Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/29/2010 06:29:35 PM PST

Former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, charged with multiple felonies in connection with two county corruption scandals, has filed for bankruptcy.

Erwin, 48, of Highland, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside on Nov. 4. In the last 18 months, he has been arrested twice and has corralled a legal team composed of two criminal defense attorneys, one civil case attorney and one appellate attorney. He paid a total of $60,000 to post bond on bails totaling $600,000 for each of his arrests.

Now, Erwin says he’s tapped out.

“I don’t have any money anymore,” Erwin said Monday in a telephone interview.

He said he will keep his two Riverside-based criminal defense attorneys, Rajan R. Maline and Steve L. Harmon, at least throughout the pre-trial process of his two criminal cases.

“I paid my retainers for Harmon and Maline, so they’re on for a while, at least through the preliminary hearing,” Erwin said.

He said he has spent “tens of thousands of dollars” in legal fees in the last 18 months and has exhausted all his savings. He said he is not eligible to receive his pension from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department until he’s 50. He is a former sheriff’s deputy.

Erwin lists on his bankruptcy filing documents 20 creditors, including the county of San Bernardino, the law offices of Alan Mohill, and the San Bernardino County Public Attorney’s Association.

Mohill is representing Erwin in a civil suit filed by the county against Erwin, former county Assessor Bill Postmus and other former executive officials of the office for allegedly defrauding the public out of tens of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors allege the former assessor’s officials ran a political operation out of the office at taxpayer expense.

Erwin said the county has stayed its civil case against him because of his bankruptcy filing.

County spokesman David Wert could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Erwin said he owes Mohill about $18,000 in legal fees, and plans to pay him every cent of the money.

“I’m going to carry him through. I told him I’d pay him no matter what,” Erwin said.

Erwin has countersued the county, alleging it violated a signed 2007 severance agreement when he resigned from the Assessor’s Office. It stipulated that neither Erwin nor the county would sue one another as part of the settlement. Mohill is representing Erwin in that case as well.

Erwin is the former president of the most powerful labor union in the county, the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association. He was serving as Supervisor Neil Derry’s chief of staff when he was first arrested in March 2009 for failing to report about $15,000 worth of gifts from Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum on his statement of economic interest forms.

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