June 24, 2010 1:45 PM
Natasha Lindstrom

SAN BERNARDINO • As arguments wrap up in the first jury trial in a far-reaching county corruption probe, a judge on Thursday dropped one of four felony counts against an executive staff member of former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus.

Defendant Rex Gutierrez, also a Rancho Cucamonga councilman, is accused of defrauding taxpayers by working on personal or Rancho Cucamonga matters on county time and falsifying time cards, during his service as intergovernmental relations officer under Postmus.

Gutierrez, 50, had faced two counts of grand theft, filing a fraudulent claim and embezzlement/misuse of public funds by a public official.

But on Thursday morning Gutierrez’s attorney Jim Reiss filed a motion to dismiss the count of misuse of public funds by a public official. He argued because Gutierrez did not have the legal authority to approve time cards, he did not fit the state’s definition of a public official with control over public funds.

Judge Duke Rouse agreed.

“He clearly does not have the power to approve his own timecards,” Rouse said. “His job had nothing to do with collection, retention or disbursement of public money.”

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