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Prosecutor to remain on Honeycutt case, despite promotion

Michael Fermin promoted, tells judge he will remain on CCA case

Staff Writer

The defendants in the California Charter Academy trial have already been through several attorneys, but despite a recent promotion, their prosecutor won’t be going anywhere.

Michael Fermin, who has been the lead prosecutor in the prosecution of former mayor Tad Honeycutt and CCA head Steven Cox since their indictment in Sept. 2007, will be promoted to assistant district attorney in October. (He’s currently a supervising deputy district attorney.)

But he’ll remain on the case when it eventually comes to trial, he told Judge Jon Ferguson Friday morning in Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court.

Between them, Honeycutt and Cox face 117 felony charges related to the financial transactions connected to the defunct CCA.

At the time of its collapse in Aug. 2004, California Charter Academy 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 CCA founder Cox, Honeycutt and others of misappropriating $23 million in state and federal taxpayer funds. The charges ultimately filed against Cox and Honeycutt center on an alleged $5.5 million in illegal transactions between the CCA and a for-profit subsidiary run by Honeycutt.

Honeycutt is charged with 15 counts of Misappropriation of Public Funds, 15 counts of Grand Theft, three counts of failure to file a state tax return and a single count filing a false tax return. If convicted, Honeycutt could face 20 years in prison.

Phelan resident Cox is charged with 56 counts of Misappropriation of Public Funds, 56 counts of Grand Theft and a single count of failing to file a tax return. If convicted, Cox faces up to 64 years in prison.

Honeycutt was the third member of his family to serve Hesperia as an elected official, serving 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.

Although San Bernardino attorney Grover Porter has represented Honeycutt since the beginning, Cox’s public defender, Gary K. Wynings, is his third attorney since 2007.

“We still have some discovery we’re looking to get,” Wynings told Ferguson on Friday. He’s reportedly still digging through more than 40,000 pages of documents related to the prosecution’s case turned over to him by Fermin’s office.

Honeycutt and Cox are next due in court on Jan. 27, 2012.

Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.


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