Judge says FBI searches in Colonies case appear just

Joe Nelson and Mike Cruz, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 11/10/2011 05:01:31 PM PST

RIVERSIDE — A federal judge seemed poised to rule that federal agents did not violate the civil rights of Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum when they served search warrants at his home and office in September.

During a two-hour hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court, Judge S. James Otero heard arguments from Burum’s attorney, Stephen G. Larson, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry A. Behnke over whether federal prosecutors should be able to retain documents and other information seized during the Sept. 15 raid.

There is no deadline or estimated amount of time for Otero to deliver a decision, lawyers said. All they can do is wait for an email alert from the court that a ruling is available.
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Seized files to be returned to Burum

In a rare move, federal prosecutors have agreed to return materials to a Rancho Cucamonga developer that were seized in September as part of an investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the $102 million lawsuit settlement between Colonies Partners LP and San Bernardino County.

The materials were seized by FBI agents serving search warrants at the offices and home of developer Jeff Burum, Colonies co-managing partner, and looking into alleged bribery and conspiracy related to the landmark 2006 settlement.

Stephen Larson, Burum’s attorney and a former federal judge, argued in the days after the Sept. 15 search that agents erred by taking documents and other materials not covered under the warrant.
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Colonies warrants, affidavits unsealed for defense lawyers

Nearly a dozen search warrants and their affidavits served by investigators probing the Colonies Partners LP $102million settlement with San Bernardino County were ordered unsealed Monday for defense lawyers.

Lawyers for Jeff Burum, co-managing partner of Colonies Partners LP, have been trying to secure release of the warrants since June as part of their effort to fight the criminal charges against their client.

Those charges are part of a sweeping criminal probe of alleged county corruption.
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Judge declines to bar Grand Jury transcripts in San Bernardino County corruption case

Mike Cruz and Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/24/2011 02:55:29 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO — A Superior Court judge on Monday declined to bar more than 2,000 pages of Grand Jury transcripts in a criminal corruption probe from being used in a civil case involving the county and three other public entities.

Attorneys representing the county filed a motion with the court in September attempting to block the defendants in an indemnity lawsuit from using the transcripts in its defense. The county sued San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBag), Caltrans and the city of Upland in 2004, seeking to recover any damages that could arise from a separate land rights lawsuit it was engaged in with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP.

The developer sued the county in 2002, arguing the county abandoned its flood control easements and refused to pay for flood control improvements on its 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland. The county settled with the developer in November 2006 for $102 million, a settlement prosecutors now say was tainted by bribery and conflict of interest.
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Attorney: Former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin civil rights violated

Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/17/2011 02:19:00 PM PDT

The attorney defending former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin in a sweeping corruption probe is alleging that an FBI search of Erwin’s home was flawed and that Erwin’s civil rights were violated.

A motion filed by attorney Rajan Maline in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Oct. 11 is the second to be filed in the last three weeks challenging the strength of the Sept. 15 FBI raid in connection with an investigation into the county’s $102 million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006.

On Oct. 3, attorney Stephen Larson, who represents Colonies’ co-managing partner Jeff Burum, filed a motion with the court alleging Burum’s civil rights were violated and FBI agents essentially lied to him and in an official court document, tainting the search altogether.
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Assistant AG Schons to retire, take new job

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/06/2011 07:11:55 PM PDT

Senior state Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons will retire at the end of the month and will begin a new job at the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, officials from both offices said.

San Bernardino County Assistant District Attorney Jim Hackleman also is retiring. His last day is Friday.

Schons and Hackleman oversaw the prosecution of Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum and three former county officials in a sweeping corruption scandal tied to a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s development consortium, Colonies Partners LP. In a joint prosecution, the District Attorney’s and state Attorney General’s offices allege the settlement was tainted by bribery and extortion.
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Developer Burum’s attorney says FBI searches unconstitutional

Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/04/2011 01:59:35 PM PDT

Federal search warrants served at the home and business of Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum were unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, according to a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

Burum’s attorney, Stephen G. Larson, is demanding that all of Burum’s property seized during the Sept. 15 FBI and IRS raid immediately be returned to him.

The warrants were served at nine locations in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in connection with a sweeping corruption scandal involving allegations of bribery, extortion and fraud, according to the federal search warrant.

The allegations stem from a $102 million legal settlement between the county and Burum’s development consortium, Colonies Partners LP, in November 2006.
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Burum attorney argues DA has conflict of interest in corruption case

Alleging a conflict of interest exists, the attorney for Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum wants the district attorney recused from prosecuting his client.

The alleged conflict stems from conversations the pair had before conspiracy charges were filed against Burum, said attorney Stephen Larson.

Larson also said Tuesday in San Bernardino Superior Court that District Attorney Michael A. Ramos had appointed Burum to his advisory committee.

The relationship between the pair, says Larson, results in a conflict for Ramos in the prosecution of Burum.
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