San Bernardino County on Wednesday rejected multimillion-dollar claims of two former officials in the district attorney’s office who say they were made scapegoats in an ongoing investigation of political corruption.
Dan Lough, the county’s former assistant district attorney, and Barry Bruins, former chief of the district attorney’s bureau of investigations, say Dist. Atty. Dennis Stout made them the fall guys when his office came under fire for some of its tactics during the corruption inquiry.
Their portion of the investigation focused on Supervisor Jerry Eaves, who has since been indicted on federal bribery charges and has pleaded no contest to seven state misdemeanor charges of violating conflict-of-interest laws and failing to report gifts.
During the months that preceded the election that returned Eaves to office in November, Lough, Bruins and Stout participated in the investigation of the supervisor.
Court documents show that during the same period, Lough and Bruins discussed the Eaves investigation several times with Rialto City Councilman Ed Scott, Eaves’ opponent in the supervisorial race. Unknown to Lough and Bruins, Scott taped these discussions on behalf of a joint FBI-San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department task force investigating corruption in the county.
Transcripts of the tapes show that Lough and Bruins gave Scott campaign advice, suggesting that he find a “marginally honest” private investigator to look into Eaves’ credit card records.
A subsequent internal district attorney’s office review found the relationship between Scott and Stout, Lough and Bruins ethically questionable.
In their claims filed earlier this week, Lough and Bruins contend that to save himself, Stout put all the blame on them, forcing them to accept demotions “voluntarily” or face dismissal.
Lough was demoted from the No. 2 spot in the office to a position as a deputy district attorney. His salary dropped from $127,000 a year to $94,000 a year.
Bruins was made an investigator in Fontana, with a pay cut from $95,500 a year to $75,200.
These demotions effectively ruined their careers, the two men say.
Lough said the secret tapes violated his rights of free speech and privacy. He said that although he violated no laws, and was never charged with criminal wrongdoing, “they managed to do a job on my reputation.”