Four years. Yes, it has been nearly four years since San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and then Attorney General Jerry Brown announced the prosecution of the “greatest corruption scandal in the history of California.”
That was soon followed by Grand Jury indictments of Developer Jeff Burum, former County Supervisor Paul Biane, former Supervisor Gary Ovitt Chief of Staff Mark Kirk, and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin. Soon following this, were wanted posters, perp walks, multimillion dollar bail amounts, and other outrageous actions usually reserved for murderers and child molesters.
It wasn’t long before many of the charges were thrown out on demur, a legal challenge rarely upheld by judges at the preliminary stages of a legal case, which were appealed all the way up to the California Supreme Court. Less covered by the media, during this time, the defendants bail was eliminated, their ankle bracelets removed, and they are free on their own recognizance; not what you would expect for the crime of the century?
Now, the trial judge has agreed to accept motions for dismissal from defendant’s attorneys based on misconduct by prosecutors. This will occur Monday, January 27th and it will all be available to the press and the public for the very first time!
It will be very interesting to see the evidence put forward by lead defense attorney and former Federal Prosecutor and Judge Stephen Larson. Expect it to be meticulous and thorough. Expect fireworks!
And if any of the accusations of misconduct are factual and severe, it will be a very long 2014 for District Attorney Mike Ramos, up for re-election in June.
It will also be a very difficult time for San Bernardino County Supervisors who dismissed the Colonies civil litigation against CALTRANS, SANBAG, and the City of Upland to the tune of almost $200 million (original settlement, interest, and attorney’s fees) of County taxpayer money. Remember, the Board of Supervisors walked away from the civil litigation because of the “corruption charges” while Attorneys representing the County in the civil litigation were confidently pressing the litigation forward.
Defense attorneys do not make the accusations of prosecutorial misconduct unless they have significant evidence, particularly an attorney who was a Federal Prosecutor and United States District Court Judge.
We wait with bated breath, and so should our friends in County Government who may be facing another big payout if the accusations are true.