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Nestande Will Leave Board of Supervisors : Orange County Politician Resigns After Six Years on the Job and Under Cloud of Moriarty Affair

January 22, 1987|JOHN NEEDHAM and GEORGE FRANK | Times Staff Writers

Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande, whose departure had been rumored for months, resigned Wednesday, midway through his second four-year term. Nestande, a former GOP assemblyman and one-time aide to then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, said he would leave office Tuesday to pursue an unspecified career in the private sector.

Nestande, who has been under investigation by federal and local authorities in connection with the political corruption probe involving Anaheim fireworks manufacturer W. Patrick Moriarty, sought unsuccessfully to unseat Secretary of State March Fong Eu in last November's election. He joined the Board of Supervisors in 1981 after defeating controversial former Vietnam prisoner of war Edison W. Miller. Gov. George Deukmejian will appoint Nestande's successor.

Nestande, 48, said he timed his resignation announcement to come one day after the board passed a measure he had worked on for nine months to link all development in his district to the building of roads, a measure he said that "translates into no new roads, no new development."

Didn't Mention Moriarty

His statement did not mention criminal investigations or Moriarty, who is serving a federal prison sentence on mail fraud charges related to political corruption. Asked if his resignation had anything to do with investigations of Moriarty's dealings, Nestande said, "No."

Nestande said he did not know what his next job will be.

Though the timing of Nestande's announcement was a surprise, the content of his statement was not. For months, Nestande had been telling friends and colleagues on the board that he was thinking of leaving the $55,000-a-year post.

Wednesday morning, he told his staff and fellow supervisors that the day had come: He was stepping down. After shedding the coat of his blue, pin-striped suit and wait ing until the board's public agenda had been completed, he asked his colleagues for their "indulgence" while he read a statement "concerning my future, which has been speculated on for some time."

"When a job begins to lose its challenge and becomes routine, then before long boredom sets in and you lose the cutting edge," Nestande said. "I sense that beginning to occur and want to leave before the challenge is lost."

"I am going to be a father again, and I have no desire to raise a second family in a political environment," said Nestande, who remarried after his first marriage ended in divorce. "In addition, next week I'll be 49, which is a good time to commence a private sector career.

"During the past six years, I have accomplished my major goals as a member of the board. Therefore, it's now time to make a career change."

Questions on Landfills

According to persons interviewed by Orange County district attorney investigators and the FBI, authorities have been inquiring about Nestande's behind-the-scenes support for R.E. Wolfe Enterprises of Orange County. That firm was organized by R.E. Wolfe, a Kansas City contractor, and Moriarty in an effort to win a contract to operate landfills in Orange County.

Sources said that numerous executives of the Irvine Co., some familiar with the county's landfill operations, have appeared before a federal grand jury in Los Angeles to testify. Also, county employees, some of them knowledgeable about county landfills, have appeared before the grand jury, the sources added.

Jerry Collins, director of media relations for the Irvine Co., said the firm could not comment on questions about the grand jury.

"This is what we have been advised by our counsel," Collins said.

Proposals to turn over the county's landfill operations to private firms have been before the Orange County Board of Supervisors for several years. Although it was hotly debated, the idea of using private operators finally was scuttled by the board.

At one point, the Irvine Co., which owns the land on which three county landfills are located, was a proponent of private ownership of the landfills. A proposal under which the Irvine Co. would have taken over a majority of the county landfill operations triggered fears of a monopoly and higher trash rates.

Wolfe Probably Not Called

One source familiar with the investigation said he does not believe Wolfe has been called before the grand jury.

"I think he would have told me if he had been there," said the source, who agreed to talk if his name was not used. He said the district attorney's office and the FBI have been investigating Nestande for some time.

Wolfe was not available for comment Wednesday.

Since state and federal officials began investigating Moriarty's political and banking activities in 1983, Moriarty and 11 others, including five city councilmen, have been convicted of mail fraud stemming from a variety of charges.

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