June 30, 2010 5:49 PM
SAN BERNARDINO • Judge Duke D. Rouse declared a mistrial Wednesday in the corruption case of Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Rex Gutierrez, who’s accused of defrauding taxpayers while working in the San Bernardino County Assessor’s office under Bill Postmus.
Prosecutors argued Gutierrez, 50, worked on Rancho Cucamonga matters on county time and filed false time cards during his 22 months as intergovernmental relations officer in the Assessor’s office. He faced two felony counts of grand theft of more than $400 and one felony count of filing a false claim.
On the two grand theft counts, the jury voted 7-5 and 8-4 to convict, according to Gutierrez’s attorney James Reiss. Nine jurors voted to convict him on the false-claim count.
All 12 jurors must agree on the defendant’s guilt for a conviction.
“We’re still confident in our case, and looking forward to retrying the case,” Deputy District Attorney John Goritz said.
Gutierrez is the first to be tried of six men arrested in connection with a wide-ranging county corruption probe, which began in the Assessor’s office and now centers around a $102 million settlement the county paid to Rancho Cucamonga-developer Colonies Partners.
Prosecutors had argued that Gutierrez’s job was rooted in a broader conspiracy to use the Assessor’s office for a personal political operation. They claimed Jeffrey Burum, co-managing partner with Colonies, scored Gutierrez the county job as a political favor through Postmus — an allegation both Postmus and Burum have repeatedly denied.
Reiss said he wasn’t surprised by the hung jury due to the nature of the case.
“You get 12 people in one room and ask them about politicians, time cards, expensive investigations, all this political witch hunt, and people just disagree as to what should happen,” Reiss said.