By Joe Nelson, The Sun
and Richard K. De Atley, The Press-Enterprise
Posted: 06/07/17 – 3:08 PM PDT |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The dismissal of an alternate juror in the Colonies bribery trial on Wednesday did not hinder testimony, in which defense attorneys continued drilling key witness Adam Aleman on his honesty and credibility.

The juror was dismissed by Judge Michael A. Smith due to continued illness, and testimony, now in its sixth month, resumed.

Defense attorney Rajan Maline continued his attack on Aleman’s previous statements and testimony, which Maline said often conflicted and suggested Aleman, a former Assistant Assessor, is lying.

Maline focused on Aleman’s varying accounts of whether or not he destroyed a laptop hard drive to hide evidence; his accounts of seeing allegedly damaging political mailers, and differing accounts about his sightings and confrontations with private investigators.

There are two juries in the case, and the dismissed panelist was on the jury hearing testimony for three of the four defendants — Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, former Supervisor Paul Biane and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for county Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

A second panel is hearing testimony for defendant Jim Erwin because some of the evidence prosecutors have on Erwin is inadmissible as to the other defendants.

Defense attorneys moved for the juror’s dismissal after learning she had suffered what was described in court as an anxiety attack.

Smith said the dismissed juror’s doctor gave her a note recommending a break from work and jury duty.

“It’s something that is likely to continue to interfere with her ability to serve as a juror, and even if she were here, there would be some question as to how much time she would devote to the trial,” Smith said.

Prosecutors allege three county officials each took $100,000 bribes, which were reported as campaign contributions, from Burum, a co-managing partner at Colonies Partners LP investor group, to gain approval in 2006 for a $102 million court settlement over flood control work at Colonies’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland.

All the defendants have denied any wrongdoing, saying the contributions, which were clearly identified as from Colonies Partners, were public donations to legal political action committees and were part of the Colonies’ attempts to mend fences after the contentious legal dispute and were available online for public review.

As testimony got underway, Maline, who represents Erwin, circled back to Aleman’s earlier statements, raking him over discrepancies that Maline said filled his testimony as Aleman outlined how he went from protecting his boss, Assessor Bill Postmus, to turning state’s evidence against Postmus.

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