Courts

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 05/26/16 – 3:29 PM PDT |

Another motion seeking dismissal of San Bernardino County’s Colonies public corruption case will be heard Friday in San Bernardino Superior Court, this time on grounds prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office did not save e-mails a defense attorney maintains were evidence.

Defense attorney Stephen Larson, who is representing defendant Jeff Burum in the 5-year-old criminal case, filed a motion May 13 seeking dismissal.

Burum, a Rancho Cucamonga developer, and three former top county officials were indicted in May 2011 in connection with the far-reaching public corruption case that originated a decade ago. Also charged in the case are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for erstwhile county Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

All four defendants maintain their innocence.

Prosecutors allege Burum bribed the other three defendants and former Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus in November 2006 to fix the landmark $102 million settlement between the county and Burum’s Rancho Cucamonga investor group, Colonies Partners LP., in Colonies’ favor.

Burum, prosecutors allege, paid each of the defendants and Postmus $100,000 bribes, disguised as contributions to sham political action committees secretly controlled by the other defendants, within a year of the settlement.

The settlement ended a nearly 5-year legal battle between the county and Colonies Partners over who was responsible for paying for construction of a flood control basin at a more than 400-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

In March 2011, Postmus entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, admitting he accepted the bribe from Burum in exchange for his vote approving the settlement. He pleaded guilty to 10 felonies in connection with the Colonies case and a companion corruption case in which he was accused of abusing his power as county assessor for political gain.

Since the indictment, the defense has filed numerous motions challenging the evidence and charges filed in the case. It led to some of the charges, including the key conspiracy charge, being dismissed.

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