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Judge drops five more charges in San Bernardino County Colonies corruption trial

By in Press Enterprise on July 12, 2017

By Richard DeAtley, Joe Nelson

The judge in the San Bernardino County Colonies corruption trial dismissed five more charges against the defendants Tuesday, July 11, but he determined there was enough evidence for jurors to decide whether bribery was behind a $102 million county settlement with a developer in 2006.

The five dismissed charges included misappropriation of public funds allegations against all four defendants.

A perjury charge also was dismissed against former county Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, on a motion by prosecutors.

A total of nine charges have been dismissed against the defendants during the seven months of trial, most of those in the past few court days as Judge Michael A. Smith heard procedural defense motions after the prosecution rested its case June 29. The defense will begin presenting witnesses on Monday.

Mark Kirk, a former chief of staff for County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, is the only defendant who does not face a bribery charge as the trial enters its final weeks. Smith tossed a charge against him of agreeing to receive and ask for a bribe. Two other counts against Kirk remain.

Seventeen felony counts have been dismissed in the case since the May 2011 indictment, which initially totaled 29 counts.

Prosecutors allege three county officials each took $100,000 bribes, which were reported as campaign contributions, from Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum to gain approval for the $102 million court settlement over flood control work at Rancho Cucamonga investor group Colonies Partners’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

Defendants include Burum, Kirk, former county Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and former county Supervisor Paul Biane. Erwin is accused of acting as Burum’s intermediary during the Colonies settlement negotiations and receiving $100,000 for helping to deliver the vote.

All the defendants deny any wrongdoing. They say the PAC contributions by Colonies Partners were made […]    

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