Imagine if you would dear readers, two state assemblymembers, a mayor, a city councilmember, five school board members, a former city council member, and a city council chief of staff being arrested by the FBI for accepting bribes in exchange for awarding public contracts. That's what happened this week in New Jersey when a federal 18 month investigation into cash for contracts resulted in the arrests of 11 public officials.
Two cooperating witnesses working with undercover agents working out of a phony insurance company made the bribes and recorded the exchanges with those 11 public officials that have been charged with extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion.
It makes one wonder if such a corruption probe is underway here in Riverside County. It's not difficult to imagine since there are many shady and strange dealings in County Government and several of the cities of Riverside County.
According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Wysen Dun "The FBI continues to fight corruption as it seems there is a never-ending supply of elected officials willing to subvert their positions and lay themselves on the alter of public disgrace."
The alter of public disgrace. Hmmmm. Do those comments apply to elected officials in Riverside County that seem to be in the pockets of the home builders that keep building homes that are pushing too many people on to the county's roads and into are already overcrowded schools? Do they help explain why Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle abruptly retired from office taking a mediocre appointment with the state?
It's been a long time since Norton Younglove and Walt Abraham were on the Board of Supervisors, but the spectre of the good old boy way they ran Riverside County still hangs over the County Government. It was only ten years ago after all that the FBI raided the Board offices looking for evidence of corruption tied to the El Sobrante Landfill, Western Waste/USA Waste and Kosti Shirvanian. While no charges were ever filed, its still something that had a major impact on the Board of Supervisors who don't like FBI agents going through their offices and reading their appointment calendars.
Since the Royal Doyle's sudden resignation from office rumors of corruption, some old and some new , have been circulating throughout the halls of power in Riverside County. The prevailing thought is that Doyle chose to leave because there is an investigation into his abuse of power in the Sheriff's Department. While the FBI and the US Attorney have not commented on any such investigation, there does appear to be some issues that could merit investigation and give probable cause for federal warrants being issued.
Questions have arisen whether or not Doyle and his Command Staff took kickbacks from Nextel to win a contract from the Sheriffs Department. Some have even said that Doyle and a handful of others received high value Rolex watches for the contract. An audit of county contracts and an examination of a few high ranking Sheriffs officials wrists could answer that one rather quickly.
Woodcrest Uniform could also be a focal point of any investigation that is happening. For years the Sheriff's Department used Inland Uniforms for outfitting uniformed personnel. But when Doyle came to power Woodcrest Uniform became the vendor of preference. There were significant campaign contributions to Doyle's campaign for Sheriff, which he was forced to return, though some speculate the money came back to his campaign later through other individuals. Doyle and other members of his Command Staff have long been rumored to be silent partners in Woodcrest Uniform. A forensic audit of their bank accounts would shed some light on to this topic.
Another possible area of investigation that should be of great concern to the general public is the allegation that Doyle's department has been trading promotions with deputies with campaign contributions. It's actually pay for play at it's purest, with those who contribute to the Doyle campaign fund finding themselves moving up the list. Outraged Sheriffs Department veterans have expressed their concern with this process claiming that the work of the Department being hampered by promoting individuals that are not ready for higher rank. All one would have to do on this one is to compare the promotion list for the last five years against Doyle's fundraising reports.
Perhaps these rumors are true, maybe they are not. With a Sheriffs Department that is not forthcoming to the public and a complacent press, it leaves us to speculate what's really going on over there and whether law enforcement is the mission of today's Sheriff's Department. It is for the men and the women on the streets and working in the jails. However, the Command Staff on the Second Floor for too long has been concerned with amassing power and not in protecting the public.
We can only hope dear readers that there will soon be a new Sheriff that is committed to public safety and not his or her own egotistical gains. If not then rest assured not only could it happen here, but it probably will. And while that may be good for blogging traffic, it won't be good for the county.