10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Cassie MacDuff

Now that former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus has pleaded guilty and promised to tell all he knows, will the rest of the defendants in the public-corruption cases tumble like a house of cards?

Will his five unindicted co-conspirators be charged?

Will the county recover the $102 million settlement that Postmus and two of his peers on the Board of Supervisors in 2006 voted to give a wealthy developer?

Will Postmus confess to an alleged “pay-to-play scheme involving… land deals and assistance with planning and assessment issues”?

There are a lot of “ifs” in these scenarios, not least how long it will take prosecutors to pull together the remaining loose ends and charge any other suspects in the case. And the prosecutors aren’t talking.

Postmus’ lawyer, Stephen Levine, said when a key witness like Postmus agrees to cooperate, it can have the effect of a house of cards.

That wasn’t the case when former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman pled guilty: The investigation continues and Aleman still hasn’t been sentenced nearly two years later, Levine said.

Aleman was a key witness against one of the six defendants, then-Rancho Cucamonga councilman Rex Gutierrez. (Gutierrez was convicted and sentenced in December to two years, eight months in prison.)

Gutierrez’s defense attacked Aleman’s credibility as a witness, saying he was testifying to save himself.

Postmus could face a similar effort to impeach him as a witness. And defense lawyers will have even more ammunition: his drug abuse.

Levine said overcoming drug addiction actually gave Postmus the “moment of clarity” that persuaded him to plead guilty and become a witness for the prosecution.

That, and his dwindling finances, of course.

I asked Levine if Postmus will testify about everything alleged in the indictments. He said Postmus can only testify to what he knows.

I asked him if Postmus will cooperate in the civil cases: San Bernardino County sued him and the five other corruption defendants, and it sued Upland, Caltrans and SANBAG for part of the $102 million settlement with developer Colonies Partners.

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