Corrupt Developer Meaney’s Hacienda Theft Case Dropped
The Riverside DA decided not to prosecute corrupt developer Richard Meaney’s former employee for theft from the Hacienda Hotel scam. Rule of Law, estoppel, and various other legal doctrines prohibit the government from claiming that Meaney is a reliable witness in one court, and a guilty of bribery, corruption and theft of public money in another. How much public money was ripped off by John Wessman in the Hacienda Hotel scam?
Prosecutors Friday dropped all charges against a former Hacienda Cantina manager who was accused of stealing from Richard Meaney, likely because the businessman is no longer considered a reliable witness since he was implicated in the Palm Springs corruption case. Bob Wills, the former manager and bookkeeper at the restaurant, was arrested last June on allegations that he stole $26,000 from Meaney and his wife, Heidi. Wills told The Desert Sun that he had earned the money, and that the Meaney’s had essentially accused him of stealing his own paycheck. During a brief hearing on Friday, prosecutors moved to dismiss the case in the “interest of justice” but made no other statement in court.
Wills attorney, Mario Rodriguez, said the corruption accusations against Meaney made it so prosecutors simply couldn’t push both cases forward. “If it had gone to a jury trial in the Wills case, all that stuff would have been brought in from the other case,” destroying Meaney’s credibility, Rodriguez said.
Wills worked at Hacienda from early 2015 until the restaurant closed the following November. He realized the restaurant was collapsing that summer when there wasn’t enough revenue to make payroll. Twice, Wills said, Meaney had to pull money from one of his other companies — Union Abbey — to stay afloat.
Reporter Jesse Marx contributed to this report. Reporter Brett Kelman