Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/23/2010 06:42:31 PM PDT
Defense attorney James Reiss rested his case Wednesday in San Bernardino Superior court following testimony from four character witnesses in the trial of Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Rex Gutierrez.
Each of the character witnesses described the Gutierrez as an “honest man.”
Gutierrez, 50, is charged with felony grand theft, misappropriation of public funds and filing a false claim for allegedly submitting falsified time records and expense reports while working in the San Bernardino County Assessor’s Office from March 2007 through January 2009.
Prosecutors allege former county Assessor Bill Postmus hired Gutierrez as a political favor to Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum – an allegation Burum denies – and that Gutierrez abused his county position to facilitate his political career.
He attended numerous city-related functions on county time, and on some occasions was paid or reimbursed by both the county and the city for attending the same functions, they allege.
Dan Peters, a landscape contractor who said he has known Gutierrez for about 15 years and attends church with him regularly, called the councilman “a man of character” who “has morals, standards and values.”
When asked by Reiss if he believed Gutierrez to be an honest person, real estate developer Grady Hanshaw, who has known Gutierrez for more than seven years, said, “I absolutely do.”
Retired stockbroker Michael Hynes, who said he has known Gutierrez for 12 years, called the councilman “impeccably honest.”
“He’s a very moral guy. He’s a great guy,” Hynes said.
Mary Jane Bradshaw said the councilman worked with her and residents in her neighborhood on mitigating impacts of the 210 Freeway extension through Rancho Cucamonga when it was under construction.
“Rex was one of the first persons I called because he was an advocate for the citizens,” said Bradshaw, who has known Gutierrez about 20 years.
State Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel asked Peters if he would consider an employee dishonest if they told their employer they were sick when they were eating, drinking and attending conferences.
“Correct,” Peters replied.
Mandel asked Hanshaw, “You would agree that it’s important for developers to have good relationships with people on the City Council?”
“Yes,” Hanshaw said.
When asked if there ever was a time when Gutierrez was unavailable to meet with him because he was busy working at the Assessor’s Office, Hanshaw recalled one time when he and Gutierrez met for lunch, and Gutierrez told him he had to get back to work.
Mandel asked Bradshaw if she ever attended any fundraisers or other events during the day in which Gutierrez was present.
“I went to fundraisers. I don’t know if any of them were his,” Bradshaw said.
Current and former assessor’s employees testified that they rarely saw Gutierrez in the office and that when he was he engaged in work related to Rancho Cucamonga business.
Prosecutor John Goritz recalled to the witness stand former Assistant Assessor Harlow Cameron to testify as to his oversight of Gutierrez after the resignation of former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin.
Cameron said he never authorized Gutierrez to take paid sick leave or claim regular hours for attending events unrelated to the Assessor’s Office. He said he did not know if the time sheets Gutierrez submitted were accurate or not.
In addition, Cameron said he was only Gutierrez’s supervisor “on paper” and did not delegate work to the councilman. He said Postmus had final say regarding Gutierrez.
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