Postmus’ deal with prosecutors could swing SB County lawsuits
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/05/2011 08:20:44 PM PDT

Meeting in closed session Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors discussed the impact former board Chairman Bill Postmus’ guilty pleas might have on a landmark legal settlement and related lawsuits.

No action was taken, but a county spokesman said lawyers are looking into the matter.

“The county’s attorneys are analyzing these complex issues,” David Wert said.

As part of a plea bargain, Postmus on March 28 pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, including conspiracy to accept bribes and conflict of interest, in connection with a landmark $102 million settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006.

His charges will be reduced if he cooperates with prosecutors.

Colonies co-managing partners Jeff Burum and Dan Richards have been identified as uncharged co-conspirators in the county’s criminal complaint against Postmus and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin.

Burum continues to reject any notion that the settlement was tainted.

“The settlement was fair and reasonable considering what the county did to a private land owner,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “Anyone that believes the county settled the case for any reason other than they knew they were wrong is simply being misled or is ignoring the truth.”

Burum added that any further court proceedings or review of the case would not change the facts of the case.

But prosecutors say Postmus’ conflict-of-interest plea – one of three felony convictions that will stick under the terms of his plea agreement – could open the door to further action by the county in civil court to void the Colonies settlement, the largest in the county’s history.

San Bernardino Associated Governments, or Sanbag, the county’s transportation planning agency, has argued that Postmus’ plea warrants immediate dismissal, or at least suspension, of the county’s lawsuit against the agency seeking to recoup some of the cost of the settlement.

The county contends that Sanbag, the city of Upland and Caltrans should be held responsible for at least part of the settlement because of their involvement in flood-control improvements necessitated by the extension of the 210 Freeway, which runs through the developer’s property.

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