County Caught In Coverup Of Personnel Division Chief’s Prostitution Rap

San Bernardino County’s governmental structure slipped into further scandal this week with the revelation that the county’s director of human resources, Andrew Lamberto, pleaded guilty in August to soliciting a prostitute in Orange County in March and that at least some county officials knew of the incident within two days of its occurrence but had remained mum about the matter.
What remains unclear is the degree to which knowledge of Lamberto’s misadventure permeated the ranks of county administration and the board of supervisors and whether active steps were taken to keep information hidden from the public. When inquiries about a report pertaining to Lamberto that emanated out of Orange County earlier this week were made on Wednesday, the entire fifth floor of the county administrative building, where the offices and staffs of each of the supervisors and the county’s chief executive officer are lodged, went into a clinch. It was not until this afternoon, Friday October 23, that the county issued a statement, which was released by the county’s official spokesman, David Wert. The statement pointedly avoided alluding to or suggesting any involvement in or knowledge of the effort to keep Lamberto’s action under wraps.
The release was entitled “Statement from Chief Executive Officer Greg
Devereaux,” and read: “Privacy provisions usually preclude the county from disclosing personnel matters. However, in this instance, everyone involved agreed it is in the public’s best interest to provide a full accounting. On March 30, 2015, the County’s Director of Human Resources Andrew Lamberto advised me that during the preceding weekend he had been cited in Orange County on a misdemeanor charge of agreeing to engage in prostitution. Mr. Lamberto stated that he accepted responsibility for his actions and would plead guilty to the charge. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 days of community service, which he has completed, and 3 years of unsupervised probation.”
Devereaux’s statement continued: “Usually, non-work-related misdemeanors do not result in disciplinary action. However, given the nature of this incident and Mr. Lamberto’s position in the county organization, I determined that significant discipline should be imposed, and it was. In addition, Mr. Lamberto clearly understands and has agreed that even one additional issue involving his conduct, public or private, will result in his immediate dismissal.”
The next passage in Devereaux’s statement is now being widely speculated about. It reads: “Historically, disciplinary actions have been handled as purely administrative matters and not brought to the attention of the board of supervisors. Therefore I did not bring this matter to the board’s attention. However, if the board was to direct that it be notified about such matters in the future, I will certainly comply with that direction.”
Seasoned county government observers were unsure as to whether Devereaux’s statement that he had not informed the board should be taken at face value. Some expressed the belief that he was falling on his sword in an effort to protect the five members of the board of supervisors by short-circuiting any accusations that might come their way in the coming days and weeks about what they knew, when they knew it, what action they took and why they were not forthcoming earlier. Now they are faced with questions about what they did not know, and how it was, if in fact they did not know, that they were kept in the dark about pertinent information pertaining to a key county department head.
The prepared release from Wert concluded with an abject apology from Lamberto. It said: “Mr. Lamberto stated, ‘There is no acceptable excuse for my behavior. What I did was wrong, and I accept full responsibility for my actions. I deeply apologize to the CEO, the board, my fellow county employees, and the people of San Bernardino County. Public service is a privilege, and I will continue to work hard to earn the confidence of those I am fortunate enough to serve.’”
As it was, by Thursday and continuing through to today, the staffs of each of the board members were assiduously avoiding any comment at all on the matter, referring questions concerning Lamberto to Wert.
Of significance is that Lamberto, who worked in human resources for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department previously and has been county human resources director since 2005, in effect supervises the entire county workforce. San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos in the last several years has carried out a campaign in which he publicly pillories so-called “Johns,” i.e., prostitution customers, by publicly humiliating those arrested for soliciting prostitutes in San Bernardino County through the releasing of their names and photographs to news outlets. Ramos has characterized the prostitution trade as “human trafficking,” tantamount to slavery. Thus, the county is now in the rather unenviable position of having the head of its personnel division publicly associated with activity the county’s senior law enforcement official has derided as indentured servitude. This association could put county administration at a disadvantage in any future contract negotiations with the bargaining units for county employees.
Wert rejected a suggestion to that effect. “I don’t understand what the connection would be between human trafficking and complaints county employees might have over employment or conditions at the workplace, how those are related,” Wert said.
Wert rejected charges that anyone attempted to hide the incident involving Lamberto. “As Mr. Devereaux said, “It was a non-work related misdemeanor,” which therefore did not necessitate public disclosure. Additionally he said, a news “release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office [relating to Lamberto’s arrest] has been out for more than a month now.”
Asked if he was at liberty to disclose the nature of the discipline meted out to Lamberto that was alluded to by Devereaux, Wert said he was not.
The reverberations of the Lamberto incident go beyond the county government structure, tearing at the foundation of another major institution within San Bernardino County.
Laberto is a part-time faculty member at the College of Business and Public Administration at California State University San Bernardino, where he teaches public administration. He is continuing to teach there following his arrest and guilty plea.
When the Sentinel sought to reach Cal State San Bernardino President Tomás D. Morales, the call was channeled to the university’s public relations division. From that office, Dave Johnson, the university’s assistant vice president for strategic communications stated he was “unable to confirm” that the university had any knowledge about the Orange County incident involving Lamberto. “All I can confirm is that he is an instructor in the public administration department this quarter,” Johnson said.
Wert said he thought it unlikely that Devereaux had informed Morales about Lamberto’s arrest or conviction.

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