What’d we say about DAVE ELLIS? What’d we say? Ooo, is he in hot water now!


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When we – and that’s the royal “we” – wrote at the conclusion of our War and Peace-length litany of OC Fair Board chairman Dave Ellis’ misdeeds that “His long streak of impunity is coming to an end… the shadows are closing around him… etc. etc.” many of you no doubt said to yourselves, “Those Vern – they’re just indulging in magical thinking against a guy they find reprehensible;  casting silly imprecations they hope will stick;  people like Dave Ellis never get busted;   and Vern are tilting at windmills as usual.”

Well, now we have one word for you, and that word is “WINNING!”

As you may recall from our piece, Mr. Ellis has been involved in at least as much hinkiness up in San Bernardino County, where he and District Attorney Mike Ramos are thick as thieves, as he has in his own county (where DA Rackauckas just doesn’t bother going after politically-connected criminals.)

Well, you know who doesn’t give a rat’s ass how much the local DA likes you?  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that’s who!  Our invaluable pals at InlandPolitics.com filled us in yesterday on the web inexorably closing on Dave and his cronies up there, now that the Feds, and wiretaps, are involved!

Some choice excerpts:

Information is starting to spill out as federal agents and prosecutors bear down on political and governmental activities in San Bernardino County.

And what is being said is alarming.

A common and also troubling thread within the information coming to light is none other than O.C.-based consultant David Ellis, owner of Delta Partners LLC and The David Ellis Group.

Ellis, a long-time political operative in both the O.C. and Inland Empire, has a reputation for a “Take no prisoners.” or “It’s better to do it and ask for forgiveness later” attitude.

It’s an attitude that has kept him on the outer fringe of regulatory and legal hassles.

However all of this may soon change.

In San Bernardino County, Ellis has no problem letting it be known that he’s the political right arm of District Attorney Mike Ramos.

A position which clearly has given him broad latitude in operating in the county unchecked.

A relationship Ellis has been able to parlay into handsome “no-bid” contracts from the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association (SBCERA) and Yucaipa Valley Water District.

However, what’s coming to light now is more than just politics as usual.

An individual using the power of government in plotting to neutralize political speech, in other words donors, while favoring his allies is different.

It’s the type of activity which leads to leveraging the power of law enforcement in a highly unethical and potentially illegal manner.

All with the cover, protection and blessing of a county prosecutor.

City of Upland

First, it has become known that Ellis was heavily involved in the 2008 mayoral and city council election campaigns in Upland.

A successful campaign which opposed recently-appointed Upland Mayor Ray Musser, while supporting indicted Mayor John “J.P.” Pomierski and sitting councilman Ken Willis.

A campaign where Ellis’ connection to Ramos was employed.

Sources are telling InlandPolitics.com that behind the scenes in the Pomierski-Willis campaign was the Lewis Group of Companies.

The Lewis Group of Companies is a billion dollar plus developer headquartered in Upland.

The Lewis Group is also a strong ally and donor to Ramos.

Apparently, in 2008, Ellis made verbal agreements with the late David Lewis, to keep the Lewis name “visibly” out of the election.

Ellis was successful. No one knew of the Lewis Group’s backing of Pomierski and Willis.

Lewis, an executive-vice president and one heir to the family fortune, who several sources report, was cooperating as an informant in an ongoing investigation into county corruption, committed suicide at his Las Vegas home last year.

An terrible event that was barely covered by the local media. It seems the Lewis family worked frantically to make the news of the young executives passing fade quickly.

And it did.

Very few in Upland political circles believe Lewis killed himself. The common speculation is his death was a homicide.

A shotgun wound to the chest is very painful and not always immediate. Many agree it’s a method of suicide that seems incompatible to Lewis.

The extent of the Lewis Group’s campaign support is unknown at this time. Only the players, and federal investigators, really know.

Victorville Meltdown

Next we have the City of Victorville. A city currently in financial disarray.

Victorville, in its own way, is a different version of Bell, California.

Many sources believe Ellis client, William “Buck” Johns, President of O.C.-based Inland Energy is a key figure behind Victorville’s financial meltdown.

Those sources are most likely correct in their assumptions.

Ellis has been Johns’ political operative in Victorville for a significant number of years. The San Bernardino County Grand Jury has reportedly been examining Ellis’ more recent campaign tactics and mailed literature used in Victorville elections.

Multiple investigations involving Victorville’s financial transactions have been ongoing for some time.

However those investigations have garnered a new ally.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the investigatory arm of the U.S. Department of Justice has now joined the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the San Bernardino County Grand Jury, in examining Victorville.

The SEC has been investigating to determine if the city misled bond investors by way of inadequate disclosure of risk.

The USCIS has been investigating the city’s failed EB-5 Worker Visa Program. A program Victorville paid Johns handsomely to initiate.

In what is described as an unusual and rare move, the USCIS terminated the Victorville EB-5 Program late last year.

…Sources report one of the focuses of federal investigators is alleged questionable contracts and payments that former city manager Jon Roberts approved at the direction of former Mayor Terry Caldwell.

Payments which benefited Johns and reportedly done without council approval.

Many believe Johns turned Victorville into his own private piggy-bank to the detriment of the city’s residents.

Now it looks like all the feeding at the trough is coming to an end.

[more about Ellis & Johns’ Victorville Power Plant ripoff, the Shahvand Aryana underage raves, and Ellis’ ruination of the San Bernardino County Employees Retirement Association, which I went into at length in my earlier piece]

What’s about to significantly complicate matters for many players here is the fact that one source says significant court-ordered electronic surveillance has been ongoing for some time now.

Surveillance of the audio recording type.

Sources also indicate some individuals may have crossed the line.

In various conversations, sources say Ellis and his clients discuss political tactics, including active and potential criminal prosecutions, which benefit the political and business interest of his various clients.

The aforementioned, and other conversations involving discussions on how best to impact political and business enemies may come to light shortly.

Expect the FBI stay in San Bernardino County to be protracted.

Shit, down here in the OC we’ll be happy when Jerry Brown takes this crook off the Fair Board before he causes any more damage! Oh, jail time we wouldn’t complain about either.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.