Rex Gutierrez
Monday, January 1, 05:00 p.m.

The seven-year Colonies “Trial of the Century” is over. San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, with then-Attorney General Jerry Brown at his side, proclaimed that this was the biggest public corruption scandal in the history of the county and the state of California. Surely this was the impetus that would propel Ramos to statewide, and possibly national office!

But the trial was a complete fiasco. Key witnesses became hostile or were impeached. It took over six months for the prosecution to present its case to an increasingly restless jury. It was so bad that a visiting reporter sat next to me and asked, “which side is this witness testifying for?” Indeed, many witnesses appeared to be testifying for the opposite side. This atrocity was so bad that the defense didn’t even have to present its case. The prosecution had done it for them. That’s like a football team never having to put its offense on the field. It was like Custer’s last stand, where Sioux warriors later recalled that the battle lasted as long as it takes a starving dog to finish its meal. This trial was a disaster for the county and complete abomination because it severely damaged the reputations, careers and personal lives of four defendants, their families, and hundreds of others.

Evidence suggests that the county spent over $50 million dollars on this trial. The number could approach $100 million. Inept DA employees can’t say how much they spent on the trial because they don’t track these expenses. Really? That isn’t the DA’s money. It’s the people’s money. Sounds like economist Milton Friedman was right– “Nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as his own.”

And why did the prosecution fail so miserably? Easy answer: They spent about a year devising a narrative that would win headlines, but was built on a foundation of sand. They conspired to devise a wicked, false narrative built almost entirely on one witness that had already admitted to lying to a grand jury. That witness was Adam Aleman, a scared young man who got caught red-handed in his lies to the grand jury and subsequently made a deal with the DA to avoid prison. Poor Adam offered anything he thought the DA wanted to hear. He agreed to the DA’s goal of bringing down Colonies President Jeff Burum with allegations that a legal settlement was tainted by bribery. But Adam’s sensational lies were completely exposed during the Colonies trial. In one instance, Aleman testified that he listened in on meetings between his boss, Assessor Bill Postmus, and big fish Jeff Burum, at Rancho Cucamonga’s Red Hill Country Club in the first half of 2006. But the defense showed that the country club was demolished for remodeling during 2006. Adam was caught in about six such instances of flagrant lies in front of the judge, jury and many observers. One juror summed it all up by saying that he and his colleagues knew Adam was “lying through his teeth.”

Now, after the trial has ended, District Attorney Ramos is too invested in Adam Aleman to admit that the poor kid ruined his case. He seeks to shift the blame to another witness who actually tried to tell the truth, former Assessor Bill Postmus. Adam Aleman, the only actor in this tragedy to admit to lying, is being protected by DA Ramos and his yes man, Deputy DA Lewis Cope. Ramos is a lost cause. He still aspires to higher office and wants to protect his legacy. But Mr. Cope? He is said to be contemplating retirement. He is known by some to be a man of integrity. Mr. Cope, if you are a man of integrity, defy your superiors and simply ask Adam Aleman what really happened in the Assessor’s office. Free him. Help him come clean, for his salvation, and yours.

How can I know so much about Adam Aleman? Because he lied 21 times in my trial. I am the forgotten man that DA Ramos and witness Adam Aleman used to build their narrative about big fish Jeff Burum. I was arrested and sent to prison for supposedly taking a “do nothing” job in the assessor’s office so I could have time to do Burum’s bidding. How preposterous. One jury thought Adam was lying. Undeterred, Ramos added a conspiracy charge and tried me again, until a worn out jury acquiesced and convicted me for “conspiring” to take a do-nothing job and not producing enough work product. When I was arrested and humiliated by the DA’s goons, did they interrogate me about my work product? Of course not. They bombarded me with questions about Jeff Burum. That’s all they wanted.

To ruin a life, a career, a family of one man in order to get to a bigger fish; how sad. To further the career of a DA? That’s just evil.

I want to clear my name. I want redemption, and justice. I want Lewis Cope and Mike Ramos to get the real truth out of Adam Aleman. If he lied to the grand jury, and lied in the Colonies trial, doesn’t it follow that he lied in my trial as well? Dammit, my life is precious too, and I want it back.

They say that hope is a good thing… maybe the best of things. I hope that one day my children will know that I died with my good name intact.

It’s interesting. Those who have suffered injustices by arrest and imprisonment are almost romanticized– Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jean Valjean of Les Miserables, the Count of Monte Cristo, Jesus Christ, all the martyrs, and most saints, apostles and prophets. But today’s victims are pariahs, myself included. I’m nothing special. I’m just a nobody. But may I humbly make a little prophecy of my own? Mike Ramos, your political career is over.

Rex Gutierrez was elected four times to the Rancho Cucamonga City Council and served as the city’s Mayor Pro Tem for two years. He served half of a three-year sentence in California’s prison system before being released in 2012.