A San Bernardino Superior Court judge on Wednesday dismissed former San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry's misdemeanor conviction for failing to report a $5,000 campaign contribution in 2007.
Derry's attorney, Rajan Maline, filed a motion with the court requesting early termination of Derry's probation and a dismissal of his conviction.
Despite opposition from state Deputy Attorney General Stephanie Chow, Judge J. David Mazurek granted the request.
"Mr. Derry was plenty deserving of it," Maline said Wednesday. "He did everything he was supposed to do and the judge granted it on that basis. "
The state Attorney General's Office charged Derry in April 2011 with perjury and filing false documents, both felonies, and failing to report a campaign contribution, a misdemeanor. Under a plea bargain, Derry pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor in exchange for the two felonies being dropped. He also paid roughly $15,000 in fines, in total, to both the court and the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
The charges arose during an expansive investigation into county corruption that led to criminal charges against several former county officials in scandals involving the Assessor's Office and a $102 million legal settlement between the county and a Rancho Cucamonga developer in November 2006.
Former county Assessor Bill Postmus, the central figure in both scandals and who was also the former chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for leniency. He told prosecutors Derry funneled a $5,000 campaign contribution from Highland developer Arnold Stubblefield through Postmus' political action committee, Inland Empire PAC.
Derry said the prosecution was politically motivated and the criminal charges unwarranted. He said his infractions warranted, at most, a fine and nothing more, which is what occurs in most all cases involving public officials who improperly report their campaign finance information.
"I think everybody understood the baselessness of the charges, how they were completely out of the ordinary and that no other elected officials, as far as I know, in the state of California have ever been charged for a single campaign violation," Derry said Wednesday.
In her motion opposing early termination of probation and dismissal of the case, Chow said Derry's conduct was serious, involved acts of moral turpitude, and was a deliberate attempt to deceive the public. Because of that, Chow maintained that Derry's request was premature and that he should be obligated to fulfill the term of his probation.
Derry, who is now the senior vice president of public affairs at Desmond & Louis Public Relations in Yucaipa, said he's glad the matter was behind him and was looking forward to his career in the private sector.
But he can't help feel a little bitter about the whole thing. He said prosecutors based their entire case on Postmus, an admitted methamphetamine addict whose personal problem became a matter of huge public interest. The former rising political star suffered bouts of relapses during his criminal proceedings, and at one time was arrested by a bailiff for showing up to a court hearing while under the influence of the drug.
"The fact that the case was entirely based on a meth-addicted liar speaks for itself," Derry said.