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$75 Million federal law suits against SB County, DA Ramos, and state

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Google Image: Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum has sued San Bernardino County and the state in federal court alleging malicious prosecution in connection with the ill-fated Colonies bribery case. Burum, who along with two co-defendants were acquitted last August on all charges, is seeking no less than $50 million in damages [The Sun].

 

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Photo The Sun: Jim Erwinsmiling during a September court hearing where it was announced he… filed a $25 million claim against the county on Tuesday alleging, among other things, malicious prosecution. — S.B. Sun

Rancho Cucamonga developer files $50 million federal lawsuit against San Bernardino County, state prosecutors

By JOE NELSON | jnelson@scng.com | San Bernardino Sun
PUBLISHED: April 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm | UPDATED: April 3, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum has filed a $50 million malicious prosecution lawsuit in federal court against San Bernardino County, District Attorney Mike Ramos and former state Attorneys General Kamala Harris and Jerry Brown.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, April 2, in U.S. District Court in Riverside, Burum contends his prosecution was retaliatory and that prosecutors fabricated evidence to use against him at his trial, which ended in August 2017, when jurors acquitted Burum and co-defendants Paul Biane, a former county supervisor, and Mark Kirk, who had been chief of staff to former county supervisor Gary Ovitt. The judge dismissed all charges against the fourth defendant, former assistant assessor Jim Erwin, a month later after his jury deadlocked and prosecutor Lewis Cope said there were “unresolvable witness issues.”

Other defendants in Burum’s lawsuit include Colonies prosecutors Cope and Supervising Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel, former assistant district attorney Jim Hackleman, district attorney investigators Robert Schreiber and Hollis “Bud” Randles, and county Supervisor Josie Gonzales, among others.

It is the second federal lawsuit filed in connection with the ill-fated Colonies corruption case, in which state and local prosecutors alleged Burum conspired with his co-defendants to secure a $102 million legal settlement between Burum’s real estate investor group, Colonies Partners LP, and the county in November 2006 in exchange for bribes. The settlement, in Colonies’ favor, ended longstanding and contentious litigation over flood-control improvements at Colonies Partners’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

“Mr. Burum’s claims are based on an illegal campaign of retaliation, intimidation, and harassment by the County and the State of California, via their employees,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges that, following Colonies Partners prevailing in the original Colonies’ civil litigation that spanned from 2002 through 2006, the defendants targeted Colonies through an unfounded investigation of its two managing partners without justification or probable cause. The criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution, according to the lawsuit, was punishment for Burum exercising his Constitutional rights to sue the county and speak out publicly about the litigation and push for a settlement.

“You don’t get to destroy a part of someone’s life by manipulating evidence and eliciting false testimony as both the DA and Attorney General did in this case and then just walk away,” Burum’s attorney, Stephen G. Larson, said in a statement Tuesday. “This lawsuit is about accountability and justice, both of which went AWOL in this case.”

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, Colonies Partners filed a federal lawsuit seeking $80 million in damages, alleging the ill-fated criminal case damaged its reputation.

Los Angeles attorney Charles E. Slyngstad, who is representing the county in the litigation, did not return telephone calls Tuesday seeking comment. Last week, he spoke out in a press release  against the Colonies Partners lawsuit, saying that the acquittal of Burum and his co-defendants “is not a vindication of their conduct.” He said the county was “looking forward to an opportunity to show in this civil case that Colonies and Mr. Burum acted inappropriately and continue to act inappropriately in influencing politics for their own financial gain and windfall.”

Burum said in a statement Tuesday, “It’s a shame that we taxpayers continue to pay dearly for the wrongful conduct of those who can only be held accountable in the courtroom or on Election Day.”

Larson, who also represents Colonies Partners in its lawsuit, filed a notice with the court on Monday, along with the lawsuit, requesting the same judge be assigned to hear both cases, given their similarities.

S.B. Sun Link

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