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Ex-Upland mayor gets 2 years in prison in corruption case

August 6, 2012 |  5:25 pm

A former Upland mayor was sentenced Monday to two years in federal prison after being convicted of scheming to extort money and campaign contributions from businesses seeking city permits.

Click to read the indictmentJohn Pomierski, 58, who resigned as mayor of the Inland Empire city last year, is one of of four people convicted in the corruption scandal involving permits and other government approvals. He pleaded guilty in April after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

Pomierski was charged with using intermediaries to demand $70,000 in payments from the owners of an Upland nightclub and a medical marijuana cooperative to help them obtain permits. The scheme began in 2007, according to federal prosecutors.

In one case, Pomierski — at a business owner's request — was accused of urging the fire chief not to require fire sprinklers in the establishment.

Pomierski “would demand money from the owners of businesses located in the city of Upland in exchange for the performance of official acts in connection with Upland city government business and transactions," according to court records.

Aaron Sandusky, owner of the medical marijuana cooperative G3 Holistics in Upland, told The Times last year that one of Pomierski's representatives demanded $20,000 to stop efforts by the city to close the business.

Sandusky said he paid $10,000 to a go-between but refused to pay the remainder. Sandusky said he later cooperated with the FBI.

The Chronic Cantina nightclub was shut down by the city the same day its conditional use permit was revoked by the City Council. Owners of the club later sued the former mayor and city officials, alleging that Pomierski extorted money for city permits and other help.

John Edward Hennes, a member of the city's building appeals board, acted as a go-between for the deals, according to records filed by prosecutors.

Hennes' company, J.H. Builders in Upland, paid at least $90,000 in the last decade to a construction business owned by Pomierski, according to the mayor's financial disclosure forms.

Hennes pleaded guilty in November as part of a plea agreement under seal. Anthony Orlando Sanchez, a co-defendant added to the indictment in late 2011, pleaded not guilty in January in federal court in Riverside.

-- Richard Winton

Twitter: @LAcrimes