By Joe Nelson | jnelson@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: October 27, 2017 at 9:25 am |
Updated:   October 27, 2017 at 6:57 pm

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge on Friday referred the case of former San Bernardino County Assessor and Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus to the Riverside County Probation Department for review and sentencing recommendations.

The Probation Department is the last stop before Postmus, 46, of Victorville, is sentenced in connection with corruption at the Assessor’s Office during his brief reign in 2007 and 2008 and a $102 million legal settlement between the county and a Rancho Cucamonga investor group in November 2006, when Postmus was chairman of the Board of Supervisors, which prosecutors alleged was tainted by bribery.

Per a plea agreement with prosecutors, Postmus pleaded guilty in March 2011 to 15 felonies in connection with both cases. Postmus agreed to testify truthfully at the Colonies bribery trial in exchange for all but three of the felony charges being dropped. Now, it must be determined by Judge Michael A. Smith whether Postmus did, in fact, testify truthfully at trial, per the terms of his plea agreement.

Smith ordered Postmus to return to court on Jan. 19 for sentencing.

District Attorney Mike Ramos, in a statement issued following the Sept. 22 dismissal of Colonies trial defendant Jim Erwin’s case, said Postmus’ testimony during the trial had proved problematic for prosecutors.

“Bill Postmus’ unexpected testimony on cross-examination at the last trial conflicted with his (2011) grand jury testimony, his statement to the FBI, and multiple interviews with the District Attorney’s Office,” Ramos said in his statement.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, who along with Supervising Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel was a lead prosecutor on the case, declined to comment following Friday’s proceedings. The District Attorney’s Office has long had a policy not to discuss its ongoing cases outside the courtroom.

On Aug. 28, a jury, after only about a day of deliberating, acquitted Colonies trial defendants Jeff Burum, a Rancho Cucamonga developer, former county Supervisor Paul Biane, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for former county Supervisor Gary Ovitt, following the eight-month marathon trial.

On Sept. 22, all charges were dismissed against fourth defendant Jim Erwin after his jury announced it was “hopelessly deadlocked” following nearly two weeks of deliberating. Erwin, a former assistant assessor, had his own jury because some of the evidence against him was not admissible against the other three defendants.

Prosecutors claimed bribery drove the $102 million settlement in 2006 by the county Board of Supervisors that favored investor group Colonies Partners LP, which ended a years-long legal battle over flood control work on Colonies’ 434-acre property in Upland.

The case was referred to the Riverside County Probation Department for various reasons, such as avoiding a potential conflict of interest given that Postmus at one time was among those who controlled the county purse strings, Postmus’ attorney Stephen Levine said.

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