Gary Armitage, the former Santa Rosa investment adviser accused of orchestrating a $250 million real estate Ponzi scheme, was released from Shasta County jail this week after his bail was sharply reduced.

The Healdsburg native and partner in AGA Financial before its collapse had spent more than two years in jail in Redding on $3 million bail.

But a judge last week ordered his bail reduced to $100,000, and on Wednesday he was released after posting a bond, according to the Shasta County Sheriff's Department.

Shasta County Superior Court Judge Bradley Boeckman found that there was no evidence Armitage, who had surrendered his passport, was a flight risk.

He said it was only fair that Armitage's bail be lowered given that his co-defendant, James Koenig of Redding, won a similar bail reduction a week earlier. Koenig was released from jail a short time later.

The release of the two men was related to a trial delay. Both were scheduled to be tried together in August. But Armitage's attorney asked for more time to prepare, while Koenig's attorney demanded a speedy trial.

To avoid having to try the two defendants separately, state deputy Attorney General Robert Morgester agreed to reduce Koenig's bail in exchange for his agreement to delay the trial until March 2012.

The men were arrested in May of 2009 after a 17-month investigation by the Department of Justice into AGA Financial and Koenig's Redding investment firm Asset Real Estate Investment.

Both firms folded in 2008 after hundreds of investors, many of them elderly, stopped receiving monthly payments on what were billed as safe investments.

Their money actually had been placed in a speculative real estate deal put together by Koenig, who had previously been convicted of bilking investors in a gold-selling scam.

Prosecutors allege the men swindled more than 2,000 investors, including hundreds on the North Coast, to fund lavish lifestyles, including a private jet and a castle-themed estate outside Redding.

A third man, Jeff Guidi of Santa Rosa, struck a plea bargain and may testify against Armitage, his former partner.

Armitage and Koenig have rejected plea offers of 25 years and 20 years in prison respectively.