Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Created: 09/17/2010 10:56:27 AM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – Attorneys on Friday said they are ready to proceed in the second trial of Rancho Cucamonga City Councilman Rex Gutierrez, who stands accused of conspiracy and grand theft in relation to his former job at the county assessor’s office.
“We’re ready, and they’re ready,” said prosecutor John Goritz following the brief hearing in San Bernardino Cuperior Court Friday.
Attorneys will return to court next Thursday to discuss how long the trial is expected to last and to have a date assigned to begin jury selection.
Gutierrez, 50, is one of five former Assessor’s Office executives charged in a scandal that rocked the office in 2008. Prosecutors allege former Assessor Bill Postmus, upon taking office, hired friends and political allies to run a political operation at taxpayer expense.
Prosecutors allege Gutierrez’s hiring at the Assessor’s Office was a quid pro quo of political favors, and that Gutierrez conspired with Postmus, former assistant assessor Adam Aleman and Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum to secure a cushy job in the office so he could do work as a Councilman at county taxpayer expense.
Attorneys for the defendants and Burum deny the allegations, and argue that the prosecutions’s case hinges mainly on key witness Adam Aleman, who they maintain is a convicted perjurer whose information cannot be trusted.
On June 30, 2009, Aleman, 27, pleaded no contest to four felony counts: vandalism over $400, two counts of tampering with public documents
and one count of making a fraudulent claim. Under a plea bargain with prosecutors, Aleman’s felonies will be reduced to misdemeanors if he testifies truthfully at trial and cooperates in the ongoing corruption probe.
According to Gutierrez’s 10-page criminal complaint, Burum, who is a co-managing partner of Rancho Cucamonga-based Colonies Partners LP and Diversified Pacific Development Group, was a political contributor to both Potmus and Gutierrez. He relied on their aid to assist him in his business dealings in the county and in Rancho Cucamonga, and Potmus and Gutierrez relied on Burum’s financial support to their campaigns.
Gutierrez’s first trial, in which he was accused of grand theft and filing a false claim, ended in a hung jury. In August, prosecutors amended their complaint to include a charge of conspiracy to commit a crime, which listed 26 overt acts.
The overt acts alleged, among other things, that Postmus hired Gutierrez at the highest salary possible as a favor to Burum, that Gutierrez carried out duties mainly in his capacity as a Councilman while on county time, and that Gutierrez told his co-workers that he really worked for Jeff Burum, not Bill Postmus.
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