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Sacramento D.A. rejects case against state parks department

January 24, 2013 |  5:21 pm

Kamala Harris SF presser

When an investigation by the California attorney general's office determined that some officials had deliberately hid millions of dollars at the state parks department, the conclusions were sent to the Sacramento County district attorney for a possible criminal prosecution.

Now the district attorney is kicking the case back, saying the attorney general's office failed to identify possible targets for a criminal prosecution or what laws might have been violated.

"Without such an initial preliminary conclusion on the part of your investigative staff that a crime was committed, the referral of the case to our office for criminal review is simply not appropriate," says a Thursday letter from Dist. Atty. Jan Scully.

In addition, Scully said it was unclear why the state referred the case to the county in the first place, since the attorney general usually leads prosecutions of high-ranking state officials. Among the people implicated in the parks accounting scandal are former Chief Deputy Director Michael Harris and Deputy Director Manuel Lopez.

"It is thus unclear why the matter has been referred to our office at all," the letter says.

Any criminal case would be hampered by the way the attorney general's office handled the investigation, according to the district attorney. Some people interviewed were promised immunity from the information they provided, the letter says, "making it unlikely, if not impossible, for anyone to be able to determine what evidence would be admissible against which subjects."

A spokesman for the attorney general did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

ALSO:

Controller finds more accounting problems in parks payroll

California parks officials deliberately hid money, report says

Parks department audit finds two decades of accounting discrepancies

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
twitter.com/chrismegerian

Photo: California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris speaks at a news conference in San Francisco in December. Credit: Jeff Chiu

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