Jason Abbott, Staff Writer
Friday, April 1, 2011 – 04:30 p.m.
Defense attorneys representing a defendant targeted by San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and California Attorney General Kamala Harris are issuing a wave of subpoenas today to witnesses who will be expected to testify at an April 25th preliminary hearing on their knowledge of the 2006 Colonies Civil Case settlement that saved county taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Witnesses receiving subpoenas on behalf of defendant Jim Erwin will support the long-held view that the Colonies Civil Settlement in 2006 was appropriate, judicious, fair, and not tainted by malfeasance. Many of those receiving subpoenas today have inside knowledge of the negotiations and have long maintained the settlement’s fairness.
Other individuals being subpoenaed have information related to ancillary charges filed against Erwin.
Subpoenas are being served statewide.
The Colonies settlement decision received widespread news coverage this week when one participant in the negotiations, former county supervisor Bill Postmus, pleaded guilty to criminal counts associated with the civil case involving the builders and county government in a dispute over flood control easements.
Others closely involved in the settlement – such as then-County Supervisor Paul Biane – remain steadfast that the deal was handled in full accordance with the law.
Biane’s view – which he reiterated numerous times this week in press interviews – has long been shared by county administration officials.
“If the county had not settled the case, the (county flood control) district could have been responsible for triple the amount of the settlement,” said County spokesman David Wert in August 2009.
The 2006 decision between San Bernardino County and area builders of a housing and commercial development in Upland has been reviewed and upheld by independent jurists who exercised their duty of due diligence to arrive at their separate – yet identical -conclusions: Those involved in settlement discussions violated no law and taxpayers received an exceptionally fair deal.
The following fifteen subpoenas were issued today:
San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt – Voted in support of the settlement.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales – Previously testified before the county Grand Jury, initially voted to support the landmark settlement, but later changed her vote.
Former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Biane – Voted in support of the settlement.
Mark Kirk, former chief of staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt – Controlled a political action committee that received a $100,000 contribution from Colonies Partners L.P.
The Honorable James Brulte, former State Senator and partner in the Sacramento-based firm California Strategies – Brulte who previously testified before the County Grand Jury, acted as a mediator in the Colonies matter.
The Honorable Edward Panelli (Ret.), former Justice of the California Supreme Court – Currently a mediator / arbitrator for Judges Arbitration and Mediation Service (JAMS), participated in the final settlement of the Colonies lawsuit and deemed it fair.
The Honorable Christopher Warner (Ret.), former Superior Court Judge – rendered a judgement against the County of San Bernardino in the Colonies lawsuit.
Steven Hauer, Deputy Chief of Staff for Third District Supervisor Neil Derry.
David Goldstein, Attorney at Law – Rancho Cucamonga-based attorney, who initially represented accused defendant Jim Erwin.
Michael Eagleson, Chief of Labor Relations for the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association.
Michael A. Ramos, District Attorney for the County of San Bernardino
Brett J. Granlund, former State Assemblyman and lobbyist for the Sacramento-based firm Platinum Advisors.
David Ellis, owner of the Tustin-based firms Delta Partners LLC, The David Ellis Group and controlling person for The Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, a political action commitee. – Political Advisor and go-between for District Attorney Michael Ramos.
Mitchell Norton, Deputy County Counsel for the County of San Bernardino – Lead in-house counsel assigned to the Colonies lawsuit.
Scott Sommer, attorney with the San Francisco-based firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP – Legal team member for Colonies Partners, L.P.
Those named above are being served Friday, or should expect to be.
Of course, it’s possible others may also be subpoenaed by the defense team in the future as developments warrant.