AUGUST 17, 2006
Two longtime councilmen of a Southern California city charged with various felonies-including perjury and extortion-claim they committed the crimes because they wanted to be good fathers.
Both men, one of them the city’s former mayor, are accused of violating numerous laws and ethic standards by voting for legislation that financially favored businesses owned by their respective adult children. The councilmen’s defense: “I was just being a dad.”
Murrieta Councilman Warnie Enochs, an electrician, not only worked on the city’s largest shopping center to help his son, who is also an electrician, the councilman later voted to expand the project which he had previously opposed because it would increase traffic. Enochs has been charged with extortion, forgery and subordination for perjury and is scheduled for trial this fall.
This week, Murrieta’s former mayor, Jack van Haaster, was arrested and charged with 10 felonies, including perjury and filing false financial documents. Van Haaster not only lied about his hefty financial interest in his daughter’s Murrieta daycare business, he pressured city officials to issue permits during his tenure and voted for a road improvement project that included paving a road next to the three-acre parcel his daughter was buying to expand the daycare. Additionally, Haaster failed to report more than half a million dollars in loans from city residents and businesses, as required by law.
The scandal involving his daughter’s daycare center basically led to van Haaster’s recall a few years ago. Now he faces up to eight years in prison if convicted. This seems like quite a bit of action for a relatively small city of 85,000 in Riverside County, not exactly Southern California’s hot spot or bastion of political action.
Inside Riverside posts that the strange aroma in Riverside County today is the smell of fear. It smells like elected officials soiling themselves because someone over at the DA’s (District Attorney) office actually cares what is reported (or not reported) on the Statements of Economic Interest that they’re required to file each year.
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