Norma Torres


By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 08/04/14, 2:26 PM PDT | Updated: 10 mins ago

The state Senate on Monday unanimously approved legislation prompted by the Colonies corruption case in San Bernardino County and proposed by state Sen. Norma Torres, D-Chino, that would change the statute of limitations for certain bribery offenses.

Senate Bill 950 would suspend, until the discovery of the offense, the statute of limitations for the crimes of giving or offering a bribe to a public official or public employee or for asking for, receiving, or agreeing to receive a bribe by a public official. It was one of three legislative bills Torres introduced in February in response to the Colonies corruption case in San Bernardino County.

In that case, Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum and three former county officials — former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt — stand accused of bribery and misappropriation of public funds in connection with a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s investor group, Colonies Partners LP, in November 2006.

“When public officials act irresponsibly and accept bribes in exchange for large public payouts, it is the taxpayers who end up footing the bill,” Torres said in a statement Monday. “Bribery is a serious crime and a violation of the public’s trust. Our laws should be updated to ensure justice prevails and that those offering or accepting bribes end up facing charges in court regardless of how much time has elapsed since the offense occurred.”

SB 950 now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration of signing into law.

SB 951, which would have extended the statute of limitations for conspiracy to four years instead of three, died in the Senate Appropriations Committee. But the third and final bill of the package, SB 952, is still being heard in the Assembly. It would prohibit any individual from aiding or abetting a public officer or person, and expand penalties to also apply to individuals who willfully aid or abet the receipt of a bribe.

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