Courts

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 05/27/16 – 11:28 AM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> A defense attorney’s bid to get the San Bernardino County’s Colonies corruption case dismissed was rescheduled Friday until July 15.

Claiming prosecutors destroyed evidence, defense attorney Stephen Larson — who is representing defendant developer Jeff Burum — filed a motion May 13 seeking dismissal on grounds prosecutors at the state Attorney General’s Office, which is jointly prosecuting the case with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, did not save email between prosecutors and County Counsel that Larson says was exculpatory evidence.

San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith gave prosecutors until June 27 to file a response to Larson’s motion, and he gave Larson until July 8 to counter the prosecution’s response.

Smith will hear arguments from both sides on July 15, when he is expected to rule on Larson’s motion.

Burum, a Rancho Cucamonga developer, and three former top county officials were indicted in May 2011, accused of conspiring to fix a landmark $102 million settlement between the county and Burum’s investor group, Colonies Partners LP., in November 2006. 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 deny wrongdoing and have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors allege the settlement was tainted by bribery and was essentially a gift of taxpayer funds. Burum, prosecutors maintain, paid each of the other three defendants and former Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus $100,000 bribes, disguised as contributions to sham political action committees secretly controlled by the defendants.

The bribes were in exchange for Postmus and Biane approving the settlement in Colonies’ favor. Kirk stands accused of accepting a bribe in exchange for delivering Ovitt’s vote approving the settlement, according to the indictment.

The settlement ended a nearly five-year legal battle over who was responsible for paying for flood control improvements at Colonies’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

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