John “Dino” Defazio stands charged with six felony counts of perjury in connection with his 2009 grand jury testimony in the Colonies public corruption case, which ended in acquittal in August for three of the defendants and dismissal of all charges in September against a fourth defendant.
By Joe Nelson | firstname.lastname@example.org | San Bernardino Sun
Published: January 26, 2018 at 11:14 am | Updated: January 26, 2018 at 4:03 pm
A San Bernardino Superior Court judge on Friday dismissed all six felony perjury charges against High Desert developer John Dino DeFazio, a figure in the Colonies corruption case who was accused of lying to the grand jury.
Judge Harold T. Wilson Jr. dismissed the charges in the “interest of justice,” court records show. It ended the 8-year-old criminal case against DeFazio that paralleled the ill-fated Colonies case, which ended in August and September 2017 with an acquittal for three of the defendants and the dismissal of all charges against the fourth defendant due to lack of evidence.
“He feels he’s got a piano off his back. I noticed he had a lighter step as he left the courthouse this morning,” DeFazio’s attorney, Richard Ewaniszyk, said of his client in a telephone interview following Friday’s court proceedings.
DeFazio, 57, of Victorville, was arrested in February 2010 and charged with two felony counts of perjury in connection with his October 2009 testimony before a grand jury in the Colonies corruption case. The charges were amended in 2012 to include four additional perjury counts.
In the Colonies case, prosecutors from the District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices alleged three former top county officials conspired with a Rancho Cucamonga developer to fix a $102 million legal settlement between the county and the developer in exchange for bribes. The Nov. 28, 2006, settlement ended a longstanding legal battle over flood control improvements at Colonies Partners’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, adjacent to the 210 Freeway.
Prosecutors alleged DeFazio lied about his involvement with a political action committee, the Inland Empire PAC, or I.E. PAC, which was secretly controlled by former county Supervisor Bill Postmus. Initially a targeted defendant in the Colonies case, Postmus, per a plea bargain with prosecutors, pleaded guilty in March 2011 and agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify at trial.
Postmus was accused of having the I.E. PAC and Conservatives for a Republican Majority PAC set up to funnel a $100,000 bribe from Rancho Cucamonga investor group Colonies Partners LP, headed by developer and former defendant Jeff Burum and real estate broker Daniel Richards. The $100,000 contribution, prosecutors alleged, was in exchange for Postmus approving the settlement. Contributions of the same amount were also funneled into three other PACs controlled by the former defendants in the case, prosecutors alleged. The allegations were never proven true.
DeFazio denied the allegations from the onset and refused offers by prosecutors to plead out on lesser charges. He said prosecutors continued pushing to get him to enter a plea.
“They were even trying today. They called my attorney last night and asked him if there was anything I’d take, and he said, ‘No, we want to go to trial,’” DeFazio said in a telephone interview Friday.
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