District attorney Bonnie Dumanis
  • District attorney Bonnie Dumanis
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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.

Donovan prison watchtower

Donovan prison watchtower

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."

Fiona Khalil

Fiona Khalil

from sdcda.org

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."

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Comments

monaghan June 16, 2015 @ 5:56 p.m.

Actually, a recent photo of Bonnie Dumanis printed in the La Jolla Light showed our District Attorney with very blond hair. Maybe the photo file should be updated.

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aardvark June 16, 2015 @ 7:02 p.m.

Actually, it would be so much better to see someone else with the title of San Diego County District Attorney.

2

CoronadoBruin June 16, 2015 @ 7:23 p.m.

We just had a strong candidate declare for City Attorney (Gil Cabrera) so here's hoping someone legit declares for the DA's race. Bonnie needs to go, and right behind Jan.

3

AlexClarke June 17, 2015 @ 7:01 a.m.

Monaghan, aardvark and CoronadoBruin: But the people keep reelecting her. We get the government we vote for and deserve. Jan Hairpiece keeps getting reelected so the only conclusion is that the voters are stupid.

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Visduh June 16, 2015 @ 10:44 p.m.

Actually, this step would be a very logical thing to include in any prosecution package of any governmental employee accused of anything. Yes, the offense has to be involved in the performance of the job, but the borderline crimes would warrant reexamination after conviction. For most of us, this legal doctrine means that the baddies don't walk away from the scene of the crime, stuffing pension bucks into their pockets as if nothing had ever happened. Why this obvious part of a prosecution went unreported and ignored is just another example of a really poor choice for DA being allowed to have multiple terms.

Good news is in the So County corruption cases; one of the worst dudes, Jesus Gandara, the Texican former supe of the Sweetwater district pled guilty to a felony. When he was replaced--he should have been fired outright--he negotiated a deal that give him five years of credit in the State Teachers Retirement System, and allowed him to start taking a fat pension from the state, even as he slunk back to west Texas.

The law in question reared up and bit him good. As I recall it, it wasn't the DA or the judge who remembered this law, but someone else who alerted CalSTRS, and after a short look-see, it decided that since the felony predated his separation from the district, he got no credit for the last two-or-so years, and they revoked his pension. As it was, he was still getting back the money he'd put in, but the payments stopped, and he's off the gravy train. Even his high-powered attorney, Pfaul Pfingsto, couldn't prevent the loss of pension for his dirty client. There is hope for simple justice out there from time to time.

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MrsKramer June 20, 2015 @ 10:46 a.m.

Things that make you go Hmmmm. Is there anyone in Bonnie's office who might lose their pensions for committing felonies?

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