Second Burum Federal Lawsuit Alleges Falsified Evidence & Malicious Prosecution

Augmenting a previous $80 million federal suit the Colonies Partners development consortium filed against San Bernardino County, state and county prosecutors, county officials and witnesses in March, Colonies Partners managing principal Jeff Burum this week 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, prosecutors Lewis Cope and Melissa Mandel, former assistant district attorney Jim Hackleman, district attorney’s office investigators Robert Schreiber and Hollis Randles, and county supervisor Josie Gonzales.
In a vein similar to the previous suit, Burum asserts overzealousness and retaliatory motives on the part of prosecutors, who he claims used fabricated evidence in accusing him of involvement in an extortion and bribery conspiracy in which he and former sheriff’s union president/assistant county assessor Jim Erwin were alleged to have first blackmailed and then bribed former supervisors Bill Postmus and Paul Biane to force them in 2006 into a $102 million settlement of a lawsuit the Colonies Partners had filed against the county and its flood control district in 2002. Postmus pleaded guilty to accepting two $50,000 bribes from Burum and the Colonies Partners, but a trial against Burum, Biane, Erwin and Mark Kirk, who had been the chief of staff to the supervisor, Gary Ovitt, whose third vote was crucial to approving the $102 million settlement, ended in August and September, first with the acquittal of Burum, Biane and Kirk by the jury hearing the case against them and secondly with another jury considering the case against Erwin deadlocking on all counts. On a motion by prosecutors, the case against Erwin was dismissed.
According to Burum’s attorneys Stephen Larson and Jonathan Phillips, prosecutors and the government abused their official power to retaliate against Burum for having pursued and prevailed in civil litigation against the county by means of a prosecution that grew out of an investigation that had no probable cause.
The county’s attorney, Charles E. Slyngstad, maintains that the assertion by Burum and his attorneys that prosecutors pursued a case that was based upon falsified evidence and perjured testimony “is made without a good faith belief that it is true.”

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