10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, March 30, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

State and local prosecutors will meet again with San Bernardino County Counsel Ruth Stringer next week to discuss the possible release of documents in the Colonies Partners legal settlement.

San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney James Hackleman described a two-hour meeting Monday between himself, Stringer and California Senior Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons as “productive.”

“Overall, both the attorney general’s office and our office were encouraged we might be able to reach an agreement that might make the information available to us,” Hackleman said.

The three will meet again Monday.

Prosecutors from the state and DA’s office have asked the county Board of Supervisors to waive its attorney-client privilege in the $102 million settlement with the Rancho Cucamonga developer in 2006.

They have asked for access to legal documents and attorneys hired by the county as part of their investigation, alleging that the settlement was part of an illegal conspiracy involving extortion and $400,000 in bribes.

Supervisors met in closed session last week to discuss the request to waive its privilege but made no decision, directing Stringer to meet with prosecutors.

County officials said they wanted to work with prosecutors but were constrained by their agreement with Colonies and how waiving that privilege may affect ongoing litigation.

Stringer said last week she would report back to the board after the discussion with prosecutors. No date has been set for when the board could discuss the matter next, although the next regularly scheduled meeting is April 13.

Last month, prosecutors filed bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges against Bill Postmus, former assessor and supervisor, and Jim Erwin, former assistant assessor and former chief of staff to Supervisor Neil Derry, accusing them of being part of the scheme to arrange the Colonies deal.

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