Superior Court Judge Michael Smith threw out the conspiracy charges against the four Colonies defendants during a motion hearing.
By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 07/23/14, 10:54 AM PDT | Updated: 40 secs ago
SAN BERNARDINO >> Prosecutors in San Bernardino County’s Colonies corruption case suffered a major blow to their case on Wednesday when a judge dismissed conspiracy charges against all four defendants.
San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith sided with defense attorney Stephen Larson, representing one of the four defendants, Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum, in the case, saying the charge was barred by a 3-year statute of limitations, and not four years from the time of the discovery of the offense as prosecutors argued.
“Conspiracy is a three-year statute of limitations, regardless of whether the target or basis of the crime is misconduct in public office,” Smith said.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Abney argued that the 3-year statute of limitations for conspiracy did not apply in this case because the alleged crime was carried out in public office.
“As soon as you find a conspiracy that was done by these defendants while in public office, that’s it, you’re done,” Abney said.
Larson filed a batch of motions in January, arguing that the case should be dismissed on grounds of prosecutor misconduct, insufficient evidence and that the statute of limitations had lapsed to charge the offenses. He referred to the case as a “targeted, politically motivated smear campaign” that has irreparably harmed his client.
In their response, prosecutors argued that Burum and Larson trumped up the allegations of misconduct and misstated or mischaracterized myriad facts.
They said they went above and beyond their obligations of ensuring the Grand Jury received or had access to all exculpatory evidence presented by the defense. They also said they acted lawfully when they served a search warrant at an El Segundo-based private investigation firm hired by Larson to conduct surveillance on witnesses in the case, including former county Assessor and Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus.
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