Ex-Riverside official faces charges over landscaping
A former Riverside redevelopment official was charged with attempted grand theft, accused of trying to have a city contractor do $12,000 of landscaping work at his home and slip the city the bill, the Riverside County district attorney’s office announced Monday.
While overseeing construction of a new police station on Magnolia Avenue in March, Gregory Bernard Griffin, a senior project manager with the city’s development department, met with a subcontractor who was drawing up estimates for the landscaping at the new station.
Investigators say Griffin asked the landscaping estimator, Gary Thomas, to accompany him to his house, where he ordered landscaping work for his front and back yards.
Griffin told Thomas to bill his home landscaping fee to the general contractor on the Magnolia Street Project because the contractor “owed him some favors,” according to court documents.
The general contractor, James “Pete” O’Hara, alerted city and police officials. Less than a week later, Riverside police investigators surreptitiously recorded a phone conversation in which Griffin told O’Hara directly that he wanted the home landscaping work written into the budget for the new police station, authorities say.
Griffin told police he “was trying to get the city a better overall price by purchasing in volume” and planned to “intercept” the bill and pay for the work on his home, according to court papers.
Griffin faces up to three years in state prison if convicted of attempted misappropriation of funds, attempted grand theft and having an illegal conflict of interest in a public contract.