San Diego, known for its mayoral miscreants, also has a goodly number of felonious bad apples further down in the barrel of public servants.
And until a recent audit exposed the problem, repeated failures by San Diego district attorney Bonnie Dumanis have allowed the employee felons to qualify for retirement benefits barred by California law.
The costly lapses are described in a March 30 report from county chief of audits Juan Perez regarding lax enforcement by the D.A.'s office of the state's Public Employees' Pension Reform Act.
"Public employees are state, county, city, school district, and other public agency employees," the audit says.
"A public employee convicted of a qualifying felony offense forfeits all retirement benefits earned or accrued from the earliest date of commission of the felony through the date of conviction."
According to the auditor's report, the law requires the district attorney to notify the appropriate retirement authorities within 60 days after felony conviction of a public employee or retiree.
"The Special Operations Division within the DA is responsible for monitoring and maintaining documentation related to public employees’ conviction of a felony offense that fits within the [reform act] provisions," notes the document.
"The prosecutor attorney is responsible for notification to the public employer who employed the public employee at the time of the commission of the felony."
Auditors turned up a disconcerting number of public employees with felonies on their records who hadn't been reported by the D.A.
"As of May 2014, there were five public employees convicted of a qualifying felony offense," says the document.
Felons tallied by the auditors from January 2013 through May 2014 included one worker each at the California Department of Transportation, Donovan prison, the county's child-support services office, and county recorder's office, along with one retiree.
According to the audit, "the prosecutor attorney did not notify the public employers of these felony convictions. Further, the Special Ops Division was not aware of the conviction of the County retiree."
Auditors "also found that the DA’s Office did not have formalized policies and procedures to identify, report, and track public employees' felony convictions."
In January 2014, the report says, "the Special Ops Division issued a notice to inform staff about [reform act] requirements. They also provided a draft notification form to assist the prosecutor attorney."
However, "the notice inaccurately stated that the DA’s Office has 90 days to notify public employers of qualifying felony convictions, instead of 60 days as required by law."
In a March 27 response to the audit's findings, Fiona Khalil, assistant chief of the District Attorney's Special Operations Division, said the office was changing its ways.
"Your staff has been extremely helpful in identifying procedures that will ensure future uniform and efficient compliance," wrote Khalil.
A new D.A. policy, she said, "emphasizes that a prosecutor must report within 60 days of the conviction. The Special Directive sets forth procedures for notification and provides a sample form upon which to make the notification. Further, our prosecutors are required to send a copy of the notification to our Special Operations Division to allow tracking of notifications."