Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/18/2010 06:12:46 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – Former county Supervisor Bill Postmus appeared briefly Thursday morning in Superior Court on felony charges related to an investigation into the multi-million dollar Colonies lawsuit settlement.

Postmus, 38, of Victorville was scheduled to enter pleas on five felony counts ranging from conspiracy to receiving a bribe and embezzlement.

But a co-defendant who is also charged in the case, Jim Erwin, wasn’t set to be arraigned until next month. Postmus’ lawyer Stephen Levine requested his client’s arraignment be postponed until Erwin and Postmus could appear together in court on April 13.

Prosecutors did not object.

“This is an effort to economize the process of the case,” said Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope. The move enables judicial efficiency by keeping Postmus and Erwin together for the same case.

The Colonies settlement has been described by state and local prosecutors as the “biggest corruption scandal in San Bernardino County’s history.”

Prosecutors allege the defendants, along with five unnamed co-conspirators, participated in a conspiracy to illegally secure the landmark $102 million settlement, which was not signed off by any of the county’s attorneys or their outside counsel.

On Thursday, Postmus waited in the courtroom gallery until his case was called and then joined Levine before Judge James Dorr as the pair requested a continuance.

Levine later said Postmus and Erwin, 47, of Highland received different dates to appear in court when they posted bail after being arrested Feb. 10 and were booked into county jail. The state prefers joining the two, he said.

Postmus was chairman of the Board of Supervisors at the time of the settlement. Erwin, who was then chief of administration for the Safety Employees Benefit Association, served as an intermediary on behalf of Colonies.

The lawsuit stemmed from a dispute over costs for flood-control improvements at the Colonies Crossroads residential and commercial development adjacent to the 210 Freeway in Upland.

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