Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Created: 10/08/2010 07:36:01 PM PDT
Former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus used his political clout to create jobs for his boyfriends and misspent thousands of taxpayer dollars on computer accessories and trips to Colorado and Texas, according to court testimony Friday.
And during his brief tenure as county assessor, Postmus, 39, was struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine – a drug district attorney investigators seized from his home, along with the psychoactive drug Ecstasy and drug paraphernalia, during a search on January 15, 2009.
Postmus and his former boyfriend, Gregory Eyler, 34, appeared in San Bernardino Superior Court Friday for a preliminary hearing in connection with a scandal that erupted at the Assessor’s Office in 2007 and 2008. The hearing resumes at 9 a.m. Oct. 15 before Judge Michael A. Smith. They are charged multiple felony counts of grand theft and public officer crimes.
Postmus faces additional counts of drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and perjury.
Senior district attorney investigator Hollis “Bud” Randles took the witness stand Friday, testifying all day about information obtained in interviews with former assistant assessor Adam Aleman in November 2008 and August 2009.
Aleman, 27, pleaded no contest last year to four felonies for his role in the scandal, and is testifying against his former colleagues as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors for a lighter sentence.
Incidents of inappropriate conduct by Eyler and Postmus, which Aleman relayed to Randles, include:
• Postmus charged hundreds of dollars of gas to his county credit card for a vacation he took to Aspen, Colorado with Aleman and several others, in Aleman’s personal vehicle.
• In February 2007, Postmus charged more than $1,200 to his county credit card for two plane tickets to Austin, Tx., where he and his business partner, John Dino DeFazio, attended a conference of the Maverick Political Action Committee. The two later reimbursed the county after they became aware of a Grand Jury investigation into alleged malfeasance in the assessor’s office.
• While Postmus was out on medical leave between July and October 2008, he charged $269.36 to his county credit card for a wireless card for his county-issued laptop computer. A forensic analysis of the computer determined that no county related work was done on the computer in the time Postmus was on leave.
• Postmus created a nonprofit organization, the High Desert Youth Fund, solely to give Eyler a job, naming him the executive director and paying him a salary of $2,000 a month.
• While Eyler was working at the Assessor’s Office, Postmus had him fuel and wash his car regularly and clean his home every Thursday, all on county time. He paid Eyler $100 a week for the work.
• Postmus met a man on a gay Internet site and began an intimate relationship with him. He then gave him a job at the assessor’s office as a public service employee. The man told Randles he quit after only four months because Postmus made continual unwanted sexual advances.
• Postmus, Randles said, hired Rancho Cucamonga Councilman Rex Gutierrez at the behest of developer Jeff Burum because Gutierrez voted on Burum’s projects in Rancho Cucamonga and Postmus owed Burum a favor. Burum has repeatedly denied those allegations.
Postmus is accused of taking office as assessor in January 2007 with the intent of running a political operation, at taxpayer expense, to bolster his political influence.
Postmus maintains his innocence, and, like other defendants tied to the scandal, believe District Attorney Michael A. Ramos has trumped up allegations for political gain. Postmus and other defendants, including former assistant assessor Jim Erwin, have launched a counter-offensive against Ramos in the last year, accusing him of abusing his power and his office, and of having multiple affairs with his subordinates and others. Ramos denies the allegations, and says the offensive against him and his office is part of a well-organized and well-funded effort to undermine his offices corruption investigations and cases.
One of Ramos’s former employees, Cheryl Ristow, has filed a lawsuit against Ramos and the county alleging sexual harassment and workplace retaliation. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a contract with the Riverside law firm Gresham Savage Nolan & Tilden to represent Ramos and the county in the lawsuit.
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