More on Barry Bruins: 'It sounds just like him'

Today's story about Mike Aguirre's latest outrage mentioned this about one of his key aides:

The affidavit [seeking the Sunroad search warrant] was signed by Barry Bruins, an investigator in Aguirre's office. Before joining Aguirre's public integrity unit, Bruins worked in the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, where he was demoted after he was accused of helping leak information about an ongoing corruption investigation to the political opponent of one of the targets.

Bruins sued San Bernardino County for $1.7 million, claiming he was made a scapegoat in a political dust-up. The case was later dismissed.

Here's a little more about Bruins' past, from a 2001 Riverside Press-Enterprise story:

In a second move to discipline staffers, [San Bernardino County] District Attorney Dennis Stout on Monday demoted his chief investigator, who was secretly tape-recorded aiding an opponent of Supervisor Jerry Eaves.

Barry Bruins was demoted to supervising investigator, said Mike Donovan, Bruins' interim replacement. ...

Former Rialto City Councilman Ed Scott recorded Bruins, Stout and former Assistant District Attorney Dan Lough discussing their investigation of Eaves last year. Scott made the tapes for a Sheriff's Department/FBI task force.

Here's a link to the internal investigation stemming from the scandal. Keep in mind when reading it that the agency it comes from -- the San Bernardino County D.A. -- had a vested interest in downplaying what Bruins and others had done because of how it reflected on the D.A.'s office.

The D.A. staffer who wrote the report nevertheless concluded, among other things, that in providing information on a county supervisor to his election opponent, Bruins had not met professional standards; that the D.A. should turn over a huge pending corruption probe of that county supervisor to the state attorney general because of the failings of Bruins and two of his colleagues, including the D.A. himself; and that the D.A.'s office should strive to reform its ways in dealing with "Public Integrity Crimes" and the leaking of info in such investigations.

I happen to have known Ed Scott, the Rialto councilman who wore a wire at the FBI's behest in his dealings with Bruins, since 1997. When I was a metro columnist at the Daily Bulletin in Ontario, I found that Scott lived up to his reputation as the truest, bluest Boy Scout politician one could imagine. He was -- is -- a straightshooter. A great example: Scott never used the info on Eaves that was provided to him by Bruins and another D.A. employee in his campaign against Eaves or leaked the info to a reporter. (He lost by less than 2 percent of the vote.)

Yesterday, I talked to him about Bruins and his role in Aguirre's baseless search warrant and abuse of power. Here's what Ed said:

"It sounds just like him."

Now to get back to the larger issue: What this says about Mike Aguirre. Most city attorneys would be leery of hiring someone punished by his own former agency for playing political games while in a law-enforcement position. Aguirre probably thought, hey, I could sure use a guy like that. And he did.

Posted by Chris Reed at March 30, 2007 11:51 AM