San Bernardino, CA
Defense attorneys secured a victory in the infamous Colonies case last week when San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith agreed to suppress some evidence in advance of the highly anticipated corruption trial.
The evidence in question involved allegations that former San Bernardino County Second District Supervisor Paul Biane was threatened by the county’s former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin in 2006. The threat purportedly occurred subsequent to the Board of Supervisors’ approval of a $102-million-dollar settlement against the county and in favor of the Colonies Partners, LP investor group.
The judge stated he saw no relevance in allowing evidence of conduct that occurred subsequent to the county’s approval of the Colonies’ settlement.
It took nearly five years to reach the historic 2006 settlement of a conflict between San Bernardino County and the Colonies Development Group over who should be responsible for building a flood control basin at the upscale Colonies development in Upland.
The 434 acre residential and commercial development was facilitated by Colonies developer and managing partner Jeff Burum who is alleged to have bribed key county officials to secure the huge settlement.
On Friday, the judge also suppressed evidence of Burum’s post-settlement partnership with San Bernardino County that involved a profit-sharing venture related to the purchase of foreclosed homes; as well as certain evidence related to a land swap proposal considered settlement negotiations that was later removed from consideration.