scales-of-justice

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 03/03/14, 6:30 PM PST |

RIVERSIDE >> Prosecutors and defense attorneys are finally in agreement on one thing in San Bernardino County’s Colonies corruption case: that the case should be remanded to Superior Court from the 4th District Court of Appeal so it can proceed to trial.

In a brief filed with the appellate court on Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel, who has been working with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office for the last four years on the case, did not object to the case being returned to trial court.

On Jan. 24, defense attorney Stephen Larson, who represents Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum in the case, filed a brief requesting the case be returned to Superior Court so the defense can present their case to a jury.

“Because there are no further legal issues to be considered by this court at this time, an order should be issued remanding the case to the Superior Court,” Larson said in his motion.

Burum and three former county officials – 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 – were indicted in May 2011 and stand accused of criminal conspiracy and bribery in a public corruption case.

The case stems from a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s real estate investor group, Colonies Partners LP., in November 2006, which prosecutors say was tainted by a far-reaching and sophisticated criminal conspiracy involving bribery, blackmail and extortion.

The settlement ended nearly five years of legal battle over who was responsible for paying for flood control improvements at Burum’s 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively. The development was bankrolled by Colonies Partners, of which Burum was a co-managing partner.

In December, the state Supreme Court issued an opinion, declaring that the appellate court erred when it upheld the dismissal of bribery charges against Burum and Erwin, and remanded the matter back to the appellate court for further review.

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