Pomierski Enters Guilty Plea To Single Bribery Count

UPLAND – Former Upland Mayor John Pomierski yesterday pleaded guilty to bribery, a move that will likely bring to an end the federal government’s prosecution of charges against him contained in a 11-count indictment handed down by a grand jury last year.
In the plea signed by all parties on April 7 which Pomierski entered in court on April 26, he admitted taking a $5,000 bribe in return for helping a business obtain a conditional use permit from the city.
Pomierski, 58, pleaded guilty to count 7 of the March 2, 2011 indictment which named him and Upland contractor John Hennes, who had been Pomierski’s business partner and appointee to the Upland Building Appeals Board.
That indictment painted a picture of a conspiracy involving Pomierski and Hennes, who worked in conjunction with two others indicted separately, Anthony Orlando Sanchez and Jason Crebs, to shake down individuals with pending developments or business applications for permits before the city. Hennes, Sanchez and Crebs would represent themselves to applicants as consultants who for a fee could ensure, by means of their connection to Pomierski, city approval of projects or applications.
All four of those involved in the conspiracy originally entered not guilty pleas but since that time have entered into plea arrangements with federal prosecutors. Crebs, in April 2011,  pleaded guilty as part of an arrangement with prosecutors.  Sanchez signed a plea agreement early on but fled to Costa Rica. He returned to the U.S. in January and remains in custody. He is scheduled to plead guilty on Monday, April 30 at federal court in Riverside. In December it was revealed by Hennes’ attorney, Kenneth White, that Hennes had been cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office prior to his indictment and that Hennes had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and making false statements to federal agents as part of a sealed plea agreement.
Count 7 of the indictment pertains to the delivery of a $5,000 bribe to Pomierski from what is described as “Business A,” an entity known to have been the now-defunct Chronic Cantina through Crebs and Sanchez.   The Chronic Cantina restaurant opened in 2007 but was forced to shut down in April 2009 in the aftermath of vigorous city code enforcement at the establishment. Pomierski on Thursday acknowledged accepting $5,000 from “Business A” in exchange for assisting the business in obtaining a new conditional use permit. Court documents filed in conjunction with Pomierski’s plea say that between August 2009 and October 2009, Pomierski was in contact with Crebs, 39, regarding the restaurant/nightspot. Pomierski consented to using his authority as mayor to obtain a new permit for the tavern in exchange for money, according to the plea documents.
During a meeting with one of the Chronic Cantina’s owners on October 26, 2009, Crebs and Sanchez, 36, were given a $10,000 check. When the bank at which the check was deposited put a two-day hold on it, an impatient Pomierski sent Crebs a text message asking, “Where’s the beef?”
Crebs attempted to reassure Pomierski that the money would soon be available. Pomierski responded with another text message. “We’re running out of time 4 me 2 hit my bank! What[s] up…” Crebs responded that he was still working on getting the check squared away. When the check finally cleared, Crebs provided Pomierski’s business, JP Construction, with a $5,000 check.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry Behnke, who prosecuted Pomierski, offered no public statement.
In response to a request for comment, Pomierski tersely said, “Not now.” Later in the day, the phone at his home office for J P Construction was left off the hook for several hours.   Neither his criminal attorney, H. Dean Steward, nor his personal attorney, Robert Schauer, returned repeated phone messages seeking comment.
Ray Musser, who twice ran unsuccessfully against Pomierski for mayor in 2004 and 2008 and succeeded him by being elevated to the mayor’s post after Pomierski’s resignation last year a week in advance of his indictment, refused to dance on his one-time political rival’s grave.
“I feel so sorry for his family and JP, as well,” Musser said. “I really don’t have anything more to say except that this went on so long, it is good to see this come to a conclusion and get it behind us.”
Pomierski faces a maximum of ten years in federal prison and a fine/restitution of up to $250,000. Steward has asked Judge Virginia Phillips, who is scheduled to sentence Pomierski on August 6, that Pomierski be given 24 months in a minimal security facility intended for white collar offenders.
The plea arrangement does not vacate the other nine counts lodged against Pomierski and they will remain on the docket pending resolution until August 6, at which time Phillips will have the option of dismissing them upon a motion by Steward if the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not object.

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