California District Attorney Mark Peterson, Contra Costa County, resigns amid criminal investigation

June 16, 2017: Contra Costa County, Calif., District Attorney Mark Peterson resigned on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in a plea deal cut on the same day that California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office filed thirteen felony charges against him in connection with his admitted use of $66,000 in campaign funds for personal expenditures. Hours after filing the criminal case, State Prosecutors appeared in a Martinez courtroom and agreed to drop twelve of the charges in exchange for Peterson’s resignation and his agreement to plead no contest to one count of perjury for making false statements on state campaign disclosure forms. During the hearing, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Theresa Canepa found him guilty of the single felony and ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service and serve three years of probation. As part of the plea bargain, Peterson cannot run for public office during those years and must be booked in a county jail before the weekend. The actions brought a remarkably swift conclusion to a rare criminal case filed by State Prosecutors against an elected District Attorney. Peterson was in his second term in office and was seeking a third term when state prosecutors revealed last week, the week of June 4-10, 2017, that they were in the midst of a criminal investigation related to his campaign funds. Investigators served a search warrant at his office, and an affidavit showed they were seeking personal e-mail, bank records, calendars and personal electronic devices that might contain evidence that Peterson engaged in perjury, embezzlement, fraud or grand theft. At the Martinez courthouse on Wednesday, June 14, Peterson’s defense attorney, Ted Cassman, likened the case to a “Shakespearean tragedy.” Peterson may now be barred from practicing law.

Attribution: The San Francisco Chronicle

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