San Bernardino County Sheriff Candidates to Participate in June 1 Forum in Big Bear

The California Statewide Direct Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, June 8, and those voters who plan to request a vote-by-mail ballot have until June 1 to do so. In addition to five statewide measures on the June 8 ballot, San Bernardino County voters will have opportunity to vote for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (currently Dr. Gary Thomas) and County Sheriff.

Current Sheriff for the County Rod Hoops, who in February 2009 assumed the role of outgoing Sheriff Gary Penrod, will be in Big Bear on June 1st to participate alongside Sheriff candidates and Deputy Sheriffs Paul Schrader and Mark Averbeck in a forum hosted by the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce and the Democratic Club of Big Bear Valley.

The Tuesday, June 1st candidates forum, to be held at the Municipal Water District offices at 40524 Lakeview Drive at 6:30pm, is also scheduled to include candidate for Tax Collector Ensen Mason, running against incumbent Larry Walker, and both candidates for County Assessor, current Assessor appointee Dennis Draeger and Alfred Castorena Palazzo. The San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters office can be reached at 387-8300 or via

Derry’s controversial team—continued

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Derry buys more police protection

Another Nazi Pig Comes to Town: San Bernardino County supervisor hires controversial activist

Last week, The Alpenhorn News revealed that Third District Supervisor Neil Derry had appointed Wanda Nowicki to his staff as an administrative analyst, even though her background check had revealed a criminal history.

At the time, the fact that Nowicki had no special background to qualify for the position raised skepticism. Revelations regarding her criminal background were further exacerbated when documents obtained by The Alpenhorn News revealed that Jim Erwin, Derry’s chief of staff at the time of Nowicki’s appointment, had advised the Director of Human Resources not to share or disclose the contents and findings of her criminal background check to anyone.

Information about Nowicki’s criminal background once again called into question many of Derry’s choices to fill key staff positions. It began when he named Erwin as his chief of staff. He made this choice despite Erwin’s reputation within the county as a polarizing and controversial figure.

Erwin is infamous for his alleged 2004 affair with ex-county labor negotiator Elizabeth Sanchez who lost her job when she admitted to being romantically involved with Erwin, who at the time was the leader and chief negotiator for the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association (SEBA). The affair is alleged to have occurred at the same time the two negotiated from opposite sides, a new labor contract between SEBA and the county.

Sanchez was promoted to the position of director of human resources. However, rumors about the affair were well known. When initially confronted about it by the county’s chief administrative officer, she denied it but ultimately admitted to the relationship a short time later and was asked to resign. There was no apparent consequence for Erwin’s involvement.

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CNN poll confirms: Most Americans believe their government is a threat to their welfare

A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.

According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken – though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what’s broken can be fixed.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 12-15, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall survey.

Supervisors order surveillance sweeps for ‘bugs’

SAN BERNARDINO – County supervisors spent $22,500 last month to sweep their offices and other parts of the government center for secret recording devices and other hidden surveillance equipment.

The first sweep of the fourth and fifth floors of the county building occurred Jan. 23, and the purchase order provides for four more sweeps at undisclosed future dates.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Ovitt, who requested the counter-surveillance, declined a request for an interview Friday. But a county spokesman insisted the sweeps had nothing to do with an ongoing government corruption scandal that has implicated the offices of Ovitt, Paul Biane and former supervisor Bill Postmus.

“This is something the county periodically does and the county was doing this long before there was a (District Attorney’s) investigation,” David Wert said.

In all, Wert said, the county has spent $42,865 on sweeps in recent years but refused to disclose when previous sweeps occurred.

Last week, District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and state Attorney General Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr., announced criminal charges against Postmus and former assistant assessor Jim Erwin in a wide-ranging corruption case.

Court documents also allege Biane and Ovitt’s chief of staff Mark Kirk – identified as John Does – accepted $100,000 bribes to secure a $102 million settlement payment for developer Colonies Partners LP of Rancho Cucamonga.

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Former San Bernardino County assessor’s employee held for trial

A former San Bernardino County official must stand trial on corruption charges stemming from a probe at the assessor’s office, a superior court judge ruled Friday.

Judge Duke Rouse found that there was enough evidence to try Rex Gutierrez on charges of grand theft and misappropriation of public funds. The two felony counts carry a sentence of up to four years in prison.

Gutierrez, a Rancho Cucamonga city councilman, is one of five former assessor’s officials arrested in a corruption investigation of the office under former Assessor Bill Postmus, who also is facing felony charges.

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Gerald Celente Interview – Words of wisdom

Gerald Celente in Wikipedia

Trends Research Institute

Trends Journal

Woman files $1.5 million claim against San Bernardino County DA

A Redlands woman whose sexual harassment complaint against San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos triggered an investigation is seeking $1.5 million in a claim filed Wednesday.

Cheryl Ristow, an investigative technician with the district attorney’s office, states that she was involved in a 17-month intimate relationship with Ramos that ended in 2005. She claims that she was retaliated against starting in May when it appeared that the affair would be publicly revealed, and has been on stress leave since July as a result.

Ramos issued a brief statement Thursday denying the allegations.

“I continue to vigorously deny these false and politically-motivated accusations and look forward to the truth coming out in a court of law,” he said.

In a phone interview Thursday, Ristow said, “I stand behind my story 100 percent.”

The county began an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation in August when an employee in the office came forward with a complaint against Ramos. Ristow’s claim identifies herself as the person who came forward with the complaint.

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Uffer Era Ends on a 3-2 Vote

Mark H. Uffer’s five-year tenure as the county’s top administrative officer drew to a close this week with a 3-2 vote of the board of supervisors.

The sacking of Uffer, who was named interim county administrative officer in March 2004 and then given the official title as CAO in September 2004, was not done for cause, the county board members said. Rather, the three supervisors who favored having him take his leave said it was simply a matter of their changing management and policy imperatives rendering him out of step with their collective marching orders that sealed Uffer’s fate.

“The board felt it was necessary to move in a different direction at this time.” said board of supervisors chairman Gary Ovitt, who joined with supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt and Neil Derry in approving the motion to terminate Uffer.

“The board felt it was a time for a change in leadership and direction and that is why the board made this change,” said Derry. “Despite the end result of the vote, I believe Mark Uffer has done his best for the county.”

Since no cause was cited in giving Uffer his pink slip, he will be granted a full year’s pay and benefits as a severance package, as per the terms of an ordinance passed by the board in January.

Thus, Uffer will be paid his annual salary of $273,748 and about $50,000 more in deferred compensation and benefits, including cell phone, car allowance, retirement plan contributions and health insurance. Those payments will run through November 16, 2010. Thereafter, Uffer, 56, will be eligible to begin drawing retirement.

Multiple efforts by the Sentinel to reach Uffer for his reaction were unsuccessful. A secretary at the county administrative office on Wednesday said, “I do not believe we are at liberty to provide you with his contact number at this point.”

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The California Fair Political Practices Commission Opens Probe of DA Mike Ramos

The California Fair Political Practices Commission has opened an investigation into San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos relating to his failure to properly report income provided to his wife, the Sentinel has learned.

The matter under investigation, according to sources who were instrumental in bringing the relevant information to the attention of the Sacramento-based political watchdog, pertains to $10,000 provided to Gretchen Ramos from the Friends of Mike Ramos campaign committee last year.

According to the California Form 460 campaign finance disclosure document Mike Ramos filed with the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters office on July 30, 2008 covering the period between January 1, 2008 and June 30, 2008, The Friends of Mike Ramos paid Gretchen Ramos $10,000 for “campaign services” and $124.64 in reimbursement money for a “CDAA [California District Attorneys Association] dinner.”

Gretchen Ramos is Mike Ramos’ wife of 28 years.

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County Extends Contract with Corruption Figure’s Firm

The county has extended by one year the contract it has with its Sacramento lobbyist, Platinum Advisors, despite a scandal involving the company and its simultaneous representation of the county and a company from whom the county purchased the Adelanto jail for $31.2 million in 2005.

After whispers of the double dealing involving former Assemblyman and Platinum Advisors employee Brett J. Granlund relating to the county’s purchase of the Maranatha Correctional Facility in Adelanto were heard, the county detailed Los Angeles-based attorney Leonard Gumport to look into the matter. In July 2006 Gumport’s finding was publicly released, indicating that Granlund had used his position of trust as a county lobbyist to suggest to the county’s top officials that they should purchase the prison without disclosing to them that he and his firm represented the jail’s owner.

Gumport reached the conclusion that Granlund, by participating in the negotiations for the sale of the jail, inappropriately benefited from the deal.

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Former Corrupt San Bernardino County DA says he may run against Ramos

Former San Bernardino County District Attorney Dennis Stout announced Wednesday that he is considering running for his old job in 2010 — challenging District Attorney Mike Ramos, who defeated him in 2002.

Stout, who served as the county’s top prosecutor for eight years, said he believes political corruption is worse than when he left office and that Ramos spends too much time on politics.

He accused Ramos of inserting himself into the criminal probes of five former assessor’s officials and jeopardizing the cases.

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State to join San Bernardino County corruption probe

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.

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Postmus files claim against county

SAN BERNARDINO – Former Assessor Bill Postmus filed a claim against San Bernardino County on Wednesday, alleging, among other things, civil rights violations, breach of contract and malicious prosecution related to criminal and civil cases pending against him.Postmus, 38, who resigned from his elected office on Feb. 13 amid allegations of drug possession, drug abuse and corruption in his office, alleges that his resignation was contingent on an oral agreement that an internal investigation into alleged malfeasance in his office would end upon his resignation.

The former assessor also alleges that county officials assured him they wouldn’t sue him if he resigned and would not oppose an effort by him to seek unemployment benefits.

Since his resignation, the county has sued Postmus, three of his top executive staffers and a political consultant hired to do public relations work for the office in an effort to recoup hundreds of thousands of misspent taxpayer dollars lost to alleged timecard fraud.

The District Attorney’s Office has charged him with grand theft, misappropriation of public money, perjury and drug possession.

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Ramos Accused

SAN BERNARDINO – A District Attorney’s Office employee who claims she had a 17-month affair with District Attorney Michael A. Ramos said Thursday that she has lodged a sexual harassment complaint against him with the county’s human resources department.

The complaint comes in the wake of a call by San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry for an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Ramos.

The allegations, raised over the past two months, have appeared in a weekly tabloid newspaper, complaints filed by targets of an ongoing corruption investigation and online blog postings.

Ramos has denied any wrongdoing and says the allegations of impropriety are a politically motivated attempt to undermine his office’s investigation into corruption in county government.

The woman, who has worked for the District Attorney’s Office for seven years, asked that her name be withheld as she is the alleged victim of sexual harassment.

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Truth & consequences

Investigators bold enough to take on corruption in San Bernardino County have themselves seldom escaped controversy.Some have been criticized by the same leaders who hired them. For others, the stakes have been even higher.

Former District Attorney Dennis Stout, 61, says his political career was upended in large part because he lost support from power brokers when he went after corrupt county officials.

He sees a distinct pattern of county officials bashing the people they commission to clean up corruption.

“It’s not just the way these investigators are attacked, it’s the politics of this county,” Stout said. “It’s a bloody knife fight.”

Stout prosecuted former Supervisor Jerry Eaves on bribery charges before the case was handed over to the state Attorney General’s Office when it was discovered that Stout and two of his top aides discussed their investigation into Eaves with one of his political foes.

The District Attorney’s Office was cleared of acting illegally, but Stout bowed out of a 2002 re-election bid when he fell behind his opponent, then-Deputy District Attorney Michael Ramos.

The scandal surrounding the Eaves investigation and a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Stout were big contributors to his downfall, he said.

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Web of corruption

The county’s most extensively documented scandal, and the one that many consider to be one of the most egregious abuses of power in the county’s history, began in the 1990s and became public in 1998, when County Administrative Officer James Hlawek resigned and the Board of Supervisors announced the FBI was investigating him.Gary Ovitt, current chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the Hlawek scandal was a watershed event for the county in that it served as the impetus for a complete overhaul of the county’s leadership team and the creation of a long list of reforms. It also prompted the county to greatly increase its transparency to the public.

“The scandal also branded the county as a place with deep-seated ethical problems, and every misstep that has occurred since has been viewed by the news media and the public through the prism of the Hlawek scandal,” Ovitt said. “Newspaper editorials habitually refer to the county as a place with a `history of scandal,’ based largely on the legacy of the Hlawek scandal. This has served to make the county all the more vigilant to prevent ethical lapses and corruption whenever possible and quickly address issues as they arise.”

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County supervisor says rumors about DA should be investigated

PDF: Read San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry’s statement

Special Section: San Bernardino Co. Probe

San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry on Thursday called for an independent investigation of allegations that District Attorney Mike Ramos has engaged in improper behavior.

Derry said he is troubled by rumors that have been swirling in recent months that Ramos may have been involved in improper relationships with subordinates and colleagues, including Public Defender Doreen Boxer.

Derry said he is not suggesting the rumors are true but believes they merit investigation.

“As long as they’re circulating, they create an issue where there’s a lack of public trust,” Derry said.

A statement issued in response by district attorney’s spokeswoman Susan Mickey said: “This office is astounded.”

Ramos denied the allegations as baseless.

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San Bernardino supervisors are skeptical of Grand Jury reform recommendations

Members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors weighed in Thursday on the Grand Jury’s recommendations for limits on campaign contributions and establishment of an ethics commission to help thwart corruption and the perception of it.

The Grand Jury’s 2008-2009 report released Wednesday included for the first time a special section on proposed governmental reform.

After learning that the Board of Supervisors raised more than $2.3 million, collectively, over a five-year period from special interest groups, land developers and others, the panel recommended the county put a cap on campaign contributions.

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D.A. investigators pay visit to County Government Center

Investigators from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office paid a visit Wednesday to the fifth floor of the San Bernardino County Government Center on Arrowhead Avenue, said Lynne Fischer, a county spokeswoman.

Investigators have launched “multiple investigations” on current and former county officials based on various tips they received in the last year. Perhaps the biggest investigation surrounds alleged malfeasance at the Assessor’s Office under the reign of former Assessor Bill Postmus.

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Handheld stealth

New technology should not be a tool for subverting citizens’ power to monitor government actions. San Bernardino County‘s example shows the need for cities and counties to ensure that all communications about official business are open to public scrutiny.

County special counsel John Hueston raised the issue in his investigation of the county assessor’s office. His report, released last week, showed officials bypassing the state’s Public Records Act. Hueston found that former county Assessor Bill Postmus and his aides used personal messages on BlackBerries to avoid leaving any record of their discussions.

Turns out the county does not monitor instant messages, though it could do so. That task should be a top priority for the county, given what Hueston uncovered. A county with a dismal history of scandal cannot afford complacency about steps that safeguard government integrity.

The county cannot credibly take a stand against official corruption while leaving a giant technology-based loophole in public accountability. Nor, after Hueston’s report, can the county argue that such communication is not worth tracking.

See also: Corrupt Officials Skirt Open Records Law

See all San Bernardino County posts here.

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Erwin wants lawsuit moved out of county

SAN BERNARDINO – An embattled Jim Erwin wants a lawsuit against him, filed two years ago by the union for the county’s public attorneys, moved out of San Bernardino County because he believes he cannot get a fair trial.A lawyer for Erwin filed the motion for a change of venue within days of him being arrested and charged with perjury for misreporting or failing to report gifts he received from a developer.

In the motion, lawyer Alan L. Mohill states Erwin is the focus of a continuing probe of the county Assessor’s Office and had drafted an initiative to terminate extra county-paid benefits for Superior Court judges.

Mohill cites his client’s notoriety in local media and the perception of judicial bias in the motion filed Mar. 30 in San Bernardino Superior Court.

See also:  Former San Bernardino County assistant assessor, Jim Erwin, is arrested

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San Bernardino County Scandal Spills Into Riverside County

The San Bernardino County’s District Attorney’s investigation into public corruption has led to three resignations and arrests.

Republican party political operative Adam Aleman was the first to be arrested following his resignation as an Assistant Assessor to then San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus.

After Aleman’s arrest and his cooperation with investigators, his former boss, County Assessor Bill Postmus was arrested on drug charges when investigators discovered methamphetamine in his home while executing a search warrant.  Postmus then resigned as Assessor and recently entered a drug rehabilitation center.

Jim Erwin, the Chief of Staff to County Supervisor Neil Derry has also been arrested, which of course led to his resignation.  Now before going to work for Supervisor Derry, Jim Erwin had been an Assistant Assessor to Bill Postmus, and before that he was the head of the San Bernardino County Deputies union.  Jim Erwin’s previous claim to fame had been having a sexual relationship with the County’s chief negotiator during contract talks for the deputies.The heart of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s corruption investigation appears to be the $102 million settlement the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors agreed to pay Colonies Partners and developer Jeff Burum in a flood control dispute in Upland, California.  Bill Postmus was a County Supervisor at the time, and he along with County Supervisor Paul Biane threw the lawyers for the County out of the room and reached the questionable deal with the Colonies.

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Former San Bernardino County assistant assessor, Jim Erwin, is arrested

A widening criminal probe of the San Bernardino County assessor’s office led to the arrest Thursday of James Erwin, chief of staff for county Supervisor Neil Derry and a former assistant assessor, on 10 felony counts including “failure to disclose receipt of prostitution and masseuse services.”Investigators from the district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit said Erwin did not disclose a number of gifts and services he received, as legally required, and then lied about it.
The alleged gifts include a Rolex watch, theater tickets, hotel rooms in New York City, round-trip airfare on a private jet, food and beverages and the prostitution services.Authorities would not say who they believe gave Erwin the gifts. He also is accused of filing a false declaration of income.

The former San Bernardino County sheriff‘s deputy, who once headed the deputies’ union, was taken into custody at the county government center and held on $220,000 bail.

He is charged with eight counts of perjury and two counts of falsifying documents while assistant assessor. If convicted, he could face up to 11 years in state prison.See case report here.

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Spokesman for recall drive against S.B. County assessor Bill Postmus arrested on child porn charges

The spokesman for a recall drive against San Bernardino County’s former assessor has been charged with possession of child pornography, San Bernardino County Superior Court records show.

See his case report on the child porn charge

See his case report on spousal abuse and witness tampering charges

See his case report on drunk driving charges

See his case report on resisting/etc. a public officer

[ and Bill Postmus uses mind-enhancing, IQ-raising meth?  Hmmmmm..... ]

Samuel Hershel Clauder II, 57, said Monday that the charge is false and the allegation stems from a bitter, ongoing divorce.

“There is no truth to this whatsoever,” Clauder said. “It’s a very complex and messy situation.”

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San Bernardino County Official Discloses Gifts Amid Corruption Probe

Jim Erwin, Chief of Staff for San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry now says that he received a $13,000 Rolex and a trip to New York City as compensation for consulting work he performed over a six-month period for Colonies Partners, a developer at one time engaged in a protracted and expensive legal battle with the county. Erwin has not been charged with any wrongdoing at this point, but an expanding investigation continues into possible embezzlement , fraud and public corruption activities of other current and former county officials.

See also:  Top county official late on reporting $14,000 in income

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Sealing of Postmus warrant questioned

SAN BERNARDINO – A judge may have violated the First Amendment when he sealed a search warrant involving the San Bernardino County assessor without any explanation, an attorney for a free-speech advocacy group said Monday.

“You need to provide a reason,” said Rachel Matteo-Boehm, an attorney for the California First Amendment Coalition, of which The Press-Enterprise is a member.

On Jan. 14, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Douglas Elwell signed a search warrant authorizing authorities to raid 10 locations, including Assessor Bill Postmus‘s apartment in Rancho Cucamonga.

Postmus, 37, a former San Bernardino County supervisor, was arrested the next day after investigators said they found suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his home. He posted bail the same day and no charges have been filed.

In his order to seal the document, Elwell stated only that good cause had been shown. The Press-Enterprise obtained a portion of Elwell’s order that included that language.

Matteo-Boehm said that to seal a document, judges must find an “overriding interest” that supersedes the public’s right to know under the First Amendment.

See also:

San Bernardino County Assessor Postmus arrested

Welcome back, Bill Postmus

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San Bernardino County Assessor Postmus arrested

Detectives investigating San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus fanned out across Southern California on Thursday morning seeking evidence of political malfeasance but stumbled across something else – his stash of methamphetamine, authorities said.

One of the county’s top political players was promptly arrested at his Rancho Cucamonga town house. But the political scandal is likely still unraveling.

A copy of the search warrant obtained by The Sun indicates investigators are looking deeper into Postmus’s involvement in land deals and state and local political networks. The office and home of Jim Erwin, formerly Postmus’s assistant and now chief of staff for Supervisor Neil Derry, were also searched.

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Scientists Back Brain Drugs For Healthy People

NEW YORK — Healthy people should have the right to boost their brains with pills, like those prescribed for hyperactive kids or memory-impaired older folks, several scientists contend in a provocative commentary.


Welcome back, Bill Postmus

Cranking Out the A’s

The U.S. Military Needs Its Speed

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Former assistant assessor to appear in court again Wednesday

Former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman is scheduled to return to court Wednesday for a status hearing in his alleged political corruption case.

The 25-year-old Aleman and his lawyer, Grover Porter, are scheduled to appear in San Bernardino Superior Court.

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