Three of the four defendants in the San Bernardino County-Colonies corruption case were found not guilty of all charges on Monday, after a marathon trial that lasted nearly eight months.
Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum and two former county officials — former Supervisor Paul Biane, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for then-county Supervisor Gary Ovitt — were charged with bribery, conflict of interest and improper influence in an alleged scheme to get county approval of a $102 million court settlement in favor of a developer. A separate jury for a fourth defendant, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, continued deliberations on Monday.
According to the Sun:
Jennifer Keller, one of the state’s top white collar criminal defense attorneys and one of Burum’s lawyers, said the jury was able to return so quickly with unanimous verdicts, after a little more than a day of deliberating, because there was no evidence proving the defendants’ guilt.
“Had they had evidence to chew over, real evidence of guilt, or evidence that could even be construed as evidence of guilt, it would have taken them awhile (to deliberate), but there wasn’t any,” Keller said, adding that jurors were particularly troubled by the testimony of former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman, who admitted to lying to the grand jury and authorities,and county Supervisor Josie Gonzales, who was impeached several times regarding a 2006 China trip in which she alleged to have seen Burum, who was not in China at the time and produced a passport to prove it.