Former county assessor, assistant Eyler charged with felonies
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/08/2010 08:30:53 PM PST

Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus and his former taxpayer advocate, Gregory Eyler, will stand trial on corruption charges, a San Bernardino Superior Court judge determined Monday.

Judge Michael A. Smith dropped one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of misappropriation of public funds against Postmus, citing insufficient evidence. He dropped one felony count of misappropriation of public funds against Eyler after determining Eyler was not an officer of the county nor authorized to disperse public funds at the time of the alleged crimes.

Smith did, however, determine prosecutors presented sufficient evidence in the preliminary hearing to hold Postmus to answer to one felony count of grand theft, three felony counts of misappropriation of public funds, one felony count of perjury, two felony counts of drug possession (methamphetamine and Ecstasy), and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Eyler was held to answer to one felony count of grand theft.

Postmus, 39, faces a maximum of nine years, six months in prison if convicted on all counts and Eyler, 34, faces a maximum of three years if convicted. They stand accused of participating in a conspiracy to use the Assessor’s Office for personal and political gain.

Postmus, prosecutors allege, took his elected office in January 2007 with the intent of hiring cronies and running a political operation at taxpayer expense.

Defense attorneys have challenged the tactics used by prosecutors in the case, including secret recordings of conversations between Postmus and two witnesses, former assistant assessor Adam Aleman and Matt Brown, former chief of staff for Supervisor Paul Biane and now the county’s assistant auditor, controller and recorder.

“The District Attorney’s office has shown with this case that it will do anything to secure a conviction,” Postmus said in a statement Monday. “By anything I mean illegal taping of me by District Attorney agents Aleman and Matt Brown in order to pressure me to lie on their behalf against the Colonies Partners, as did convicted perjurer Mr. Aleman.”

In a separate case, prosecutors have charged Postmus with conspiracy, bribery and other charges related to the county’s $102 million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga- based developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006. Prosecutors allege the settlement was tainted by bribery and extortion, allegations Postmus and Colonies’ co-managing partner Jeff Burum deny.

In his closing argument Monday, Postmus’ attorney, Stephen Levine, argued that prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence to charge Postmus with any crimes.

Smith granted Levine’s request to drop two grand theft charges against Postmus stemming from airplane tickets purchased on Postmus’ county-issued credit card so Postmus and his business partner could attend a political action committee’s convention in Texas.

Smith said that Postmus instructed his secretary to purchase the tickets on his county credit card, but the county was later reimbursed for the cost.

Prosecutor Lewis Cope argued that the reimbursement occurred only after Postmus became aware of a grand jury investigation.

“This was an effort to cover up what was initially meant to be a theft,” Cope said.

Cope argued that Postmus engaged in a pattern of conduct in which he felt he had “carte blanche” and was entitled to spend county money for personal use, including using his county-issued credit card to gas up Aleman’s personal vehicle for a vacation to Aspen, Colo.

Smith also granted a request by Eyler’s attorney, Stanley Hodge, to dismiss one charge of misappropriation of public funds. Hodge argued Eyler did not fit the definition of a public officer set forth in the Penal Code, nor was he responsible for dispersing public funds.

Following court proceedings, Levine said he plans to file a motion requesting all evidence of secret recordings in the prosecution’s possession.

He called the District Attorney’s Office corrupt.

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