Gutierrez

Joe Nelson and Mike Cruz, Staff Writers
Posted: 06/30/2010 04:06:38 PM PDT

A mistrial has been declared in the trial of Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Rex Gutierrez.

The 11-woman, one-man jury voted 7-5 and 8-4 in favor of convictions on Gutierrez’s two felony charges of grand theft and 9-3 in favor of conviction on one felony count of filing a false claim.

Jurors began deliberations on Monday.

Gutierrez, 50, is accused of falsifying timesheets during his 22-month tenure of employment at the San Bernardino County Assessors Office from March 2007 through January 2009. He is one of five former executives at the office tied to a scandal that rocked the office in 2008. Authorities accuse former Assesor Bill Postmus of running a political operation and hiring Gutierrez as a favor to Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum.

Burum denies the allegations, and says he never reached out to Postmus to hire Gutierrez at the office.

“After two years of investigation, thousands of man-hours, and millions of dollars, the prosecutors presented their strongest case with the easiest charges – this outcome today raises serious doubts about the credibility and justification for this entire investigation,” said Burum’s spokesman, Richard Grenell, in a statement. “This whole investigation is a witchhunt – a politically-driven effort to look for far-fetched crimes of conspiracy that in truth never happened. It’s clear that the prosecutors claims have failed to materialize.”

Prosecutor John Goritz said he will retry the case.

“We remain confident in our case, and we look forward to the retrial,” Goritz said.

Defense attorney James Reiss said prosecutors put on a good fight – one that was “fought to the bitter end.”

“I think we’re going to fine tune our defense, and I’m sure they’re going to fine-tune their presentation,” Reiss said, adding that the Gutierrez case was different because of today’s political climate, with the economy being the way it is and the public approval rating for politicians below 20 percent statewide.

“I feel that’s a pretty big hurdle,” Reiss said.

He said the deadlock was a “big weight off Rex’s shoulder.”

“We’re going to see Rex through the end of this, and we feel we’ll be vindicated in the end,” Reiss said.

A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for July 7, when a new trial date will likely be set, Reiss said, adding that a new trial can commence as early as August.

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