10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, June 23, 2010

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

A San Bernardino County prosecutor hammered at the credibility of Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Rex Gutierrez on Wednesday as the former county assessor’s official continued his second day on the witness stand.

The testimony came as the prosecution and defense called their last witnesses in the sixth day of the corruption trial. Closing arguments are scheduled for today.

Gutierrez, 50, is charged with grand theft, misappropriation of public funds and filing a false claim. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
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Gutierrez is one of five former San Bernardino County assessor’s office employees, including former Assessor Bill Postmus, facing criminal charges as a result of a district attorney’s probe into allegations of corruption at the office.

Prosecutors allege Gutierrez was hired as intergovernmental affairs officer by Postmus as a favor to Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, with the understanding that he would do little work.

Deputy District Attorney John Goritz questioned Gutierrez at length about whether he knowingly falsified his time cards when he attended events connected to his duties as a councilman during work hours and collected a full-day’s pay from the county.

“You’re telling us writing sick time when you’re not sick is not dishonest?” Goritz asked him.

“I did not understand that to be dishonest,” Gutierrez responded, saying he was told by a supervisor that it was OK to do so.

Gutierrez said two of his supervisors filled out his time cards on a few occasions, but after repeated questioning he conceded he was responsible for the information in them.

Gutierrez said he was told he could work a flexible schedule and make up his time during off-hours.

“You have little or no tangible evidence of that?” Goritz asked him.

Gutierrez responded that he did not keep records of when he worked at home.

His defense attorney, James Reiss, called three longtime friends of Gutierrez as character witnesses. They all described him as an honest person.

“He’s a man of character — has morals, values and standards,” said Dan Peters, who attends the same Rancho Cucamonga church as Gutierrez and has known him for more than a decade.

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