Friday, February 26, 2010

DeFazio charged with perjury before grand jury

Prosecutors allege DeFazio lied about Postmus' 'secretly controlled' PAC
February 26, 2010 8:29 AM
Natasha Lindstrom

VICTORVILLE • Investigators with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office arrested local developer John “Dino” DeFazio early Thursday on two felony perjury charges tied to alleged false testimony before the grand jury, as the biggest corruption scandal in county history continues to unfold.

DeFazio, 50, of Apple Valley was arrested at a residence around 7:10 a.m. and booked into Victor Valley Jail, according to booking logs. His bail was set at $50,000.

The California Attorney General and county DA jointly filed the two felony counts, which prosecutors said stem from sworn testimony DeFazio gave to the San Bernardino County Grand Jury in October 2009. The testimony related to a Political Action Committee “secretly controlled” by former 1st District Supervisor and county Assessor Bill Postmus.

Prosecutors allege DeFazio, owner of Artisan Real Estate and personal friend and real estate partner of Postmus, knowingly lied to the grand jury when he told them Postmus and former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman “had nothing to do with the administration” or direction of expenditures from the Inland Empire PAC.

If convicted, DeFazio could face up to four years in state prison.

The Inland Empire PAC is the tool that Postmus allegedly used to funnel a bribe from developers with Rancho Cucamonga-based Colonies Partners LP, according to a complaint filed by the DA.

On Feb. 10 prosecutors charged Postmus and former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin on felony charges relating to bribery, alleging they conspired with two Colonies developers to win a $102 million settlement from the county through corrupt means. Prosecutors allege the Colonies developers plotted to get a favorable settlement through threats, inducement, extortion and bribing county supervisors and top aides with $400,000, which was allegedly funneled through various PACs.

Three other alleged co-conspirators — including a current supervisor and chief of staff who allegedly accepted bribes — have not been charged.

Aleman, who agreed to testify against his colleagues in exchange for reducing his own six felony charges related to perjury before the grand jury, told prosecutors Postmus used DeFazio’s name as chair of the PAC, but Postmus and Aleman ran the committee and controlled its funds, including accepting a bribe from Colonies developers, according to court records.

DeFazio told the Daily Press on Feb. 10 that his PAC had raised over $300,000 and was not under the direct control of Postmus. He said Aleman may have had access to his e-mail address.

“I mean he helped me create an e-mail account. I think he had, you know, my password, and I think he night have sent some e-mails... but I had no involvement in that,” DeFazio said on Feb. 10.

DeFazio has called Aleman’s and investigators’ accusations “factually flawed and untruthful,” and Postmus has called prosecutors’ allegations “lies” that “will be proven wrong in the end.”

DeFazio’s arrest also comes just six days after DeFazio filed a civil claim against the county (click here to read the claim), Ramos and other prosecutors for violation of civil rights, slander, defamation, interference with business trade and more.

DA spokeswoman Susan Mickey said investigators in her office hadn't known about the claim, and even if they did it wouldn’t have affected Thursday’s charges.

Read Friday's Daily Press for the full story. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755

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