08:59 AM PDT on Tuesday, April 26, 2011

By IMRAN GHORI
The Press-Enterprise

Special Section: San Bernardino Co. Probe

A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge agreed Monday to delay a preliminary hearing on corruption charges against former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin for a month.

The hearing had been set to begin Monday but prosecutors sought the delay because they are busy with a criminal grand jury proceeding and a witness is unavailable, according to court documents.

Although county officials have confirmed that several supervisors and other witnesses have been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury this month, the district attorney’s motion is the office’s first public acknowledgment of the proceeding.

The district attorney’s office has declined to comment on the focus of the grand jury and whether it might return additional indictments against other suspects.

Witnesses received summons to appear before the grand jury only days after former Assessor and Supervisor Bill Postmus pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, including accepting a bribe in a $102 million settlement with Colonies Partners in November 2006.

The Rancho Cucamonga developer has denied any wrongdoing.

Erwin, who was Postmus’ co-defendant in the bribery case, continues to face charges of bribery and conspiracy as well as multiple charges of perjury over allegations he failed to disclose gifts he received from a developer.

Erwin, who was first arrested in March 2009, said he wants to proceed with the hearing.

“I’m entitled to a preliminary hearing where I can call witnesses and challenge evidence and that’s what I’m asking for,” he said.

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