District Attorney files misdemeanor charge against county school board trustee Jeff Belle for lying on ballot statement

Jeff Belle

Jeff Belle

By Allen Payton

Following an investigation, Contra Costa District Attorney Mark A. Peterson announced today, Wednesday, August 5, 2015 the filing of a single misdemeanor charge alleging a violation of section 18351 of the California Elections Code against Jeffery J. Belle, Area 5 Trustee for the Contra Costa County Board of Education. Belle DA Complaint 08-05-15

According to a press release from Peterson, “It is alleged that Jeffrey [sic] Belle, a candidate in an election, knowingly made a false statement of a material fact in a candidate’s statement with the intent to mislead the voters in connection with his campaign for election to a nonpartisan office.”

Belle was elected last November, defeating incumbent County School Board Trustee Cynthia Ruehlig.

Voters are entitled to know the truth about their candidates when they are voting.” Peterson said, “The democratic process is fundamental to our system of government. The integrity of our elections is fundamental to that process and must be protected.”

Section 18351 of the Elections Code reads “Any candidate in an election or incumbent in a recall election who knowingly makes a false statement of a material fact in a candidate’s statement, prepared pursuant to Section 11327 or 13307, with the intent to mislead the voters in connection with his or her campaign for nomination or election to a nonpartisan office is punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).”

On his ballot statement Belle stated he had a “Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.” Ruehlig & Belle candidate statements

However, in an October article by Herald staff, “according to The Office of the Registrar at Oklahoma City University, although Belle did attend the school, and did study political science, he did not receive a degree from them.”

In an interview with this writer, on October 27, 2014 Belle admitted that he did not have a degree because he still had to pay some fees to the school. He explained that Oklahoma City University works with American University in a program called the Washington Semester, the hours from which applied to his degree.

I still owe American University for room and board for that semester of almost $3,000,” Belle claimed. “However, in 1989 I walked in the graduation, and they acknowledge it, but they won’t confer the degree, until then.”

I don’t have to take any more courses,” he added. “That’s why I’m able to take the Master’s degree program in Public Administration, with an emphasis in Health Policy and Public Policy, from the American Public University System.”

However, his explanation about the fees has proven to be false, as well. Earlier this year, his now-estranged wife, Carmen stated the fees had been withheld from her tax return, yet Jeff still didn’t have his degree. He was working toward a Master’s degree, last year, but Belle had to discontinue that since he did not yet have his Bachelor’s degree, which is required in order to obtain a Master’s degree.

Belle’s false claim of a college degree on his candidate’s statement and false explanation appear to be part of a pattern.

The October Herald article further stated:

“Belle has also come under fire for making false claims regarding his education. For example, at one time he claimed to have obtained a Ph.D. from Harrington University, in London. The ‘school’ is well-documented as a diploma mill, where, according to some reports, degrees could be obtained for as little as $1400, and have even been handed out to pet dogs and cats. During his October 22 [2014] press conference, however, Belle admitted he did not have a Ph.D.

Belle has repeatedly given conflicting statements regarding his education. On his application to serve as Antioch’s representative to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority – Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CCTA-CAC), received by the Antioch City Clerk’s office on July 30, 2013, Belle states that he is scheduled to complete a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) in 2014 from Grand Canyon University. On his Linked-in profile, though, he states that he received his MPA from American Public University System in 2014. At the media event he held on October 22, Belle admitted he has no Master’s Degree.

Also on the CCTA-CAC application, Belle states that he has a BS in Political Science from Oklahoma City University / American Public University.

A different statement appears on his linked-in profile, where he says that he obtained that degree from Oklahoma City University in 1988. At the media event he held on October 22, Belle was repeatedly asked by CBS Channel 5 television reporter Da Lin whether or not he had a Bachelor’s degree at all. Belle, at one point, mentioned having obtained a Bachelor’s degree from ‘Biosystems Institute,’ but then quickly backpedaled, and refused to address the question further.”

His LinkedIn profile now states next to Education, “American Public University System.”

More recently, Belle continued his pattern of making false statements with regards to his residency.

When asked where he now lives, in response to both a Facebook post by Carmen, that she and her daughter now live in Sacramento, after he and they were evicted from their rented Antioch home in April, as well as rumors Belle was no longer living in his district, he said he now lives in Brentwood. Carmen said Jeff had told her that he lives in Pittsburg. Yet, the information Belle provided to the County Office of Education was an address for a mailbox inside a mailing business in Antioch.

After emails and a phone call, last month, informing staff for the County Office of Education about the location of Belle’s address that they had on file, the following week, Katie Gaines, Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources provided a new address as reported to her by Belle. That address has been confirmed to be a residence in Antioch, within the district. But, it has not yet been confirmed if he actually lives there.

Belle represents parts of Antioch, Pittsburg, Bay Point and Brentwood, and all of Oakley, Bethel Island, Knightsen and Clyde on the board.

According to the District Attorney’s press release, the maximum penalty for a violation of California Elections Code section 18351 is $1,000.

Check back for more details as this story further unfolds.

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the attachments to this post:

Belle DA Complaint 08-05-15
Belle DA Complaint 08-05-15

Ruehlig & Belle candidate statements
Ruehlig & Belle candidate statements


8 Comments to “District Attorney files misdemeanor charge against county school board trustee Jeff Belle for lying on ballot statement”

  1. Wayne Steffen says:

    Is there any effort to start a recall campaign? This man seems to be truth-challenged.

    • John Smith says:

      So you want to waste our time, money and energy on a recall campaign when crooks like Nancy P. continually get reelected? Wow, talk about something to be afraid of…this guy is trying to change the status quo within our schools and because the “media says” his stories don’t add up we need to “halt the presses” and do a recall? Lol…okay. I guess he’s in position to destroy the entire state right? We better hurry up and get him out of office huh!?

      I think we should do an investigation on our “agenda directed” media outlets first. The dirt we would uncover there would make everyone forget this guy even existed. We all know this but I don’t hear ANYONE talking about that. Good people of Antioch, let’s actually put our focus where it belongs and will actually reap some benefit, THE ISSUES. The systemic problems that plague us from a social economic to education, to law & order. I could care less what school this guy did or didn’t graduate from, if he does his job and makes a difference (which I’ve heard he’s been doing by the way) then that’s all that matters. How easy is it for a crook or career politician to gain trust and thereby access to power and influence just because his/her “resume” reads nice and checks out. OMG people like this guy they posted, please WAKE up…

  2. Reginald Jamal Brown says:

    I’ve said it before. .. I fear for the citizens and children of Antioch with this lunatic in office. I recall some yahoo was posting about how Belle was some kind of messiah.

    Wake up good people of Antioch and get your city back. Unless it’s too late and Antioch is truly filled with a bunch of moronic criminal low lifes.

  3. Joe says:

    The voters elected him despite warnings about him.

  4. John Smith says:

    It’s interesting how this blog only focuses on smear tactics and any negativity they can find.
    What about his actual performance and contributions? I never heard them mention any of that.

    I guess it still holds true, the media will ALWAYS focus on the negative because that garners people’s attention. For every negative statement and story, there’s at least 10-20 positive stories that go untold and reported.

    I wonder how’s he’s done since this was posted. Has anyone even bothered to follow up? The lack of follow up leads me to think that he must be doing a good job otherwise they would’ve made certain to publish a follow up story(s) to highlight the “I told you so” rhetoric. So all of this just for this guy, who may have a not so perfect or “checkered” past to get elected AND ACTUALLY DO SOME GOOD. Maybe he’s just not so good and hiding and covering up his past like the rest of our “righteous” elected officials. Well the people have spoken, he’s in office and doing his job and you haven’t heard anything yet. But no one will remember that, only the “crap” that the media smeared but were unsuccessful in making it “stick” (no pun intended).

    More power to people like him, those of us who despite our mistakes won’t and don’t let yesterday’s problems become today’s roadblocks. And to all you self righteous fakes who want to spew hatred about someone how had the heart and perseverance to push through the “digital hatred”, I bet you’d crumble under 1/10th of the weight he just lifted…weaklings!

  5. Publisher says:

    Mr. Belle’s case for lying on his ballot statement continues and he has to yet to go to trial. We will continue to cover the case through to its conclusion, as it of importance to the public.
    Allen Payton, Publisher

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jeff Belle lives in Sacramento. He is clearly a narcissist at best, a deluded man needing antipsychotic medication at worst. It is unfathomable how this man could hold any elected position. He has also claimed fallacious credentials; everything from being a district attorney to a lawyer – none of which are true. He belongs in a psychiatric facility – not a school board in an area he does not even live in.

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