District Attorney Mike Ramos / Attorney General Jerry Brown

.

Thursday, July 1, 2010 – 10:00 a.m.

Once thing is for certain.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos drawing Attorney General Jerry Brown into his crusade against his political enemies was a smart move.

Even though Defendant Jim Erwin pushed him into it.

After Ramos arrested Erwin in March 2009 regarding alleged disclosure violations, Erwin pummeled Ramos in local newspapers. Erwin accused Ramos of selective prosecution in retaliation for budget actions by his former boss, Supervisor Neil Derry, and Erwin’s knowledge of Ramos’ various affairs with employees in his own office. Damaging Erwin’s credibility was paramount.

Erwin demanded the Attorney General take his case from Ramos. As a result, Ramos talked Brown into partnering with him on the case. A decision that may cost Brown.

Ramos squeaked by in the June primary and narrowly avoided a run-off in November. Brown however, faces former Ebay chief executive Meg Whitman in November. Brown doesn’t have anywhere near the resources Whitman commands.

In other words, Brown will have a tough go of it this time, and he may lose.

Whitman is already pounding on Brown, who is relying on labor unions to defend him until he can spend his own money in late September. Whitman’s outside fundraising is even keeping pace with that of Brown.

The already reelected Ramos has stuck Brown with several cases involving defendants that aren’t backing down. The mistrial yesterday in the Rex Gutierrez case is a prime example.

Gutierrez is factually the best case among four pending for Ramos and Brown, and it didn’t go well.

The key witness in three of the four pending political corruption cases, former assistant assessor Adam Aleman, was discredited. Newspapers are reporting that almost all jurors in the Gutierrez trial didn’t believe Aleman.

Sources say Guitierrez’s defense attorney Jim Reiss had around twelve hours of material on Aleman, but elected to use roughly ten percent of it against him. I doubt he’ll hold back during the re-trial.

Let’s take a look at the pending cases.

People v Postmus / Eyler

Attorneys:

For the People: Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel

For the Defense: Stephen Levine (Postmus), Stanley Hodge (Eyler)

This case is also a result of alleged corruption in the assessor’s office. The charges against former Assessor employee Greg Eyler are essentially the same as against Gutierrez, absent the conspiracy angle. If prosecutors can’t convict Gutierrez of time card fraud they won’t be convicting Eyler, who was part-time salaried. The charges against former Assessor Bill Postmus involve such offenses as misuse of a computer wireless card. Yes. wireless card!

Both Postmus matters involve drug use charges that will likely be dismissed in accordance with Penal Code section 1000.

No guilty plea’s are likely in this case.

People v Defazio

Attorneys:

For the People: Deputy District Attorney John Goritz, Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel

For the Defense: Richard Ewanzyck

This case against developer and Postmus business partner John Defazio consists of two counts of perjury before the Grand Jury. Defazio was arrested a few days after he filed a civil claim against the county and Ramos. Also coinciding with Defazio’s arrest was Postmus’ refusal to meet with prosecutiors regarding developer Jeff Burum. The charges make reliance on Aleman and developers Mike Gallagher and Jeff Bentow. There are already contradictions with the witnesses and obviously Aleman is imploding.

Sources say Defazio’s attorney keeps asking prosecutor John Goritz when will he drop the charges?

People v Erwin / Postmus

Attorneys:

For the People: Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel

For the Defense: Richard Farquhar (Postmus), Steven Harmon and Rajan Maline (Erwin)

The case alleges corruption involving the settlement between the County of San Bernardino and Colonies Partners.

The major problem at the center of this case? Adam Aleman.

A string of affidavits, interviews, evidence, and testimony all involve Aleman. As a matter of fact Aleman is the central figure who launches the investigation. In other words everything flows from him. How he survives this case no one knows. Aleman’s plea deal requires truthful testimony to avoid jail time and a conviction reduced from four felonies to misdemeanors.

Both defendants here want to go to trial. The evidentiary challenges will be interesting to say the least.

Sources say the prosecution has yet to turn over any relevant evidence to defense attorneys in the case.

People v Miller

Attorneys;

For the People: Deputy District Attorney John Goritz

For the Defense: James Reiss

Jim Miller, a former Grand Terrace city councilman, is charged with a single county of violating Government Code section 1090, conflict of interest. Miller is accused of voting to approve the city check register. The registers in question reflected payments previously made to his wife’s newspaper. The payments made, were for city advertising that was contracted for by the city manager, without council approval or knowledge.

A check register??

This case is set for trial in August.

It’ll be interesting to see the same attorneys in the Gutierrez case face-off in this one.

_____________________________

Sources say prosecutors have been operating under the assumption all defendants would take plea deals. Instead, no defendant appears willing to do so.

It will be interesting to see if the Whitman campaign can resist that scripted Ramos / Brown press conference video. You know, the one where Brown said things like “righteous” prosecutions, or “possibly the biggest corruption case in California history”.

Now, for the first time, material is available to pair the press conference video with newspaper quotes from jurors in the Gutierrez case depicting the star witness in Brown’s big corruption case as a liar.

There will likely be more in the weeks to come. That’s weeks, not months.

This scenario gives Whitman a very effective example of Brown abusing his office for political gain.

Expect Brown to get smashed in the mouth with this one.

Make no mistake, prosecutors and investigators already knew of Aleman’s credibility issues before they filed charges, but they never-the-less went through with it anyways.

Insiders close to Brown say the career politician just couldn’t resist the free press opportunity of alleging a $102 million scandal.

A recent article at FoxNews.com used the term “lawfare” to describe Brown’s abuses.

Brown needs to thank Ramos for the great press and the bad cases. If Whitman’s lucky, the cases will keep blowing up on Brown between now and November.