Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/05/2012 02:11:54 PM PST

San Bernardino County and its transportation planning agency are enmeshed in a legal challenge over whether the transportation agency should partially reimburse the county for a legal settlement with a land developer that prosecutors allege was corrupt.

In a motion filed last week in San Diego Superior Court, San Bernardino Associated Governments, or SanBAG, argued the $102 million legal settlement between the county Flood Control District and Rancho Cucamonga investor group Colonies Partners LP in November 2006 was the result of bribery, thereby rendering the settlement void and SanBAG off the hook for any damages.

“The San Bernardino County Flood Control District is seeking indemnity for a settlement agreement that is a flagrant violation of state conflict of interest laws governing public contracts,” according to the motion filed Oct. 31.

“The Flood Control District cannot maintain equitable causes of action against (SanBAG) based on an illegal and void settlement agreement.”

In a separate motion also filed last week, the county argued its lawsuit is not about whether the settlement is legally enforceable or whether a conflict of interest existed when it was approved, but whether the defendants should be held liable for a portion of the settlement payments the county has paid to Colonies Partners to settle “very real liabilities” for which the defendants were primarily responsible.

The county sued SanBAG, Caltrans and Upland in November 2004, seeking to recover any damages that could arise from the land-rights lawsuit Colonies’ co-managing partner and Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum filed against the county in March 2002.

Burum argued in his lawsuit that the county abandoned its crumbling flood control easements on a 434-acre spread where Colonies was building a residential and commercial development, and that the county was responsible for building a flood control basin that would protect residents of the Colonies development from a 100-year flood. The county argued Colonies was responsible for the flood control improvements.

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