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State to join San Bernardino County corruption probe

The investigation was launched by the district attorney. Former Assessor Bill Postmus and four ex-employees have been arrested, Postmus on drug charges.

August 18, 2009|David Kelly

The state attorney general's office will join an expanding probe of political corruption in San Bernardino County centered largely on the past activities of the assessor's office, officials said Monday.

So far the investigation has led to the arrest of former Assessor Bill Postmus and four former employees in his office.

Allegations include using the assessor's staff to do political work, forgery, grand theft, perjury and failure to report gifts from a developer. Postmus was arrested in January on drug charges.

All five defendants are now out of jail and awaiting trial.

Dist. Atty. Michael Ramos asked Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown for help in the case. He needs the investigators, but he also is seeking to neutralize critics who allege that his probe is politically motivated.

James Erwin, a former assistant assessor who was arrested and charged with 10 felonies, said Ramos engaged in sexual harassment and misconduct with women in the D.A.'s office. One woman recently filed a claim against the district attorney. San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry, Erwin's former boss, has called for an investigation.

Ramos has said it was all an effort to derail his investigation.

"One important aspect in this is that our integrity has been attacked. There have been claims that we are motivated by politics and that the D.A. has had sexual liaisons," Assistant Dist. Atty. James Hackleman said. "I think the fact that the attorney general is coming into this is a strong indication that they support our investigation."

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david.kelly@latimes.com

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