Jim Brulte

By Wendy Leung Staff Writer
Created: 09/16/2011 06:38:51 PM PDT

Among those targeted by the FBI and IRS on Thursday was one of most prominent political figures of the Inland Empire.

Jim Brulte, 55, who served in the state Legislature for 14 years and currently runs an influential consulting firm, was served with a search warrant by federal agents seeking evidence across two counties. Brulte’s home in Fontana and his business California Strategies were among the nine sites raided.

The investigation appears to be linked to a widespread corruption probe concerning a
Jim Brulte
$102 million settlement between Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP and San Bernardino County.

Brulte has not been charged by the District Attorney’s office. He was a witness who provided testimony to a Grand Jury that eventually handed indictments to Colonies developer Jeff Burum, former Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin and a former chief of staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

As a former lawmaker with widespread and important connections, Brulte was hired by Burum to help with settlement talks concerning the Upland property.

According to a search warrant directed at Erwin in 2009, a confidential informant told DA investigators that Colonies Partners promised to give Brulte and
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Erwin 1 percent of the $102 million settlement.

In a 2009 interview, Brulte denied that he was ever promised that 1 percent. Brulte and his spokesman did not return multiple calls on Friday seeking comment.

As a consultant who worked for both the county and Colonies Partners, Brulte played a key role in how the landmark deal was finalized.

Brulte was Burum’s consultant from December 2004 to March 2005. He was also the one who introduced Burum to former county Supervisor
Special Report: Scandal on the Fifth Floor, San Bernardino County Watch
Bill Postmus, one of three supervisors who would eventually back the Colonies settlement.

According to his testimony to the Grand Jury, Brulte had suggested to Burum to have Colonies attorneys debate the case with the county’s attorneys. That discussion involved Colonies co-partner Dan Richards, Postmus, Biane, Burum, Brulte and attorneys from both sides. The lawyers were eventually kicked out of the discussion and a tentative agreement of $77 million was reached.

Brulte was also present on a couple of trips to China, one in which Postmus was courted by Burum on a series of trips to restaurants, karaoke bars and massage parlors. As part of a plea bargain, Postmus told investigators that Burum gave him cash, gifts and other favors in exchange for support on the settlement.

In Grand Jury testimonies, Brulte said he doesn’t recall if the Colonies settlement was brought up in China.

Burum maintains his innocence. His attorneys accuse Postmus of not being a reliable witness.

In a separate trip to China, Brulte met Supervisor Josie Gonzales in a hotel lobby weeks before the final settlement was reached. Gonzales was one of two supervisors who voted against the deal.

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