On June 22, 2010 the Solano County DA’s office charged businessman Jules Arthur, and 4 associates, in the deaths of 2 senior citizens killed in an accidental Vallejo fire. (source Vallejo Times-Herald, Sept. 4, 2010).
The prosecutors say a Vallejo senior citizen project owned by Arthur’s San Diego-based ‘The Amerland Group’ burned down. 2 people lost their lives. The fire’s origin was purely accidental, but local newspapers report the building’s fire alarm system had been turned off. Arthur and his colleagues adamantly deny the DA’s charges of involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse. Their next hearing is set for October 18th in Fairfield, California.
The formal charges followed a lengthy investigation stretching back to 2009. The ‘Voice of San Diego’ outlined that probe in its June 28, 2009, issue with considerable detail, putting the story into local San Diego circulation.
So it is a major surprise that career prosecutor Howard Wayne took a $100 campaign donation from a “Jules Arthur” on May 21, 2010. Wayne’s disclosure statement at the City Clerk’s office says Mr. Arthur’s occupation is “real estate, The Amerland Group” and lists a San Diego address.
Those campaign finance reports do NOT show that donation has been returned as of Sept. 30. The donation has been in the hands of the Wayne campaign now for over 4 months.
Howard Wayne understandably features his lengthy service (30 years) as a deputy State Attorney General in his current campaign for San Diego City Council.
But HOW does career prosecutor Wayne accept, and keep money from someone who appears to be charged in 2 involuntary manslaughter counts by fellow career prosecutors in Solano county?
Adding irony, Wayne’s own colleagues from the California State Attorney General’s office were at the last court hearing (Sept. 2, 2010), asking that the contractor’s license for Mr. Arthur be “restricted” as a condition of his bail. The AG’s office was representing the State Contractors Licensing Board. A Judge denied the AG’s request (source: the Vallejo Times Herald).
Making it worse for Mr. Wayne is that this story won’t go away. The next hearing in that high-profile criminal case is set for next Monday , October 18.
………The Vallejo Times-Herald reported Sept. 4, 2010:
“A court hearing for five people facing manslaughter and elder abuse charges stemming from a fatal 2008 fire at the historic Casa de Vallejo retirement home will be held next month. Solano County Superior Court Judge Allan P. Carter on Thursday scheduled 9 a.m. Oct.18 for a preliminary hearing into the charges against Amerland Group executive Jules Arthur (and 4 others) .
In June, the defendants were each charged with two counts of manslaughter, two counts of elder abuse resulting in death and one count of elder abuse involving 119 former residents of the Sonoma Boulevard retirement hotel. All five defendants have pleaded not guilty and are free on $250,000 bail each.”
Thanks also to the San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times for the stories they have filed on the same matter.
So the key questions being asked by veteran local San Diego political observers tonight are these:
1. How could Howard Wayne have taken this donation?
2. And How soon will he give the money back to Mr. Arthur?