(October 18) SAN BERNARDINO—Within two hours yesterday, Thursday October 17, action by law enforcement authorities on both sides of the San Bernardino County/Riverside County line transpired to curtail the political careers of two members of the San Bernardino City Council.
City councilman Chas Kelley, who has represented the city’s extreme north end as the 5th Ward councilman since 2003, was charged with one count of felony perjury by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office and arraigned on the charge. At his arraignment he pleaded guilty to one count of perjury.
Eleven miles south, in Riverside, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office charged San Bernardino Councilman Robert Jenkins with 30 criminal counts related to identify theft and stalking of his one-time homosexual lover and one of his former lover’s more recent boyfriends.
Kelley, who was running for mayor, immediately resigned as councilman and pulled out of the mayoral race.
Jenkins is represented by attorney Virginia Blumenthal, who proclaimed her client’s innocence and arranged for a bondsman to post $25,000 bail on Jenkin’s behalf through the court Thursday morning so Jenkins avoided both arrest and being taken into custody. He is scheduled for arraignment December 17 on charges of unlawfully distributing, via computer, personal identifying information of a harassing nature; unlawfully obtaining, through fraudulent means, information of another person; stalking; and forging an official state seal or that of a public officer. Indications are that he will fight the charges and will not resign from office. He must stand for reelection on November 5.
The district attorney’s office investigation of Kelly was touched off by a complaint to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Public Integrity Unit received in October 2011 that maintained Kelley was diverting to his own use campaign money that had been provided to him. According to the district attorney’s office “After further investigation, the amount of under-reported monetary contributions Kelley failed to disclose was $74,222.76.”
Following his guilty plea, Kelley made the following statement: “I freely, voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently admit that from on or about January 31, 2007, through July 30, 2012, on numerous occasions, I committed perjury, by falsely stating as true the amount of money I was depositing to and withdrawing from my Friends of Chas Kelley campaign account, on the Fair Political Practices Commission Form 460 that I filed or caused to be filed for the reporting periods that occurred between July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2012, so I could hide the fact that I was using that money improperly for non-campaign related purposes.”
As a result of his guilty plea, Kelley is precluded from holding any future elected or appointed governmental position. He is scheduled for sentencing on December 13. The terms of his plea arrangement call for his serving 90 days in county jail and five years on probation.
It was also disclosed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph B. Widman that since June Kelley had cooperated with an ongoing FBI investigation in which Kelley was using his candidacy for mayor to solicit campaign contributions from donors and obtain evidence, through the recording of the conversations without those donors’ knowledge, that they were abetting him in the receiving of bribes and the laundering of such as campaign contributions.
“Mr. Kelley has generated approximately 25 recordings of this kind at the direction and under the supervision of the FBI,” according to Widman.
Jenkins, who was elected to the city council in a special election held in July 2012 to fill the Ward 2 council seat vacancy left by the resignation of former councilman Jason Desjardins, is alleged to have used his computer and home internet account to place several personal advertisements on Craigslist seeking sex partners and then diverting responses to those ads to Jenkins’ former partner or the man whom Jenkins believed his former partner to be involved with. The ads included the victims’ personal information, entailing names, addresses and photos. Jenkins is further charged with forging a San Bernardino Police Department internal memorandum, using the names of two department employees, Sgt. Tom Bielaszka and Lt. Dario Robinson, as well as city and police department seals, according to the criminal complaint.
Statements emanating from the Jenkins’ camp and Blumenthal’s office suggested Jenkins, who previously hid but now openly acknowledges his homosexuality, was set up by his former lover, who had a key to his home and access to his computer.
The developments come as a blow to the city of San Bernardino, which filed for bankruptcy last year, as well as to the city council and in particular to the Republican element of the council, which is outnumbered by Democrats four-to-three on the seven-member panel. Both Jenkins and Kelley touted themselves as conservative Republicans. Jenkins is being challenged by Benito Barrios in the November election.