Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Created: 10/17/2011 02:10:43 PM PDT

Jim Erwin
The attorney defending former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin in a sweeping corruption probe is alleging that an FBI search of Erwin’s home was flawed and that Erwin’s civil rights were violated.

A motion filed by attorney Rajan Maline in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Oct. 11 is the second to be filed in the last three weeks challenging the strength of the Sept. 15 FBI raid in connection with an investigation into the county’s $102 million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006.

On Oct. 3, attorney Stephen Larson, who represents Colonies’ co-managing partner Jeff Burum, filed a motion with the court alleging Burum’s civil rights were violated and FBI agents essentially lied to him and in an official court document, tainting the search altogether.

Federal prosecutors dispute Larson’s claims. They argue in a motion filed in response to Larson’s that the search was conducted above-board and that an error in a court document was a mere oversight and unintentional.

Erwin, Burum, former county Supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt, face criminal charges in a joint prosecution by the state Attorney General’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office.

State and county prosecutors allege the four conspired to steer the landmark settlement in Colonies’ favor in exchange for bribes and political favors.

The settlement ended nearly five years of legal battle over flood-control improvements at Colonies’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

All four defendants deny any wrongdoing.

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