Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/04/2011 07:01:59 PM PDT

Newly calculated numbers show that San Bernardino County’s debt for its landmark legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer The Colonies Partners LP will be $185 million by the time bonds reach maturity in 2037.

On a 3-2 vote, the Board of Supervisors approved the $102 million settlement, the largest in the county’s history, in November 2006 to end four years of heated legal battle with the developer over flood-control improvements at property in Upland.

The property ultimately became the Colonies Crossroads residential/commercial development adjacent the 210 Freeway.

In 2006, Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus, Supervisors Paul Biane and Gary Ovitt voted in favor of the settlement in 2006, while Supervisors Josie Gonzales and Dennis Hansberger dissented.

Now, state and local prosecutors say the settlement was tainted by bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

Postmus and Biane, no longer on the board, are suspected of conspiring with Colonies co-managing partners Jeffrey Burum and former assistant assessor Jim Erwin, among others, to steer a settlement in Colonies’ favor in exchange for political favors and cash bribes of at least $400,000.

All have denied any wrongdoing, and neither Burum nor Biane, identified as alleged co-conspirators, have been charged with any crimes.

On March 28, Postmus, as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, admitting he took bribes in exchange for shepherding the settlement.

He will cooperate with investigators and testify at the trials of other defendants in exchange for reduced charges.

Prosecutors say Postmus’ admission to conflict of interest charges may prompt further proceedings by the county in the civil courts seeking to void the settlement.

The Board of Supervisors today will discuss that matter, as well as its pending lawsuit against San Bernardino Associated Governments, the county’s transportation planning agency. The county is seeking to recoup some of the settlement costs from that agency.

In light of the Postmus plea, Sanbag has argued that the county should dismiss its lawsuit.

The county paid $22 million from its flood-control district’s reserve fund to Colonies after the settlement was approved.

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