No criminal investigation for parks department, letters say
It appears that there won't be any criminal investigation of the accounting scandal at California's parks department.
On Thursday, the Sacramento County district attorney said she would not be taking the case.
Now prosecutors at the state attorney general's office say they agree in a letter responding to county officials.
"Apparently a review ... has not prompted a conclusion that there is a need for your office, in its independent law enforcement role, to launch a criminal investigation," the letter says. "That parallels this office's decision not to conduct a criminal investigation."
A previous probe by the attorney general's office found that some parks officials deliberately concealed millions of dollars in a department account for years. The money was stashed away because officials were worried their budget would be cut if the state's number crunchers knew about the extra funds.
Revelations about the hidden money led to an accounting scandal that forced out the parks director and embarrassed Gov. Jerry Brown's administration last year.
The attorney general's office forwarded the findings from its civil investigation to the district attorney for a possible criminal prosecution. But in her Thursday letter rejecting the case, Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Jan Scully said state officials had failed to identify possible targets or crimes.
"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," the letter said.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Former parks Director Ruth Coleman, who resigned after it was revealed her department had hidden funds. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press