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Charges won't be filed in land deal

San Bernardino County district attorney says lack of evidence means no prosecution of ex-aide to supervisor.

December 19, 2006|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

San Bernardino County prosecutors announced Monday that they had insufficient evidence for criminal charges in a land deal involving Supervisor Dennis Hansberger's former chief of staff.

An investigation failed to turn up convincing evidence that Jim Foster had bought county land through an intermediary, according to a statement from the district attorney's office. The county has barred officials from using middlemen in land deals since 2001, when policy changes were enacted after county corruption scandals. Foster resigned his post last year.

"To pursue a prosecution, our office must be able to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." Dist. Atty. Michael A. Ramos said in the statement. "Despite a thorough investigation and review, we simply do not have that level of proof in this matter."

At issue was whether Foster used an intermediary to buy four-tenths of an acre of surplus county property in 2002.

The disputed parcel, which the county had acquired in 1981, is zoned for single-family homes in Redlands.

In 2001, the county sold the property to former GOP Assemblyman Brett Granlund of Yucaipa and his wife, Lonni; and Louis and Amy Curti. Granlund works for Platinum Advisors LLC, a firm that lobbies for San Bernardino County in Sacramento.

A year later, Foster and his wife, Linda, bought the Granlunds' portion of the property for $10,000. The entire parcel was valued at $37,000 in 2002.

The Fosters and the Curtis sold it two years later for $100,000, county records show.

Brett Granlund said he acted as Foster's agent during the deal; however, Foster said he bought the land only because the Granlunds wanted to sell their share.

Special counsel Leonard Gumport, a Los Angeles County attorney, conducted a separate probe for the county that ended last year. He also found insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges.

The district attorney's investigation consisted of re-interviewing several people Gumport had contacted and the issuing of several search warrants.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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