Lawyers spar over the use of grand jury testimony in a civil suit tied to the 2006 Colonies settlement case


Published: 14 October 2011 07:44 PM

Criminal and civil lawsuits centered on a controversial San Bernardino County flood control settlement continue to collide, most recently regarding what can and cannot be shared between the two cases.

In a filing Thursday, Ken MacVey, a lawyer for San Bernardino Associated Governments, opposed a request by lawyers representing the county flood control district to prevent use of grand jury testimony in a San Bernardino Superior Court case from being used in a related civil suit in San Diego County.

Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, former Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff to Supervisor Gary Ovitt, face conspiracy and bribery-related charges over a $102 million settlement the county approved in November 2006 with Burum’s company, Colonies Partners. Prosecutors allege the settlement was a result of bribery and extortion.

In a separate civil case, the county is suing SANBAG, Upland and Caltrans for their roles in causing the flood basin problems that led Colonies to sue the county. County officials settled with Colonies in 2006. County lawyers claim SANBAG and the others caused the problems with the design of Highway 210 in western San Bernardino County. The civil suit seeks the agencies to pay some of the $102 million.

Lawyers for the agencies have said the agencies cannot pay part of a corrupt settlement, noting that in grand jury testimony unsealed in July, county attorneys also said the settlement made no sense legally.

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