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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Seven deny murder charges in death of Montclair man

By Will Bigham, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/23/2011 03:16:18 PM PDT

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Seven people have pleaded not guilty to murder and other criminal charges in connection with the alleged kidnapping and killing of a 22-year-old Montclair man.

Erick Estuardo Cate’s body was found Tuesday in the area of the 15 and 8 freeways in San Diego. He was reported missing Oct. 12 from the 2400 block of West Arrow Route in Upland.

Prosecutors filed three felonies – murder, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon – against each of the seven people suspected of participating in Cate’s alleged killing.
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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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Redlands landlady arraigned again in 1994 disappearance

By Jesse Gill
Posted: 01/25/2010 05:37:39 PM PST

SAN DIEGO – A landlady accused with the 1994 killing of her tenant was arraigned in a San Diego Superior Court today.

Seferina Marquez Ponce, 52, pleaded not guilty to killing 18-year-old Sarah Reyes. San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney John Thomas said Ponce will appear in court again Feb. 1 for a status conference.

Redlands Police arrested Ponce Friday in connection with the Reyes’ killing.

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Man sentenced to life in prison in three area murders

A man charged with the violent murders of three men was sentenced today to life in state prison, after a Superior Court judge denied his attempt to back out of a plea bargain that helped him avoid the death penalty.

Defendant Christopher Richard Lanteigne, 29, and co-defendants Camille Vredenburg, 27, and Christopher Weaver, 32, pleaded guilty as part of a package deal for their roles in a 2004 series of crimes, including the murders, that extended from San Bernardino to the San Gorgonio Pass.

On Mar. 5, Lanteigne and Weaver pleaded guilty to three counts of murder – as part of a plea bargain package – in the deaths of Scott Fisher, 42, of San Bernardino, Clayton McCobb, 44, of Ramona and Kareem Mohammed Radwan, 26, of Loma Linda. But Lanteigne later changed his mind.
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County’s medical marijuana appeal denied by state Supreme Court

The California Supreme Court has denied an appeal filed by San Bernardino and San Diego counties challenging the state’s medical marijuana laws, according to the court’s web site.

The counties appealed a July 31 ruling from the state Court of Appeal which determined that a state law requiring counties to issue medical marijuana identification cards was constitutional.

San Bernardino County maintained that the state law is at odds with federal law, which criminalizes the drug. County officials had wanted the court to address the conflict.
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