gavel

By Joe Nelson, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 10/03/13, 12:53 PM PDT | Updated: 5 hrs ago

The state Supreme Court has agreed to review a public corruption case in San Bernardino County and decide whether bribery charges should be reinstated against a prominent Rancho Cucamonga developer.

But the state’s highest court upheld a lower court ruling to dismiss a conflict-of-interest charge against the developer, Jeff Burum.

The high court, which published its decision to review the case on Wednesday, has yet to schedule a date to hear oral arguments.

Specifically, the state Supreme Court justices will decide on the following question brought forth by state and local prosecutors: Can a defendant be charged with both offering a bribe to another person and aiding and abetting the receipt of the bribe by that person?

Prosecutors allege Burum gave a total of $400,000 in bribes to county officials, but charged him with four felony bribery counts alleging he aided and abetted county officials in the receipt of those bribes.

A criminal grand jury indicted Burum and three county officials in May 2011 in a corruption case involving a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s investor group, Colonies Partners LP, which prosecutors say was tainted by bribery, blackmail and extortion.

Also charged in the case are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor and labor union president Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

All four defendants maintain their innocence.

In August 2011, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville, citing prosecutorial error, dismissed five of the seven felony charges against Burum, including all bribery charges, and some of the charges against the other defendants.

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