Scales of Justice

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/14/2012 07:06:15 PM PST

The attorney for a Rancho Cucamonga land developer charged in a sweeping San Bernardino County corruption case said Friday he will oppose a push by prosecutors to have the state Supreme Court reinstate bribery charges against his client.

“We are very opposed to the state’s strategy of delay,” said Stephen Larson, who represents developer Jeff Burum. “There are critical issues involving the statute of limitations and evidentiary and other problems with the grand jury indictment that need to be addressed in the trial court.”

Burum is accused of conspiring with three former county officials to secure a $102million legal settlement from the county in exchange for bribes. Also charged are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

All four defendants deny any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors allege Burum and Erwin used strong-arm tactics such as extortion, threats and bribes to persuade the county officials to approve the landmark settlement with Burum’s investor group, Colonies Partners LP, in November 2006.

The settlement ended a four-year legal battle over who was responsible for construction of a flood-control basin on Colonies’ 434-acre parcel in Upland where the investor group was bankrolling a sprawling residential and commercial development.

On Monday, the state Attorney General’s Office, which is jointly prosecuting the case with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, sent the petition to the state’s highest court via an overnight courier.

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