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Thursday, April 18, 2013

California Supreme Court to reconsider bribery case charges

By Eileen Peck

The California Supreme Court will consider reinstating bribery charges against a San Bernardino developer and three former county officials, who were initially charged with bribery, misappropriation of public funds, aiding and abetting the receipt of bribes, conflict of interest, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Prosecutors claimed that the four conspired to reach a favorable $102M settlement for an investment group headed by San Bernardino developer Jeff Burum in exchange for cash payments to the elected officials.

Charges dropped in superior court

Four bribery charges and the charge of misappropriating public funds against Burum were thrown out by San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville, who ruled that Burum could not be charged with both bribery and aiding and abetting the receipt of bribes. McCarville also dismissed the charge of misappropriation of public funds against Burum.

Appeals court rules in favor of the defense

The 4th District Court of Appeals reinstated the misappropriation charge, but rejected the prosecutor's conflict of interest claim, as well as the prosecutor's request that the bribery charges be reinstated.  Prosecutors appealed to the state's Supreme Court, arguing that the lower courts have relied on a misinterpretation of the law which holds that a defendant cannot be charged with both bribery and aiding and abetting the receipt of bribes.

Supreme Court could reinterpret bribery charges

If the Supreme Court reinstates that bribery charges against Burum, it will represent a new interpretation of the way in which bribery charges may be filed in the State of California.  Prosecutors argue that the lower court's rationale for dismissing the charges does not apply to bribery cases, and that the charges should be reinstated as originally filed.

Experienced defense counsel matters

For public officials facing or potentially facing bribery charges, having superior legal representation throughout the criminal process is critical to mounting a successful defense.  The earlier you work with an experienced and competent defense attorney, the more likely you will be to resolve any potential criminal matters successfully.

robert helfend criminal defense lawyer
Robert Helfend
If you are either charged with a crime or are being investigated prior to being charged, your first step should include contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend.  Do not attempt to resolve legal matters on your own, and do not cooperate with investigations without first consulting a defense attorney.

Charges like bribery, fraud and conspiracy are serious and can carry significant penalties, including imprisonment and fines. Knowing your rights and having experienced counsel on your side can help you avoid compromising your ability to defend yourself against accusations of this type.

Robert Helfend is a practicing Los Angeles criminal defense attorney and has offered superior criminal defense counsel since 1984 in a wide range of criminal matters.  Mr. Helfend practices in both state and federal courts and can provide you with excellent counsel on all criminal matters you may be facing.  The earlier in the criminal process you contact him, the more effectively he can deliver counsel and legal representation services. Knowing that you have an experienced attorney on your side fighting for your rights and reputation can also help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with being charged with a serious crime.

About the author: Eileen Peck is a content creator for the Law Offices of Robert Helfend, a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney. Eileen enjoys writing about criminal cases, new laws, and much more.

* Image credit & license: Eileen Peck