Big Bear, Ca, May 10, 2011, 1:00pm – Three men were arrested this morning in San Bernardino County in a $102 million bribery scheme, according to the Attorney General’s Office. A fourth, former Supervisor Paul Biane, remains a fugitive from justice. The four individuals were indicted yesterday by the San Bernardino County Grand Jury on 29 counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, misappropriation of public funds, improper influence, conflict of interest, and additional charges. Mark Kirk, the former chief of staff for County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, James Erwin, the former Chief of Staff for County Supervisor Neil Derry, and Jeffery Burum, a general partner of Colonies Partners, L.P. all turned themselves in to authorities this morning, and were booked at Central Detention Center in San Bernardino. The current charges, according to the indictment, stem from a $102 million settlement approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2006 with the developer, Colonies, over flood control improvements on 434 acres of land in Upland. The indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in a corrupt scheme to obtain the settlement from the County. Erwin joined Burum in the conspiracy, the indictment says, and conveyed threats and/or inducements from Burum to William John Postmus (then chairman of the Board of Supervisors), Biane and Kirk. Erwin agreed to accept money in exchange for influencing the votes of Postmus and Biane. Kirk agreed to accept money to influence the vote of another member of the board. Postmus and Biane joined the conspiracy by agreeing to accept a bribe to approve the Colonies settlement. The bribes were $100,000 each. Postmus pleaded guilty in March to 14 felony counts including conspiracy to accept a bribe and conflict of interest. According to the Attorney General’s Office, he agreed to cooperate in the continuing investigation.
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