By Mike Cruz Staff Writer
Created: 05/12/2011 07:29:44 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The four defendants facing charges in the investigation over the $102 million Colonies settlement were in protective custody while in county jail to ensure their safety and help jail personnel maintain effective control in the Central Detention Center, sheriff’s officials said.

The defendants – Jeffrey Burum, Paul Biane, James Erwin and Mark Kirk – were arrested Tuesday morning after the San Bernardino County Grand Jury filed a 29-count indictment against the foursome and were then booked into the county jail facility.

The four men are accused of having roles in the allegedly fraudulent settlement of the county’s lawsuit with developer Colonies Partners LP, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

In court, the defendants were seen wearing a jail-issued green jumpsuit, signifying they are in protective custody.

Sheriff’s officials say the booking process is where the decision on housing placement occurs. As each person is booked into the jail, housing review officers ask a series of questions as part of a classification process that will help determine where they should be housed.

“Based on the information that they provide, that’s how we determine where they should be housed within the facility,” explained Cindy Bachman, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

For example, because Erwin is a former law enforcement officer, jail housing officers determined he would be safest in a single-man cell in protective custody, or Administrative Segregation at the jail, Bachman said.

“In his career at some point, he arrested people, and he could possibly run into someone that he arrested,” Bachman said. The other defendants – Burum, Biane and Kirk – were housed in a similar way because of their status in the community.

Bachman reiterated the housing placement isn’t just for the inmate’s safety, but to also maintain control of the facility and prevent fights.

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