BY IMRAN GHORI
STAFF WRITER
ighori@pe.com

Published: 24 October 2011 12:23 PM

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge ruled Monday that he will not prevent about 2,700 pages of grand jury testimony in a corruption case from being used in a related civil case.

Judge Douglas Elwell said the question of whether the documents, which were unsealed in July, can be used in another court case is a decision for the civil case judge.

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

The grand jury heard four weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses and in May returned a 29-count indictment on conspiracy and bribery-related charges against Burum, Biane, Erwin and Kirk. Prosecutors have alleged that a $102 million settlement the county approved in November 2006 with Burum’s company, Colonies Partners, was a result of bribery and extortion.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

In a separate civil case, the county is suing the San Bernardino Associated Governments, Upland and Caltrans, alleging they had a role in causing flood basin problems at Colonies’ Upland housing and commercial development that led the company to sue the county. That case is being heard in San Diego County Superior Court and is tentatively scheduled to go to trial next April.

Last month, San Bernardino County lawyers asked for clarification as to whether the grand jury transcript and related exhibits can be barred from the civil trial. The county waived attorney-client privilege and allowed its attorneys to speak to the grand jury with the belief that the testimony could not be used beyond the criminal case, lawyer Jerome Friedberg said last month.

As part of the civil case, the county is defending the Colonies settlement, but during the criminal grand jury testimony several of its attorneys testified that they opposed the deal.

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