Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yeah, I bribed him but . . .

Let me get this straight.

In 1992, a guy in Colton, California wanted to develop some property but needed a road built to it, and he signed a contract that said he would build the road at his expense if the city let him develop his property.

But, the road was going to cost big bucks and wasn't built.

OK, I get that.

Seven years pass, in 1999 the guy bribed a Colton City Councilman, greasing his palm with $4,986 (these guys get cheaper all the time). As a result, the developer won a new contract that required the city to pay for the road. Yes, the same one he had agreed to build himself in 1992.

In 2003, the FBI nabbed the guy for the 1999 bribe of the council-crook, and the developer pleaded guilty to a federal rap.

Five years later, in 2008, the convicted briber sued Colton to force it to uphold its end of the bribe-tainted 1999 contract, and pay for the road. It didn't matter, to him at least, that the 1999 deal was the fruit of his crime.

The following year, in 2009, the city dug up the original 1992 contract. Officials then asked the briber to pay the city $408,398.70 that it had spent on the road. (The city explained it didn’t find the original contract sooner because city staffers "who had been involved with the contract back in 1992 had long since left the employ of the city." You mean, when a Colton city manager leaves he takes the public records with him? Nevermind.)

Anyhow, in 2010, the city counter-sued the developer-briber to stop enforcement of the 1999 contract, which if validated by the court, would end up costing Colton taxpayers about $1 million.

So, today, the suit/counter-suit is winding through the San Bernardino County courts. It's a good bet that a common-sense jury will quickly see that the briber is trying to gain from his crime, and will kick him hard in the butt, and while they're at it, order him to repay the city the $408,398.70 it spent on the road.

As an appellate court which recently ruled on legal issues in the case stated: “Given the amount of evidence related to (the) bribery . . . it is probable that the city will be able to show (the developer) procured the 1999 contract by bribery.”

I think of it this way. It is one thing to murder somebody and get convicted. It is quite another to murder somebody, get convicted and then argue to collect the victim’s life insurance.

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