By Richard K. De Atley, The Press-Enterprise
Posted: 05/22/17 – 5:41 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> Former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman told jurors Monday in the Colonies bribery trial that, like his former boss Bill Postmus, he was testifying under a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Aleman, who followed Postmus to the witness stand, described under questioning by Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel how he destroyed a computer hard drive and altered records to thwart an investigation into corruption at the county Assessor’s Office after Postmus was elected to that position in 2006.

“Mr. Aleman, you personally were involved in criminal activity while you were working for Mr. Postmus?” Mandel asked.

“Yes,” Aleman answered. He said he worked to cover up Postmus’ office as it became a hotbed of political-favor hires and work-rule violations, including political work done on county time.

Aleman described his decision to turn state’s evidence after his June 30, 2008 arrest, including making secret recordings for District Attorney investigators.

He originally was cooperating for the Assessor’s Office investigation, but then volunteered allegations about Colonies. Aleman said he was hoping for leniency in his case, and agreed with Mandel that no promises were made to him at the outset.

Aleman and Postmus are the two key witnesses for the prosecution in the Colonies case, which alleges three county officials each allegedly took $100,000 in bribes from a developer to gain approval for a favorable $102 million court settlement with developer Colonies Partners LP over flood control work at a 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland.

Defendants are former county Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, a co-managing partner at Colonies Partners, former county Supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, the former chief of staff for county Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

All have denied any wrongdoing, saying the contributions that prosecutors call bribes were made as public donations to political action committees and were easily traceable online.

Aleman on Monday described in Judge Michael A. Smith’s San Bernardino courtroom his manipulation of one of those political action committees a decade ago.

Postmus, he said, created two PACSs, each set up to receive $50,000 from Colonies Partners, in 2007. The public filing documents, he told Mandel, did not connect the PACs to Postmus.

One of them was the Inland Empire PAC, and its filing papers claimed it would be overseen by land developer and Postmus business associate Dino DeFazio.

Aleman told Mandel he created an email address for DeFazio and had it on his BlackBerry. He would send emails as DeFazio to contract treasurer Betty Presley, he testified. In one case, Aleman testified he signed DeFazio’s name to a fax document.

As DeFazio, he requested a $12,000 check made out to the Biane for Supervisor campaign on March 1, 2007, he told Mandel. The decision for the contribution actually came from Postmus, he testified.

Aleman told Mandel his BlackBerry had three email addresses on it — his government address, his personal address, and the one he had created as the De Fazio email. Toggling between the three sometimes created complications.

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