Assistant county assessor arrested

SAN BERNARDINO — Adam Aleman, the county assessor's second in command, was arrested Monday on six felony counts in connection with fabricating false county records, officials confirmed.

Aleman, 25, was charged with three counts of preparing false evidence and one each of offering forged or altered documents as evidence, destruction of public records and vandalism over $400, according to the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit.

Aleman allegedly tampered with documents submitted to the Grand Jury for its investigation into the assessor’s office and destroyed the hard drive of a laptop computer issued by the county to Assessor Bill Postmus during his tenure as Board of Supervisors.

He was arrested in Rancho Cucamonga at 10:45 Monday without incident and booked into West Valley Detention Center, according to Deputy District Attorney John Goritz. Bail is set at $150,000 and the investigation is ongoing.

The assessor’s communications officer Ted Lehrer issued the following statement in response to the arrest: “This office is just hearing the news regarding the charges issued today against an employee in the office of the County Assessor by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. At a more appropriate time, this office may comment further on these allegations.”

Aleman was put on paid leave April 10, after investigators from the District Attorney raided the assessor’s office, taking pictures and seizing computers.

The arrest preceded Monday’s release of a Grand Jury investigation into the assessor’s office, which uncovered questionable practices by Aleman.

Though it’s against county policy to send or receive messages with political content, the Grand Jury found 91 e-mails over a two-week sampling period that were sent to Aleman by campaign organizations for national political candidates.

The Grand Jury report also states that Aleman did not meet the minimum requirements for his job, which typically include a four-year degree or high school diploma and relevant work experience, but obtained a waiver from the Board of Equalization. To help him obtain his undergraduate degree, the assessor’s office paid more than $8,000 in tuition, which is eight times the amount the county allows and was not directed at training which particularly furthered Aleman’s job skills.

Lehrer’s statement said that the arrest will not interfere with daily functions of the assessor’s office and that they will remain open for business as usual. He said Harlow Cameron will continue to hold the position of assistant assessor, though it’s not yet definitive for how long.

Brooke Edwards may be reached at 955-5358 or at bedwards@vvdailypress.com.


AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State'

Mark Klein, the retired AT&T engineer who stepped forward with the technical documents at the heart of the anti-wiretapping case against AT&T, is furious at the Senate's vote on Wednesday night to hold a vote on a bill intended to put an end to that lawsuit and more than 30 others.

[Wednesday]'s vote by Congress effectively gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies and endorses an all-powerful president. It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.

The Democratic leadership is touting the deal as a "compromise," but in fact they have endorsed the infamous Nuremberg defense: "Just following orders." The judge can only check their paperwork. This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice.

Klein saw a network monitoring room being built in AT&T's internet switching center that only NSA-approved techs had access to. He squirreled away documents and then presented them to the press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation after news of the government's warrantless wiretapping program broke.

Wired.com independently acquired a copy of the documents (.pdf) -- which were under court seal -- and published the wiring documents in May 2006 so that they could be evaluated.

The lawsuit that resulted from his documents is now waiting on the 9th U.S. Appeals Court to rule on whether it can proceed despite the government saying the whole matter is a state secret. A lower court judge ruled that it could, because the government admitted the program existed and that the courts could handle evidence safely and in secret.

But the appeals court ruling will likely never see the light of day, since the Senate is set to vote on July 8 on the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which also largely legalizes Bush's warrantless wiretapping program by expanding how the government can wiretap from inside the United States without getting individualized court orders.

Klein continues:

Congress has made the FISA law a dead letter--such a law is useless if the president can break it with impunity. Thus the Democrats have surreptitiously repudiated the main reform of the post-Watergate era and adopted Nixon’s line: "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal." This is the judicial logic of a dictatorship.

The surveillance system now approved by Congress provides the physical apparatus for the government to collect and store a huge database on virtually the entire population, available for data mining whenever the government wants to target its political opponents at any given moment—all in the hands of an unrestrained executive power. It is the infrastructure for a police state.

Neither the House nor the Senate has had Klein testify, nor have telecom executives testified in open session about their participation.

The bill forces the district court judge handling the consolidated cases against telecoms to dismiss the suits if the Attorney General certifies that a government official sent a written request to a phone or internet provider, saying that the President approved the program and his lawyers deemed it legal. Judge Vaughn Walker of the California Northern District can ask to see the paperwork, but would not be given leeway to decide if the program was legal.

Photo: Mark Klein in the offices of his lawyers in San Francisco. Credit: Ryan Singel/Wired.com

See Also:

* Mark Klein Documents
* Why We Published the AT&T Docs
* Spying in the Death Star: The AT&T Whistle-Blower Tells His Story
* Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room
* Telecom Amnesty Flip-Floppers Got More Telecom Dollars
* Senate Debates Spy Bill with Telecom Amnesty
* Obama Supports Telecom Amnesty Bill
* House Grants Telecom Amnesty, Expands Spying Powers