Judge rejects effort to get D.A. recused from Kouladjians’ bribery prosecution
Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/27/2011 06:03:50 PM PDT

The criminal charges filed this week against San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry could affect the trial of two Los Angeles-area businessmen accused of bribing the former chief of staff for Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Josie Gonzales.

Defense lawyers Mark Geragos and Philip Cohen, who represent the men on trial in San Bernardino Superior Court, asked Judge Michael Smith to delay the proceedings on Wednesday for an inquiry into what they called selective prosecution by District Attorney Michael A. Ramos.

Geragos compared the Derry case, in which the supervisor is accused of laundering a $5,000 campaign contribution through a political action committee, with the case against brothers Arshak and Vartan Kouladjian.

The judge denied the request. But Geragos said a written motion would be filed today in court.

“It doesn’t pass the smell test,” Geragos told the judge.

The Kouladjians are charged with bribing and attempting to bribe Gonzales’ former chief of staff, Bob Page, in 2007 and 2008 with $15,000 in cash for assistance with their Bloomington commercial development. The defendants also donated $35,000 over a three-year period to Gonzales’ campaign.

Trial testimony this week indicated that Page spent an unusual amount of time advocating for the development as it proceeded through the county Land Use Services Department.

Page was later transferred to the County Administration Office.

Derry was charged Tuesday by the state Attorney General’s Office. Ramos withdrew from prosecuting the Derry case, citing past differences with the defendant and to avoid the appearance of unfairness.

The judge said Wednesday that he saw no basis for recusing the District Attorney’s Office.

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