No criminal charges in California parks case

Matt Weiser / The Sacramento Bee /

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully said last week 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.

The attorney general’s office had turned over to Scully its investigation into the matter, anticipating that 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 a letter to the attorney general. “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 were done without the legal admonishments required for a criminal proceeding.