Colonies defendants and their attorneys gather outside of a courtroom during a recess in San Bernardino Superior Court. File photo. (Photo by Rick Sforza/The Sun)

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
and Richard K. De Atley, The Press-Enterprise
Posted: 05/11/17 – 9:02 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> A prosecutor in the Colonies corruption case on Thursday walked former county Supervisor Bill Postmus through his 2011 statements that helped bring charges in the bribery trial, but Postmus appeared to be putting distance between himself and what he told authorities six years ago.

“At the time I made that statement to the FBI, I believed it to be true… At the time, I believed it,” Postmus said, in response to questions from prosecutor Lewis Cope, who asked the witness what he told authorities in 2011.

Postmus’ memory and susceptibility to suggestion had become a focus of defense attorneys during his eight days on the witness stand in Judge Michael A. Smith’s courtroom in San Bernardino. Postmus admitted he was heavily addicted to methamphetamine from 2003 through 2012 while serving as a county supervisor and then as county assessor.

“My mind is kind of messed up,” he testified on May 4.

However, Postmus says he has been sober since 2012.

Postmus served on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors while the county was embroiled in a heated legal battle with Rancho Cucamonga investor group Colonies Partners LP over flood control improvements at Colonies’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

Postmus was chairman of the board when in November 2006 it approved, on a 3-2 vote, a $102 million payout to Colonies Partners to settle the litigation. The settlement became the subject of a joint criminal investigation by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices in November 2008. Prosecutors allege the settlement was tainted by bribery.

Prosecutors allege three former top county officials each took $100,000 bribes, which were reported as campaign contributions, from Colonies Partners LP to gain approval of the $102 million settlement. Defendants include Colonies co-managing partner Jeff Burum, former county supervisor Paul Biane, former county Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for former county Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

All four defendants deny doing anything wrong, maintaining that the contributions to political action committees were publicly documented and an effort to mend political relationships soured by the contentious civil litigation.

Postmus was once a defendant in the case, but he entered into a March 2011 plea bargain with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against the others in the case.

Starting late Wednesday and through Thursday morning, Cope began reviewing Postmus’s 2011 interviews with District Attorney investigators and FBI agents, as well as his grand jury testimony, to review the statements defense attorneys had spent several days attacking.

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