The Sacramento County district attorney said Thursday that her office will not pursue criminal charges against California state parks officials in the "hidden funds" scandal because of a "failure to identify any crime" by the state attorney general.
District Attorney Jan Scully responded after the attorney general turned over its investigation into the matter, anticipating the district attorney would decide whether crimes were committed.
The investigation concluded that numerous high-ranking employees at the California Department of Parks and Recreation kept at least $20 million hidden in a "rainy day fund" for as long as 13 years, a violation of state budget rules. This continued even as the department moved in 2012 to close 70 state parks in response to general fund budget cuts.
"There is no indication who your office considers to be suspects, and if so, what crime they may have committed," Attorney General Jan Scully wrote in the letter. "It is thus unclear why the matter has been referred to our office at all, and whether your office intends to retain its historic authority in the prosecution ... of such cases."
Officials at the attorney general's office previously emphasized they were asked by Gov. Jerry Brown to conduct only an "administrative" investigation. Thus, most of its interviews with current and former parks employees were done without the legal admonishments required for a criminal proceeding.
Yet officials at the Natural Resources Agency, which oversees state parks, anticipated the investigation would allow the district attorney to decide whether crimes were committed. It now appears unclear whether the question of criminal behavior will ever be settled.
"I just hoped, after all this has transpired, that everything would be forthcoming and everything would be dealt with in the best way possible," said Lynn Rhodes, a retired chief of enforcement at state parks who has been critical of previous management at the department. "I'm not sure whose place it would be to ask the attorney general to clarify its report."
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Read more articles by Matt Weiser
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at email@example.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.