At a news conference on Wednesday at the District Attorney's office, State Attorney General Jerry Brown and District Attorney Michael A. Ramos announced bribery, conspiracy and extortion charges against two former county officials.
The Daily Bulletin reported that former San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus, 38, of Victorville and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, 47, of Highland were arrested on Wednesday morning and booked in jail with bails of $225,000 and $380,000 respectively. Prosecutors described this as the "biggest corruption scandal in San Bernardino County's history." They allegedly conspired to secure a $102 million dollar settlement to a land-use dispute between the county and a local developer Colonies Partners LP in November of 2006.
Brown said "What is significant here is the most appalling corruption case in decades, certainly in the history of San Bernardino County, maybe California itself." Individuals corrupted public office and were able to grab more than $100 million dollars of taxpayers' money through this scheme". The complaint alleges that colonies Partners LP bribed Postmus with promises of $100,000 dollar contribution in exchange for approving a settlement offer to end a four year legal battle. Erwin was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, corrupt influencing, offering a bribe to a supervisor, forgery and misappropriation of public funds.
Postmus was considered a rising star on the political scene in San Bernardino County a few years ago. He later was elected to the Assessors office and things fell apart. Postmus left his office in disgrace in 2008. Prior to leaving office, he went on medical leave for about 10 weeks. He later admitted to having an addiction to methamphetamines. He was charged in January 2009 with grand theft, misappropriation of public funds, perjury and drug possession in connection with the scandal of the Assessor's office. Log on to www.dailybulletin for more on the corruption case.