The California Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it would hear augments to reinstate bribery charges against a prominent Rancho Cucamonga developer in a sweeping San Bernardino County corruption case involving the developer and three former county officials.

Prosecutors with the state Attorney General's Office and San Bernardino County District Attorney's office, asked the court to reconsider an Oct. 31 ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeals in the Colonies case.

Rancho Cucamonga developer Jeff Burum stands accused of conspiring with three former county officials in an alleged bribery and extortion scheme that cost taxpayers $102 million.

Last year's appeals court ruling rejected prosecutors' request to reinstate the bribery charges against Burum.

Also charged in the case are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt.

All have denied wrongdoing.

"We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case," said Melissa Mandel, a deputy attorney general based in San Diego.

Stephen Larson, Burum's attorney, said: "We regret the further delay occasioned by the prosecutor's repeated appeals, but we respect the process. We are confident that at the end of the day, this entire case will be exposed for what it is - a politically motivated prosecution of an innocent man.


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A description of what issues the Supreme Court wants to consider was not available Wednesday and a hearing date won't be set for about 60 days, said Cathal Conneely, the state Supreme Court's spokesman.

The Supreme Court justices accept cases that are "something of statewide importance or a legal issue that needs to be resolved," Conneely said.

If the court sides with prosecutors it will set precedent on how bribery cases are charged in this state.

Prosecutors say their case has been hampered by California bribery laws they say "failed to develop alongside evolving national legal standards" and conflict with other court decisions.

It might be six months to a year before the case is heard, Conneely said.

In August 2011, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville dismissed five of seven felony charges against Burum, whom prosecutors allege bribed the three county officials to settle a lawsuit with his company for $102 million. McCarville also dropped one charge of misappropriation of public funds against Biane, Kirk and Erwin.

Prosecutors appealed McCarville's ruling, asking the appellate court to reinstate the charges.

Larson also appealed, requesting that the higher court drop the remaining charges against Burum.

Attorneys for the other three defendants joined Larson in his appeal.

jim.steinberg@inlandnewspapers.com, 909-386-3855