12:08 AM PDT on Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus told one of his managers that he didn’t care that members of his executive staff often missed work, a district attorney’s investigator testified Friday.

Career employees at the assessor’s office were starting to notice that some members of Postmus’ executive staff did little assessor-related work and relayed those concerns to their manager, Jim Erwin, a former assistant assessor, said Hollis “Bud” Randles, a senior investigator.

Erwin told Randles that Postmus took no action against them, he said.

While testifying during the second day of a preliminary hearing to determine whether Postmus, 39, and Greg Eyler, 34, should face trial on corruption charges, Randles recounted details of interviews with former assessor’s office employees.

Postmus is charged with four counts of misappropriation of public funds, one count of perjury, two counts of grand theft, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia for unlawful use.

Eyler, a former taxpayer’s advocate in the assessor’s office, is charged with one count of grand theft and one count of misappropriation of public funds.

He and Postmus have pleaded not guilty.

Erwin faces charges in a separate case.

Before taking office as assessor in January 2007, Postmus — while he was still chairman of the Board of Supervisors — pushed through an increase in the assessor’s office budget, creating an executive staff of 13 employees, Randles said.

The purpose of that staff was to “have political operatives and allies in order to control political power in San Bernardino County,” Randles said, relaying an interview with Adam Aleman, a former assistant assessor. Aleman also is facing charges but is cooperating with prosecutors.

Aleman told Randles that Postmus would not allow him to discipline Eyler or Rex Gutierrez, a former intergovernmental relations officer, for poor work habits, the investigator testified.

Gutierrez is on trial separately on charges of grand theft, conspiracy and filing a false claim.

When Aleman confronted Postmus with complaints about Eyler’s attendance and work product, Aleman was told they had a special arrangement and to “back off from Greg,” Randles said.

He had previously testified that Eyler and Postmus had a sexual relationship.

Aleman was ordered by Postmus to approve false time cards for both Gutierrez and Eyler, Randles said.

During his cross-examination, Postmus’ attorney, Stephen Levine, attempted to poke holes in the prosecution’s case that credit card expenses Postmus charged to the county were unwarranted.

He noted that a $1,324.20 charge for airfare for Postmus and a political consultant to travel to a Republican conference in Austin, Texas, was made by Postmus’ secretary.

“That appears to be a transparent transaction, doesn’t it?” Levine said.

He noted that Postmus and the associate later reimbursed the county. Randles agreed that they had — a year later, when the assessor’s office was under investigation.

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