San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos announces the indictment of Paul Biane, former of the Board of supervisors, Mark Kirk, former Chief of Staff for Board member Gary Ovitt, James Erwin, former Chief of Staff for Board member Neil Derry and Jeffrey Burum, General Partner of Colonies Partners, L.P., by the criminal Grand Jury during a press conference at the District Attorneys office on Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Al Cuizon/Staff Photographer (Sun file photo)

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/27/2011 12:07:51 PM PDT

REPORTS FROM COURT: Get updates as they happen. Follow @SBcourts to keep up with the latest developments

Alleging a conflict of interest exists, the attorney for Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum wants the district attorney recused from prosecuting his client.

The alleged conflict stems from conversations the pair had before conspiracy charges were filed against Burum, said attorney Stephen Larson.

Larson also said Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court that District Attorney Michael A. Ramos had appointed Burum to his advisory committee.

The relationship between the pair, says Larson, results in a conflict for Ramos in the prosecution of Burum.

“It’s a very serious issue that we want to explore,” Larson told Judge Michael A. Smith during proceedings in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Many conversations occurred between the developer and district attorney, some of them about this case, according to the defense.

Prosecutors were ordered to turn over some of the documents Larson has sought in his bid to show that such a conflict exists.

“The judge granted our motion to compel District Attorney Mike Ramos to produce information showing potential conflicts of interest by Ramos in his prosecution of Jeff Burum,” the developer’s spokesman, Ric Grenell, said later, by telephone.

Larson told Judge Smith he’s prepared to file a motion of conflict of interest.

This is not the first time the issue has been raised in this case. But prosecutors say no conflict exists.

“I don’t expect them to drop this issue,” Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope told the court. “Nor do I want them to drop this issue.”

Burum and three county figures – former Supervisor Paul Biane; Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt; and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin – face conspiracy and fraud charges in connection with the county’s landmark $102 million settlement with Colonies Partners LP in 2006.

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