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San Bernardino County Sheriff investigating criminal activity at city hall

Berdoo Bankrupt

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

San Bernardino city council caps a 3-hour budget hearing by grimly approving authorization for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials, San Bernardino city police and other law enforcement agencies have been investigating possible criminal activity within the city's government.

In a release Thursday, Sheriff-Coroner Rod Hoops says the investigation began at the request of city officials several months ago.

"Several months ago at the request of San Bernardino city officials, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, along with the San Bernardino Police Department and the district attorney’s office began an investigation related to allegations of possible criminal activity within departments of the San Bernardino city government," according to a statement on the L.A. Times. "The investigation is continuing, and details will not be released at this time. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available."

The San Bernardino Police Department and district attorney's office are also involved in the multi-agency investigation.

San Bernardino Chief Robert Handy declined to say what current or former administrators may be the focus of the probe.

The investigation was triggered by revelations that information may have been fabricated in 13 of the last 16 city budgets, Handy said.

In an interview with Airtalk's Larry Mantle, Mayor Patrick Morris said cuts at the state level, labor contracts and the economic downtuwn all contributed to the issues that brought the city to this point.

"We've lost...about 60 percent of our land values," he said. "Cities are largely financed by property taxes and sales taxes when you lose both of those sources of income, you're in a world of hurt. We were particularly driven by those realities."

City attorney James Penman has claimed former city staff falsified past budget documents as far back as 15 years to make it appear that San Bernardino was in the black.

San Bernardino is the third California city poised to do declare bankruptcy in less than two weeks.

With contributions by Steven Cuevas

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