"We are very opposed to the state's strategy of delay," said Stephen Larson, who represents developer Jeff Burum. "There are critical issues involving the statute of limitations and evidentiary and other problems with the grand jury indictment that need to be addressed in the trial court."
Burum is accused of conspiring with three former county officials to secure a $102million legal settlement from the county in exchange for bribes. Also charged are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt.
All four defendants deny any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors allege Burum and Erwin used strong-arm tactics such as extortion, threats and bribes to persuade the county officials to approve the landmark settlement with Burum's investor group, Colonies Partners LP, in November 2006.
The settlement ended a four-year legal battle over who was responsible for construction of a flood-control basin on Colonies' 434-acre parcel in Upland where the investor group was bankrolling a sprawling residential and commercial development.
On Monday, the state Attorney General's Office, which is jointly prosecuting the case with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, sent the petition to the state's highest court via an overnight courier.
The petition seeks the high court's review of the 4th District Court of Appeal's unpublished Oct. 31 decision, which rejected prosecutors' request to reinstate the four bribery charges against Burum initially dismissed by San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville.
The state appellate court also reinstated a charge of misappropriation of public funds against Burum but dismissed a conflict-of-interest charge McCarville initially let stand. In addition, the appellate court reinstated a charge of misappropriation of public funds against Biane, Kirk, and Erwin initially dismissed by McCarville.
District attorney's spokesman Christopher Lee said in an email Friday that it would be inappropriate for his office to comment on a pending case.
Larson said he doesn't believe there is any need for the state Supreme Court to review the case.
"Further delay in this case only adds to the prejudice being suffered by Mr. Burum," Larson said.
Attorneys for the other defendants are likely to join Larson in his opposition.
Erwin's attorney, Rajan Maline, said Friday that that is his intention.
"I don't think that there's any merit to their petition," Maline said. "The consensus is we want to get back to the trial court and we want to vindicate our clients, and we can't do that if the prosecution keeps appealing."
The criminal proceedings remain suspended until the Supreme Court decides whether it will grant the prosecutors' petition, which will likely occur within the next 60 days, defense attorneys say.
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