$102 Million Bribery Scandal Rocks San Bernardino: Former County Supervisor Paul Biane Said to be a Fugitive
Updated after the jump with reaction from the San Bernardino League of Women Voters president, who says locals are sick of the years of corruption allegations there.
What is this, New Jersey?
Four people, including three San Bernardino County public officials, have been indicted in a $102 million bribery scheme, according to state Attorney General Kamala Harris.
One of the illustrious indictees, former county Supervisor Paul Biane, can not be located and is considered a fugitive in the case.
The others caught up in the case include Mark Kirk, a former chief of staff for county Supervisor Gary Ovitt, James Erwin, the county's former assistant assessor, and developer Jeffrey Burum, whose Colonies Parnters, prosecutors allege, was the recipient of a $102 million settlement from the county received, in part, through $100,000 bribes.
The defendants face charges ranging from bribery to misappropriation of public funds.
The three men above were arrested and booked and all faced bail amounts above $1 million.
More to come ...
Added: The 29-count indictment was handed down yesterday by a grand jury, according to Harris' office.
The three in custody turned themselves in this morning, her office stated.
Biane was "charged with misappropriation of public funds, filing a fraudulent tax return, perjury, filing a false instrument, and two counts of bribery," according to the A.G.'s statement.
Kirk faced charges of "bribery, improper influence, forgery, filing a fraudulent tax return, willful failure to file a tax return, four counts of perjury, three counts of filing a false instrument, and four counts involving bribery."
Burum got hit with four counts of bribery related charges.
A slice of the I.E.
Exact charges for Erwin weren't listed, by the A.G.'s office alleged he "agreed to accept money in exchange for influencing the votes of Postmus and Biane" in the 2006 settlement that handed $102 million in public funds to the developer for flood control improvements in Upland.
Kirk also allegedly "agreed to accept money to influence the vote of another member of the board. And [board chairman William John] Postmus and Biane joined the conspiracy by agreeing to accept a bribe to approve the Colonies settlement."
Postmus, Biane, Kirk and Erwin all got $100,000 bribes, according to the indictment. Postmus pleaded guilty to bribery and conflict of interest and has been helping prosecutors, according to the A.G.
Burum allegedly influenced "members of the Board of Supervisors through a combination of threats, extortion, inducements and bribery, in order to secure their vote in favor of a settlement," according to the Attorney Genera's statement.
Attorney General Kamala Harris:
When public officials act corruptly, every Californian is their victim. Let the San Bernardino indictments send a strong message that we will never tolerate this sort of abuse of the public trust.
Update: Gloria Anderson, president of the San Benardino County League of Women Voters says corruption allegations have plagued the board of supervisors for at least the 25 years she's been watching.
She says she hopes this is the last of the indictments so that public officials can get on with the business of running one of California's largest counties.
"It's effecting the current board and their ability to run the county government effectively," Anderson tells the Weekly. "People don't trust them."
"This has been going on for far too many years and we're looking forward to the end of it. I hope that this is the beginning of the end of all of this intrigue. We're still watching and hoping."
First posted at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10.
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