Citing Destruction Of Evidence, Colonies Attorney Calls For Indictment Dismissal

The attorney for Jeff Burum, the lead defendant in the Colonies Lawsuit Settlement Public Corruption Prosecution, has filed a motion alleging prosecutors destroyed evidence and calling for the dismissal of the case.
Prosecutors allege Burum paid former supervisors Bill Postmus and Paul Biane, former sheriff’s deputy union president Jim Erwin and Mark Kirk, the chief of staff to former supervisor Gary Ovitt, $100,000 bribes in the form of political contributions to obtain in 2006 a $102 million settlement of a lawsuit relating to flood control issues Burum’s company, the Colonies Partners, filed against the county.
In a motion filed May 13 in San Bernardino Superior Court, Larson, a former federal judge, alleged email exchanges between former Deputy California Attorney General Gary Schons and former county counsel Ruth Stringer and deputy county counsel Mitch Norton dealt with issues that threw into doubt the validity of the charges against Burum, Biane, Erwin and Kirk.
According to the motion, prosecutors maintain the emails in question were destroyed and they have not been produced. The district attorney’s office, according to the motion, initially asserted “the People were never obligated to produce” the emails. .
The prosecution has not disputed that the emails existed or that they contain potentially exculpatory information, but the California Attorney General’s Office indicated that it has a 90-day policy for retaining emails until they are automatically destroyed.
“Due process requires the state preserve evidence in its possession where
it is reasonable to expect the evidence would play a significant role in the defense,” Larson’s motion states. “Because the People have again chosen to stonewall, deny, and refuse even to represent that the destruction of relevant emails was made… Mr. Burum respectfully requests that the Court grant this motion and dismiss the indictment in its entirety as a result of the Attorney General’s destruction of exculpatory evidence.”
Prosecutors were unavailable for comment.

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