By Joe Nelson, The Sun
and Richard K. De Atley, The Press-Enterprise
Posted: 05/31/17 – 9:10 PM PDT |
SAN BERNARDINO >> A defense attorney on Wednesday continued challenging the credibility of former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman on claims he heard and saw details that pointed to bribery in settling a $102 million lawsuit between the county and developer Colonies Partners in 2006.
It was during one of those meetings, Aleman had testified in a San Bernardino courtroom, that defendant developer Jeff Burum had promised then-County Supervisor Bill Postmus that “everyone would be taken care of politically” once the Colonies matter was settled.
Prosecutors allege three county officials each took $100,000 bribes, which were reported as campaign contributions, from Rancho Cucamonga developer Burum, via his Colonies Partners LP investor group, to gain approval for the $102 million court settlement over flood control work at Colonies’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland.
Defendants include Burum, former county Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, former county Supervisor Paul Biane, and Mark Kirk, the chief of staff for former Supervisor Gary Ovitt.
All the defendants have denied any wrongdoing, saying the contributions from Colonies Partners were public donations to legal political action committees, were part of the Colonies’ attempts to mend fences after the contentious legal dispute and were available online for public review. Burum is a co-managing partner of Colonies Partners.
Aleman had described in earlier testimony attending six to 12 different 2006 meetings between January and June with Postmus and Burum at restaurants and on the patio of the Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga.
But, Aleman told Burum defense attorney Jennifer Keller on Wednesday, he could not recall which location it was where Burum made the statement he claimed.
Under Keller’s questioning, Aleman ran into trouble about the locations of the restaurants. Aleman had claimed the meetings took place at an El Torito in Upland and an Acapulco Restaurant at Montclair Plaza.
“You never were at the El Torito in Upland,” Keller told him. “You told (District Attorney investigators Hollis “Bud” Randles and Robert Schreiber) in February 2009 they met at an Ontario El Torito, next to the Black Angus.
“You never said anything to investigator Randles and Schreiber about meeting at an El Torito in Upland?”
“Sorry, it may have been the one in Ontario,” Aleman said.
Keller also asked Aleman about testifying under direct examination from Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel that the Acapulco restaurant where one meeting with Burum occurred was at the Montclair Plaza, but that he previously told investigators the restaurant was in Ontario.
Keller asked Aleman to describe the patio at the Red Hill Country Club. He said it was a large patio with restaurant service. Keller further described it as patio that wraps around with views of rolling hills and the golf course. Aleman did not disagree.
Then she told Aleman there was no club house or patio at the country club during the January-June 2006 time frame Aleman had described. They had been razed for remodeling.
“At no time during your 70 interviews (with District Attorney investigators) you never mentioned you met with Mr. Postmus and Mr. Burum at the Red Hill Country Club,” Keller said.
“I can’t recall,” Aleman said.
She also challenged Aleman’s recollection of being at a hotel room meeting with several figures in the case in November 2006. Aleman told a 2011 grand jury it was at a Sheraton. The meeting as actually at the Doubletree Inn in Ontario, and none of the men attending recalled Aleman being there, Keller noted.
“You put yourself in a hotel where a meeting never happened,” Keller said.
“Those are your words,” Aleman said back.
“Those are the words of everybody but you, Mr. Aleman,” she replied.
“All we have is your word? You don’t have anything to document your presence at those meetings?” Keller asked.
Aleman said he didn’t.
To read expanded article, click here.