California Supreme Court

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/19/2013 11:31:16 PM PDT

A defense attorney, in a motion filed with the state Supreme Court, alleges that state and San Bernardino County prosecutors are asking the high court to overturn a century of established case law and reinstate bribery charges against Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum.

Burum’s attorney, Stephen Larson, argues in his motion filed Monday that even if the high court sides with prosecutors in their request and new precedent is set on how bribery laws can be applied, it cannot be applied retroactively to Burum.

“Even if this court overturned this long-standing precedent, due process precludes the ex post facto application of such a new and unexpected interpretation of the law to Mr. Burum,” Larson wrote in his brief.

Burum and three former county officials were indicted in May 2011 in connection with a sweeping corruption scandal involving the county’s $102 million settlement with Burum’s investor group, Colonies Partners LP, in November 2006. Prosecutors with the District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices allege Burum conspired with former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, former county Supervisor Paul Biane, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt, to influence a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors approving the landmark settlement with Colonies Partners. The settlement ended nearly four years of heated legal battle over flood-control improvements at a 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland bankrolled by Colonies Partners.

Biane, Ovitt and then-Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus voted in favor of the settlement, which no county attorney or outside counsel ratified. Supervisor Josie Gonzales and then-Supervisor Dennis Hansberger dissented.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Postmus pleaded guilty in March 2011 to 15 felonies stemming from the Colonies case and a companion corruption case in which he admitted to using his elected position as county assessor for political gain. He also admitted to taking a $100,000 bribe from Burum in exchange for his vote approving the Colonies settlement.

Postmus has agreed to testify against the four defendants in exchange for leniency.

All four defendants deny any wrongdoing.

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