Well, State and County Prosecutors promised to uncover the scandal in the “Colonies Corruption Case” and they did not disappoint.
Unfortunately, the scandal they exposed is that they are the perpetrators of a crime.
After seven months and dozens of witnesses, the brilliant prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office and District Attorney Mike Ramos’ office failed to provide any evidence of any crime.
Certainly there was much huffing and puffing, accusatory and derogatory language by prosecutors against the defendants and defense attorneys, and shenanigans that would be great theatre in a bad “Matlock” rerun, but not a single shred of evidence of bribery or any other crime.
The prosecution’s case is so void of evidence, and the prosecutions witness testimony so damaged under cross examination, that Defense Attorneys declined to even put a defense case forward to the jury. And when the announcement was made, the Judge told the jury that they could applaud! And THEY DID!
Not only did the prosecution fail to provide any evidence, many of their witnesses were impeached by defense attorneys, including current County Supervisor Josie Gonzalez, current Assistant County Counsel Mitch Norton, and key witness and former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman.
Other key prosecution witnesses, disgraced former County Supervisor and Assessor Bill Postmus, and former Chief of Staff to defendant Paul Biane, Matt Brown, openly contradicted their prior testimony to the indicting Grand Jury and accused prosecutors and their investigators of witness intimidation in order to plant false testimony against the four defendants.
Every piece of evidence used by prosecutors before the criminal Grand Jury to gain indictments against the defendants has been completely rebutted, if not impeached.
San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzalez was nearly laughed off the witness stand as her Grand Jury testimony about Jeff Burum stalking her on a trip to China was rebutted. When she was presented with Burum’s passport that proved he was never in China during that time period, she even went so far as to state that he might have evaded customs by flying his own private jet to China in order to stalk her.
The Judge formally declared Supervisor Gonzalez impeached, outside the presence of the jury, and cut off the defense from further cross-examination.
But the case gets even worse for prosecutors. Witnesses that were brought before the initial Grand Jury told the indicting body that the original $102 million Colonies settlement was “unjustified” and a “gift of public funds.” Prosecutors, of course only asked for the thoughts of the witnesses at the time of the settlement in 2009. Witnesses did not disclose that they had since changed their position and were now of the opinion that they were wrong, that the settlement saved the county as much as $220 million, and that the county was in the midst of recovering the initial settlement from their insurance, which has been occurring in binding arbitration since 2010.
Prosecutors, after denying it numerous times, finally admitted in court that they were fully aware of the County’s position that the settlement was justified, and of the successful efforts to recoup the losses, but they failed to disclose this to the Grand Jury.
In this fiasco of a trial, everything has become blatantly clear. Prosecutors and their investigators intimidated witnesses in order to cajole false testimony. Prosecutors were fully aware of the legitimacy of the initial $102 million dollar settlement, the successful defense of it, and recovery of funds from insurance by the county, but failed to disclose it to the Grand Jury and the public. Prosecutors knowingly allowed and encouraged the presentation of false testimony from witnesses to be presented to both the Grand Jury and the current trial jury.
Experts are quietly saying that they haven’t seen anything like this since the McMartin Preschool and Duke Lacrosse cases.
It appears that after eight years, and months of this trial, that there actually are some real crimes. Manufacturing a fake criminal case against innocent persons is a crime.
Perhaps it is time for the United States Attorney General to clean house.