Roberts said of the traffic-signal project. "That is the only issue I have been contacted about by the city."
Roberts and Councilman Terry Caldwell were named as defendants last week in a $33million lawsuit against the city alleging breach of written contract, fraud and unfair competition, among other allegations.
The lawsuit, filed in December by CMB Export LLC and its subsidiary, CMB Infrastructure Investment Group, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, named the city, its Redevelopment Agency and the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville as defendants. The complaint was amended last week to include Roberts and Caldwell.
CMB is alleging the city partnered with the company last year in an effort to secure $100million in investor funds to go toward a public-works project at the airport. Caldwell signed off on the contract and Roberts assured CMB officials and potential investors that the city would make good on repaying the investment, according to the suit.
But in March 2008, city officials told CMB President Patrick Hogan that the city wasn't planning on honoring the contract and would be embarking on the project on its own and seeking its own investors, according to the lawsuit.
CMB alleges in the lawsuit that the city's contract was "nothing more than a phase of the ongoing and continuing fraudulent scheme, whereby Caldwell, Roberts, the city sought to gain access to CMB's business model, know-how, key contacts, and other confidential information and use those for assets and information to improperly and unfairly compete" against CMB.
The city has requested the suit be dismissed, arguing that the contract was never ratified by the City Council and therefore not enforceable.
McEachron, who was elected to the City Council in November, said the grand jury's interest in him centered mostly around a "hit" mailer campaign aimed at thwarting his election. He said there was also interest in ties various political action committees may have to the city.
He said he suspects William "Buck" Johns, an industrial engineer and president of the Newport Beach-based Inland Energy Inc., was behind the smear campaign.
Johns, who has been instrumental in the entitlement and development of a power plant at the Southern California Logistics Airport and several other power-plant projects in the High Desert, couldn't be reached for comment. He has previously denied any connection to the McEachron mailer campaign.
"I think they were concerned that there were some things that went on during the campaign that were, in essence, aimed to take me out from winning," McEachron said.
Johns spent more than $5,000 on mailers, polling and consulting work for Victorville City Council candidates during the November election. He contributed $3,000 to Mike Rothschild's campaign, $2,750 to Cabriales' campaign, $1,000 to former Councilman Bob Hunter's campaign and $231 for consulting for Caldwell.
Progress Victorville, a general action committee quarterbacked by Johns, funneled more than $103,000 in nonmonetary contributions into the campaigns of Cabriales, Rothschild and Hunter in 2008, campaign records show.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, whose 1st District includes the High Desert, said he scheduled an April 3 meeting with the grand jury to discuss the issues plaguing Victorville but came down with a bout of flu. He said he asked to reschedule, but grand jury members told him it was time sensitive, and therefore declined to reschedule.
"Obviously, I'm concerned about the fiscal health of Victorville, as it not just affects Victorville residents but the entire Victor Valley," Mitzelfelt said.