04:02 PM PST on Saturday, January 29, 2011

By DARRELL R. SANTSCHI
The Press-Enterprise

Special Section: San Bernardino Co. Probe

A judge agreed to hold a preliminary hearing April 25 on conspiracy charges against former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus and his former assistant assessor, Jim Erwin, related to the county’s approval of a lawsuit settlement with a Rancho Cucamonga developer.

Superior Court Judge Duke Rouse noted in court Friday morning that Erwin has made all of his court appearances, allowing Erwin to be released on his own recognizance without posting bail until his case is decided.

At a preliminary hearing, a judge determines whether there is enough evidence to go to trial.

The judge also agreed to hear arguments Friday on the prosecution’s request for a protective order that would prevent defense lawyers from making public some documents that will be turned over to Postmus’ and Erwin’s attorneys as part of the legal discovery process.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope did not say what specific documents are involved. Erwin’s attorney had attempted earlier to obtain transcripts of a grand jury investigation into the process that led to a $102 million settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners.

Erwin and Postmus are accused of conspiring through bribery and extortion to gain the county’s approval of the settlement in November 2006.

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