“There really is no such thing as insider trading for real estate,” said Milsap. “It goes on in real estate all the time. That’s the benefit of local knowledge.”

Ryan Milsap, Adjunct Professor at USC School of Real Estate and Broker

 

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/14/2011 08:19:46 PM PST

Authorities looked hard at several land deals involving former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus during their investigation of the county’s $102 million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP, according to recently released search warrants.

The District Attorney’s Office, however, was unable to provide sufficient evidence to charge Postmus or his business partner, John Dino DeFazio, with any crimes. Postmus was the assessor at the time he and DeFazio acquired the six parcels through their company, Tri-Land Inc. between August and December 2007.

“I think the DA made the decision that there was no case and did not file in that regard,” said Postmus’ attorney, Stephen Levine. “And I tend to agree with them that there was no case.”

Prosecutor John Goritz with the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit declined to comment due to the ongoing criminal cases.

Postmus has pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from corruption cases in the Assessor’s Office and the Colonies settlement. He admitted to voting in favor of the settlement in exchange for a $100,000 bribe while chairman of the Board of Supervisors and has agreed to testify against a Rancho Cucamonga developer and three former county officials in exchange for reduced charges. All four defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

DeFazio is facing two felony counts of perjury for allegedly lying to the Grand Jury about control of a political action committee that received one of the alleged bribes in the Colonies case. He denies any wrongdoing and is fighting the charges.

Several things about the land acquisitions raised an eyebrow with district attorney’s investigators, mainly Postmus’ failure to disclose certain information about the acquisitions on public financial disclosure forms known as statements of economic interest, or form 700s.

Postmus and DeFazio formed Tri-Land Inc. in May 2007, and though Postmus disclosed on his Form 700 that he was a partner in the company, he was not listed as a principal officer on incorporation papers filed with the state, according to a March 2009 search warrant.

Former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman, a key witness in the corruption cases involving the Colonies settlement and the Assessor’s Office, told investigators that Tri-Land acquired the Adelanto parcels because Postmus had inside knowledge that the Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies was going to install large-scale infrastructure in the area, according to the search warrant.

Randall Lewis, executive vice president for the Lewis Group of Companies, said his family’s company purchased more than 1,000 acres of land in Adelanto in 2005 and 2006 for residential and commercial development. He said the High Desert was a mecca for real estate investors at the time, and it was no secret what his family’s company was doing, as well as other developers.

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