Biane aide recorded talks in Postmus investigation
November 01, 2010 6:25 PM
Natasha Lindstrom

SAN BERNARDINO • New revelations that district attorney’s investigators wired two county workers to secretly record conversations with embattled former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus have defense attorneys questioning the prosecution’s methods.

The District Attorney’s office provided Matt Brown, former chief of staff to 2nd District Supervisor Paul Biane, with a digital recorder to track conversations with Postmus from November 2009 to January 2010, Senior Investigator Hollis D. Randles testified Monday in San Bernardino court.

Brown’s role in aiding investigators surfaced on the fourth day of the preliminary hearing for Postmus and former Assessor’s office taxpayer advocate Greg Eyler.

The two men face several felony charges for allegedly conspiring to run political operations out of the Assessor’s office and do little to no county work on the taxpayer dime.

On Friday, Randles revealed that former assistant assessor Adam Aleman — the prosecution’s key informant — had been wired to record conversations with Postmus to gather information for investigators.

Randles initially recalled that Aleman recorded such conversations from November 2008 through February 2010, but he clarified Monday that the last of such secretly recorded chats was in May 2009.

The defendants’ attorneys have expressed concerns over the secret recordings, which they say they weren’t included in their initial evidence packets. They received the specific dates and copies of the audio by Monday.

Stephen Levine, Postmus’ attorney, has said the recordings could result in a judge agreeing to “throw the whole case out” on civil rights violations.

He pointed out in court that Postmus had hired a lawyer by the time of some of these recordings were made.

“You just can’t have an agent of the government taping a person who has already been arraigned and has counsel,” Levine said after Monday’s hearing.

“The government is not playing fair, I think, on this case. I clearly have to say this is a political prosecution.”

Agitated by what he called “super secret interviews” and convinced that “so much is being hidden from the defense,” Stan Hodge, Eyler’s attorney, announced to Judge Michael Smith his intention to file a written motion to recuse the District Attorney’s office from the case.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope has said the investigation has been “good” and “appropriate” and that he would address any such motions by the defense at a later date.

Aleman began secretly recording Postmus seven months before he took a plea bargain that promised to reduce Aleman’s own felony perjury charges to misdemeanors if he cooperated with investigators.

The second informant, Brown, was recently promoted to county assistant auditor-controller recorder. His appointment comes shortly after the county gave him two months paid leave and then paid him $25,000 to settle a hostile workplace claim he filed against the county.

Brown had argued he was being harassed for aiding investigators in their corruption probe.

Also on Monday, defense attorneys were surprised to hear Randles testify that Postmus told Aleman he had plans to “launder” his investment profits through a Victorville real estate company, campaign funds and his father, Bill Postmus Sr.

“I’ve read every page of this discovery and I’ve never seen the word ‘launder,'” Stan Hodge, Eyler’s attorney, said during court.

Randles later clarified that “launder” was his own term; Aleman had instead used the word “funnel” when referring to Postmus’ profits.

The hearing is scheduled to resume 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. At its conclusion, Judge Michael Smith will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to proceed with a jury trial.