Former mayor Tad Honeycutt is closer to having his day in court, but when it comes, it won't be in the Victor Valley.
The trial of Honeycutt and co-defendant C. Steven Cox has been moved from the Victorville Superior Court to Fontana. Judge Jules E. Fleuret made the ruling at a pre-trial hearing Friday morning.
"Two judges in this courthouse have disqualified themselves from this case," due to knowing one of the parties involved, said Fleuret. "I'm going to disqualify myself for the same reason."
The well-connected Honeycutt is the third member of his family to serve the city as an elected official. He was a Hesperia City Councilman from 2000 to 2008. His father, Theron, was a councilman from 1991 to 1995. His mother, Kathleen, represented the 34th Assembly District in the California State Legislature from 1993 to 1994. Honeycutt was also active for years in Victor Valley Republican politics, raising funds that ultimately helped a number of elected officials into office.
Fleuret's decision means all three felony court judges in Victorville are unable to hear the matter, forcing a move.
Honeycutt and California Charter Academy founder Cox were arrested September 4, 2007. They face 117 felony charges between them related to alleged illegal transactions between the CCA and a for-profit subsidiary run by Honeycutt.
At the time of its collapse in August 2004, CCA was the largest charter school in California, with 36 schools around the state. An audit, commissioned by the California Department of Education, and released in April 2005, accused Cox, Honeycutt and others of misappropriating $23 million in state and federal taxpayer funds.
The 2007 charges specifically relate to 37 alleged cases of funds being transferred from the non-profit CCA to for-profit entities intended to provide school services at a lower cost. Honeycutt headed up one such entity, Everything For Schools, that the audit said marked up schoolbooks by more than 50 percent before reselling them to CCA schools. The funds were allegedly transferred without the legally required oversight from the governing board.
Cox and Honeycutt face charges of misappropriation of public funds, grand theft, failure to file a state tax return and filing a false tax return. Honeycutt faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Cox faces up to 64.
Judge Art Harrison in Fontana will hear their case in a pre-trial hearing on August 20. Fleuret also said the trial would take place within 60 days of that date, but if Cox gets a new public defender -- his current one is based out of the Victorville courthouse -- the trial could be further delayed.
(Both defendants' assets were frozen following their 2007 indictments. Although Cox is represented by the San Bernardino County public defender's office, Honeycutt is represented by the office of San Bernardino attorney Grover Porter.)
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.