Saturday, October 30, 2010 – 1030 p.m.

Did Fridays preliminary hearing involving former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus and Taxpayer Advocate Gregory Eyler really take an unexpected turn?

Well according to people in the courtroom, maybe not.

District Attorney staff entering the courtroom before the hearing reportedly looked unhappy and stressed. Something you wouldn’t expect after securing a high-profile conviction just two days earlier.

Smiles should have been in order.

Senior District Attorney Investigator Hollis “Bud” Randles spent roughly four and one-half hours on the witness stand being cross-examined by defense attorneys over the District Attorneys public integrity units handling of key witness Adam Aleman.

Aleman, a former assistant assessor and convicted felon is at the core of the prosecutions cases against Postmus, Eyler, and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin.

Aleman has plead no-contest to four felony counts related to falsifying evidence and lying to a county grand jury. He is cooperating with county and state prosecutors in an effort to gain a lighter misdemeanor sentence.

However, what has now come into question is the District Attorney’s handling of various aspects of the investigation.

Some issues arising in Fridays hearing include;

In the afternoon, during what ended up being approximately twenty minutes of legal wrangling between Judge Michael Smith and attorneys for both sides, the proceedings became so heated that Smith had to tell Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope to sit down more than once. Cope actually walked up to Randles while he was on the witness stand and started whispering in his ear.

The heated dislogue was over a line of questioning which exposed the first evidence of investigatory and prosecutorial misconduct.

Defense Attorney Stephen Levine forced an admission by Randles that Aleman, acting as an agent of the District Attorney, wore an electronic recording device for the purpose of taping Postmus after he was already represented by legal counsel. After numerous objections to questions from Levine by Cope, Smith ordered Randles to answer questions related to the Aleman recordings. Recordings which have not been turned over to the counsel for any of the defendants.

Smith indicated such actions may be misconduct and could result in the dismissal of some or all of the charges. The judge ordered all evidence related to the secret recordings be produced on Monday morning.

Under cross-examination by Eyler defense attorney Stanley Hodge, Randles also conceded he had basically embellished his testimony to increase its impact on the court, while he was under direct examination by Cope.

Hodge went even further and started asking a series of questions of Randles to lay the foundation for a federal civil rights action

Courtroom discussion regarding grand jury testimony, to be officially released on Monday, indicates Postmus was charged with felony perjury for what prosecutors alleged was for failing to disclose on his statement of economic interest a $12,000 check he received from business partner John Defazio.

However, the check recovered by investigators was un-cashed and made payable to Postmus’ father, William K. Postmus. A charge was still filed nevertheless.

During questioning regarding one of Postmus’ charges of grand theft for allegedly failing to properly reimburse the county for air fare to a political event in Texas, Randles indicated the full amount wasn’t reimbursed. When asked by Levine as to how much money wasn’t reimbursed? Randles said “ten cents.” At this point Levine took a dime from his trouser pocket and slid it across the table to Cope.

Snickering and chuckling in the courtroom was in order.

Postmus and Eyler are charged with several felony counts related to alleged malfeasance during Postmus’ tenure as county assessor.

Other witnesses to be heard include Assistant County Human Resources Director Bob Windle.

The hearing is scheduled to resume Monday morning with Randles back on the witness stand.