Former assistant assessor testifies at Colonies trial that county officials were pressured by developer

SAN BERNARDINO >> Former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman testified Wednesday at the Colonies corruption trial that Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum promised to politically support other defendants in the case if they delivered a legal settlement of more than $100 million to his investor group, Colonies Partners LP.

“Mr. Burum said as soon as the Colonies settlement is over everyone would be taken care of politically,” Aleman said during Wednesday’s testimony.

And Burum was dead-set on a settlement sum of no less than $100 million, Aleman said.

“Mr. Burum was emphatically looking for over $100 million,” Aleman said.

Aleman’s testimony followed that of his former boss, former county Board of Supervisors Chairman and Assessor Bill Postmus, in the far-reaching public corruption case in which prosecutors allege Burum bribed three former county officials into settling a longstanding lawsuit with his real estate investor group, Colonies Partners LP., in November 2006 for a landmark $102 million. Burum sued the county on behalf of Colonies in March 2002 over flood control improvements at Colonies’ 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively.

Aleman worked for Postmus as an assistant assessor, and like Postmus he is testifying under a plea agreement with prosecutors in the six-year-old case.

Aleman agreed to secretly record conversations as part of his cooperation with investigators, and Postmus, whom Aleman testified he has not spoken to in five years, texted Aleman with the following message in 2010 after learning he was cooperating with district attorney investigators: “You will always be known as a liar.”

But unlike Postmus, Aleman in his first day of testimony under questioning by Deputy Attorney General Melissa Mandel in Judge Michael A. Smith’s San Bernardino courtroom stuck with the prosecution’s narrative of the Colonies case.

Prosecutors allege Colonies Partners, of which Burum is a co-managing partner, contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political action committees within a year of the settlement that directly benefitted the defendants.

Postmus, whose affiliated PACs received a total of $100,000 from Colonies Partners, insisted during his eight-plus days on the witness stand that he never considered the money a bribe, that Burum never crossed the line into bribery, and he knew nothing of the PAC contributions until after the settlement.


Aleman described Postmus as a “cheerleader lobbying for the Colonies settlement,” saying Postmus was honored when he became the “point man” to help deliver a settlement after years of contentious litigation, which included two trials resulting in favorable outcomes for Colonies Partners.

He described attending six to 12 different 2006 meetings between Postmus and Burum at several…

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