Former San Bernardino County Assessor and former county supervisor Bill Postmus listens to his attorney Jeffrey Lawrence (not pictured) during a sentencing and motion hearing at the San Bernardino Justice Center in San Bernardino on Friday, November 2, 2018. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

By Joe Nelson | jnelson@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
Published: November 2, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Updated: November 4, 2018 at 9:07 am

The battle by former San Bernardino County assessor Bill Postmus to rescind his guilty plea in the Colonies corruption case began Friday with Postmus testifying he was a drug addict when he was coerced into accepting a deal with prosecutors.

Throughout a daylong hearing in San Bernardino Superior Court, Postmus testified about his 12-year addiction to methamphetamine, which hit its peak at the time he became ensnared in the criminal case. He said he was coerced by “heavy-handed district attorney investigators” and always thought he would receive probation, not prison time, if he cooperated with authorities.

Postmus’ former business partner, John Dino Defazio, and his former attorneys, Stephen Levine and Richard Farquhar, are scheduled to testify on his behalf Tuesday in Judge Michael A. Smith’s courtroom. If the judge decides against the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, Postmus will face sentencing in the case.

His current attorney, Jeffrey Lawrence, tried postponing Friday’s hearing so he could have more time to respond to the prosecution’s motion objecting to Postmus’ plea being vacated.

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel called it a “political stunt and affront to the court.” She claimed it’s a tactic to stall Postmus’ sentencing until incoming District Attorney Jason Anderson takes office in January, out of belief that Anderson will go easier on Postmus.

Anderson criticized the case during his campaign for District Attorney and has called it a “political prosecution.”

Smith rejected the motion.

“Ultimately, the issue is to be decided by the court, not Mr. Anderson,” Smith said during Friday’s proceedings. “Clearly, any hopes that the newly elected district attorney might look more favorably upon Mr. Postmus’ case is not good cause for a continuance.”

Postmus was a key witness in the Colonies public corruption case that ended last year with three defendants being acquitted on all charges and a fourth defendant having all charges dismissed after his jury announced it was “hopelessly deadlocked.”

Initially a targeted defendant in the case, Postmus entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors and agreed to turn state’s evidence. On March 28, 2011, he pleaded guilty to 15 felonies.

In the Colonies case, prosecutors initially accused Postmus of conspiring with a Rancho Cucamonga land developer and three former top county officials to settle a lawsuit with the developer, Colonies Partners, for $102 million in exchange for $400,000 in bribes.

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