06:51 AM PDT on Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BY IMRAN GHORI
STAFF WRITER
ighori@pe.com

Special Section: San Bernardino Co. Probe

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered prosecutors to turn over additional evidence to defendants in a corruption investigation, including information their attorneys claim will show that the district attorney has a conflict of interest.

Judge Michael Smith made the ruling during a court appearance by Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, former Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

The four face conspiracy and bribery-related charges over a $102 million settlement the county approved in November 2006 with Burum’s company, Colonies Partners, which prosecutors allege was a result of bribery and extortion.

The four defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Burum’s attorney, Stephen Larson, said while prosecutors have turned over some evidence to defense attorneys, they still have yet to receive many relevant documents.

Among them are some of the interviews with several figures including Bill Postmus, the former supervisor and assessor, and former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman. Both have pleaded guilty to criminal charges and are cooperating with prosecutors.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope said he believes prosecutors have turned over everything requested but will go back over the evidence to ensure that they have done so.

Larson also is seeking information to support his contention that District Attorney Mike Ramos has a conflict of interest in the case because he had appointed Burum to an advisory council in the past and received campaign contributions from him.

Larson said Ramos advised Burum to testify before a grand jury proceeding in 2009, telling him he was only a witness and not a target.

Smith denied some of the requests, describing them as overly broad or vague, but agreed to others, including one seeking any statements by Ramos to Burum regarding his grand jury testimony.

Cope called the request “an irrelevant fishing expedition” but Smith said he believed any such assurances made by prosecutors could be relevant.

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