10:48 PM PDT on Monday, August 29, 2011
BY IMRAN GHORI
Special Section: San Bernardino Co. Corruption Probe
Defendants in a San Bernardino County corruption case are asking a judge to ease bail restrictions requiring them to wear electronic ankle bracelets monitoring their whereabouts.
Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, former assistant assessor Jim Erwin, former supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt, will return to court Wednesday morning for a status hearing on the case.
They are accused of taking part in a scheme to net Burum’s company, Colonies Partners, a $102 million legal settlement. They face conspiracy and bribery related charges, and all have pleaded not guilty.
Attorneys for Burum and Erwin both have filed motions asking that their clients be allowed to remove the ankle bracelets and no longer be restricted from traveling outside Southern California.
Burum’s attorney Stephen Larson argued in court documents that “any justification for the imposition of these onerous restrictions has been eviscerated” by the Aug. 19 dismissal of five of the seven charges against Burum.
Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville agreed with defense attorneys at that hearing that those charges against Burum — and one charge each against the other three defendants — could not apply to the offenses they are alleged to have committed.
McCarville imposed the ankle monitor and travel restrictions on all four defendants after their arrests in May as part of a condition agreeing to reduce their bail.
The defendants will appear before a different judge Wednesday because McCarville transferred the case to Judge Michael Smith at the last hearing. McCarville was in the criminal division when the case was first filed but recently moved to civil court.
Larson stated the bail conditions sought by prosecutors are “punitive” and restrict Burum’s personal freedom.
Burum is unable to exercise on his treadmill or exercise bike or play racquetball because doing so causes the ankle bracelet to chafe his skin, Larson said. It also effectively places Burum under house arrest two hours every day because of the time it takes to charge the monitor battery, he said.
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