Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully said Wednesday that budget cuts to her department will seriously limit the prosecution of white-collar crime and certain narcotic and theft cases.
That's the upshot of having to eliminate 63 positions in response to the $6.9 million in budget cuts approved by supervisors last week.
The reductions will come through the layoffs of 42 employees including 31 attorneys, the elimination of 12 vacant positions and the retirement of nine employees.
All told, Scully will have funding for a little more than 350 employees, about a third less than she had three years ago. The office has no choice but to prosecute fewer crimes, Scully said.
"Public safety is not the county's priority," she said at a news conference at her office.
Supervisors had to cut about $90 million from the county's $3.5 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Other law-enforcement departments, including the sheriff and probation, received cuts as well.
Scully said she will take a deeper cut than the Sheriff's Department, even though it has a far bigger budget, and doesn't serve all of the county as her office does.
Interim County Executive Steve Szalay disagreed with her complaints, as county supervisors have before. Law-enforcement departments received smaller cuts than other county departments, and supervisors found an additional $8.5 million for the sheriff, district attorney and probation, Szalay said.
Szalay said he is working with Scully on a proposal to redirect $660,000 in funding for traffic court to prosecution of more serious crimes. If approved, Sacramento County would handle traffic court like most counties with police and judges and no prosecutors.
The catch: The prosecutors are paid by traffic fines, and Szalay has to ensure they won't lose that revenue by removing the prosecutors.
Scully said she will eliminate her special investigations unit, which prosecutes white-collar crime and public corruption. The unit is currently handling 32 cases.
Among the cases handled by the unit: The alleged overbilling scheme by a former Sacramento library system facilities director, former security director, and his wife, that prosecutors said cost taxpayers $800,000. The case is expected to go to trial later this year.
The unit has also successfully prosecuted Greg and Teresa Wolfe for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a pool company, and a man who avoided $700,000 in taxes by selling cigarettes smuggled from New Jersey, said Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher said.
No other local agency investigates such crime, Scully said. Her office will prosecute such cases, but only if other agencies provide the investigative work.
Cases currently under review will be referred to other law-enforcement agencies if they're not substantially complete, Locher said.
The District Attorney's Office will also eliminate three other units major narcotics, vehicle theft and misdemeanor jury trials. Cases handled by those units will be spread throughout the office.
Scully said her office will not prosecute cases involving theft under $950 or misdemeanor drug cases, extending the list of crimes not prosecuted since the office started receiving budget cuts three years ago.
Her office will also stop reviewing officer-involved shootings, which it had been doing every time a police officer shot someone in the line of duty. The office will only review cases submitted by police agencies for prosecution.