Defense attorneys put focus on emails, role of supervisor’s aide
Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/25/2011 08:40:03 PM PDT

Defense attorneys for two Los Angeles-area businessmen accused of bribing a San Bernardino County official in 2008 to get past hurdles facing their Bloomington development focused much of their attention Monday on a stack of emails involving the recipient of the alleged bribe.

County planner Heidi Duron testified Monday about the emails and the unusual involvement of Bob Page, the former chief of staff for 5th District Supervisor Josie Gonzales, in the project proposed by campaign contributors Arshak Kouladjian and his brother Vartan.

Prosecutors have alleged the defendants bribed Page with $15,000 in cash in October 2007 and after a January 2008 lunch meeting to discuss delays facing the Slover Avenue commercial project. They further allege the defendants tried to bribe Page on Feb. 13, 2008, according to a criminal complaint filed in Superior Court.

Page reported the Kouladjians’ actions to authorities. The Kouladjians have denied the charges.

Duron was the first witness called in the trial, which began Thursday before Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino Superior Court.

The county required road improvements for the Bloomington project, as well as grading and drainage work, before it could be built. The entire project area was also in the habitat of the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly, an endangered species.

“Before they build, they would have to do those road improvements,” Duron testified.

The planner testified that the Kouladjians did not offer her money or do anything illegal that she was aware of to get their project approved. She also said Page never asked her to do anything improper or give unfair advantages.

The Kouladjians and their company, Pasadena- based AVH Holdings, sought help from Page with construction hurdles, according to an investigator in the District Attorney’s Office.

Defense attorneys Mark Geragos and Philip Cohen focused much attention Monday on Page’s role.

To read entire story, click here.