10:00 PM PDT on Friday, May 20, 2011

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge dismissed the original criminal charges against former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin on Friday, allowing prosecutors to proceed with a new Grand Jury indictment.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope said the action was a formality allowed under state law so that prosecutors can streamline all the cases into one proceeding.

Erwin was arrested last week after a Grand Jury returned a 29-count indictment charging him, Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, former Supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt, with multiple felonies, including bribery and conspiracy.

Erwin was first arrested in March 2009 on charges relating to allegations he failed to report gifts from Burum. In February 2010 he was arrested again when the case expanded to the bribery charges involving a $102 million settlement in November 2006 with Burum’s company, Colonies Partners.

The new indictment includes many of the same charges and two new charges of tax fraud.

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