A former Gustine city councilman has been fined $400 for failing to disclose all of his financial interests during 2005 and 2006, which is required by state law.
Mark Melville was fined in August by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission for not declaring that he had a financial interest in a company he owns called Strategic Consulting Group (SCG).
The complaint that sparked the investigation and fine alleged Melville had a conflict of interest while on the Gustine City Council. According to the complaint, Melville was consulting for a company which had an ongoing development project before the City Council. Melville neither recused himself nor informed the public of the alleged conflict.
Roman Porter, the FPPC's executive director, said the investigation couldn't find evidence to substantiate the claims of conflict of interest made in the complaint.
"The only thing the FPPC could find was that I did not fill out two financial interest statements," said Melville. He also denied any conflict of interest.
The complaint, filed by Planada resident Bryant Owens, a local activist who has a history of making such allegations, claims Melville was paid $9,870 through his consulting company in 2005 for work he did on a joint venture called Pacific Holt Residential Communities (PHRC). At the same time, one of the companies in the joint venture -- Ranchwood Homes -- was working on a development project in Gustine called Borrelli Ranch.
Melville said he consulted through his company SCG for Pacific Holt Corp. to mediate on a Planada project. As far as Melville knew, Pacific Holt Corp. was paying him; Ranchwood Homes had nothing to do with it.
While Melville said he never worked for PHRC, in a PHRC memo included in the complaint Melville was named as the Planada project's manager.
Will Washburn, a civil engineer who worked on the Planada project, said there was no mystery about who was paying the bills. "Our client's name was PHRC," he said. Washburn also said they were led to believe that their client, PHRC, was a group of investors -- not one entity. He recalled talking to Melville about several subjects on the phone.
Pacific Holt Corp. has denied any knowledge of PHRC, but a memo in the complaint showed that the two entities have the same phone number.
Besides serving on Gustine's City Council, Melville was at one time Gustine's and Livingston's city manager and Gustine's police chief. He was also liaison to local governments for John Condren's Riverside Motorsports Park.
Reporter Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at (209) 385-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.