Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 08/12/2010 07:24:40 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus was arrested Thursday in Superior Court on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs.
Postmus, 39, and his former taxpayer advocate Gregory Eyler, 34, were scheduled for a preliminary hearing on multiple felony charges that arose from investigations into political malfeasance and timecard fraud at the Assessor’s Office in 2008 including grand theft, public officer crimes and drug possession.
A bailiff noticed that Postmus exhibited signs of being under the influence, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller said.
Judge Michael Dest postponed the preliminary hearing until Sept. 23 so defense attorneys had time to review new evidence presented by prosecutors Wednesday: a recorded interview with key witness Adam Aleman, the former assistant assessor who served as Postmus’ second-in-command during Postmus’ short-lived stint as assessor.
The bailiff escorted Postmus and his attorney to a back room following the hearing, where a sheriff’s deputy conducted a field sobriety test on Postmus, Miller said.
Postmus was subsequently arrested and booked into West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. He was cited and released from custody at 4:08 p.m., sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said.
Deputies drew blood from Postmus at the jail, which will be used to run a toxicology test to determine if he was under the influence, Bachman said.
Thursday marked his third in the past 17 months and his third alleged drug offense. He has admitted to an addiction to methamphetamine since 2006 and has undergone three stints at drug rehabilitation centers since 2007.
In February, district attorney investigators arrested Postmus and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, charging them with multiple felony counts in a corruption probe relating to the county’s November 2006 settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP. Prosecutors allege the settlement was tainted by bribery and extortion.
At the time of his arrest in February, Postmus was found in possession of methamphetamine and subsequently charged with drug possession.
In January 2009, Postmus was arrested and subsequently charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, which was found at his Rancho Cucamonga townhome during a search by district attorney investigators for information relating to the Assessor’s Office investigation.
In April 2009, Postmus announced he was checking himself into the upscale Alta Mira drug rehabilitation center in Sausalito, where he said he spent about $50,000 for about 60 days of extensive in-patient treatment. In 2007, he underwent treatment at rehabilitation centers in Yakima, Wash., and in Lucerne Valley.
Postmus’ attorney Stephen Levine was surprised that investigators from the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, which is prosecuting Postmus, Eyler and other former county officials, went to such lengths Thursday to have Postmus arrested for something that qualifies as a misdemeanor offense.
“They have a personal axe to grind,” said Levine. “A person’s minor personal failings have nothing to do with the public integrity unit, so why do they have four deputies in court saying he’s under the influence?”
He said he was even more surprised that district attorney investigators sat in the parking lot all day guarding Postmus’ white Toyota Highlander until more investigators arrived with a search warrant, allowing them to gain access to the vehicle and search for contraband.
“It’s only going to besmirch his (Postmus’) reputation even more in the court of public opinion,” said Levine. “Only one thing comes to mind: selective prosecution.”
Postmus could not be reached for comment.
As to the new evidence prosecutors presented to Levine and Eyler’s attorney Stanley Hodge on Wednesday, Levine said the three-page synopsis of the interview between Aleman and district attorney investigator Hollis “Bud” Randles was unclear. So, he has requested a transcript of the interview and an audio recording.
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