Overdue Grand Jury Report
May Surface Next Week
The long overdue Modoc County Grand Jury report containing its investigation into the misappropriation of nearly $20 million in treasury funds is expected to be made public next week.
While unconfirmed by presiding Superior Court Judge Francis Barclay, the release of the highly anticipated report was predicted by Wes Cook, out-going grand jury foreman.
“It should be out next week,” Cook told the Modoc County Daily News.
Normally, grand jury reports are released before the next grand jury is sworn in, according to a spokesman for the California State Grand Jurors’ Association. The 2011-12 Modoc County Grand Jury was impaneled by Barclay June 27.
Barclay did not immediately respond to inquires as to why there has been a delay in the report’s release, or in what form the report would be made public.
A possible reason for the delay in the issuance of the grand jury report is that “it may not have been in any kind of shape to be accepted or released as a final report document,” according to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It sounds like last year's jury was somewhat dysfunctional and or disadvantaged.”
Cook, who otherwise was selective in his comments, disagreed with that assessment.
“I thought they worked very well together,” he said. “We had a limited number who worked excellently together.”
What is known, according to sources who would not speak publicly, is that Barclay, working under an apparent shroud of secrecy, has severely toned down the emotional level of the grand jury’s original open letter to the public.
In that letter the grand jury, while shy of naming anyone, clearly accuses “past and present elected and appointed county officials” of “misappropriation” of treasury funds, a violation of state law.
Barclay’s version, according to a copy of his draft letter obtained by the Modoc County Daily News, deletes one specific charge of misappropriation and refers only to “certain county officials” as being responsible for using restricted funds from the treasury.
However, the judge’s rewrite of the grand jury letter strongly states, “We further believe that the inquiries and findings made by us and previous grand juries suggests that there is a potential for criminal liability on the part of certain officials.”
There is reference to Penal Code 424 (misappropriation of public funds) and Penal Code 425 (failure to keep and pay over public funds as prescribed).
Missing in Barclay’s rewrite of the grand jury letter is the statement that “dereliction of duties by elected and appointed officials has resulted in personal financial damage and harm to every resident in the county. In our opinion this is not a victimless crime.”
In separate letters, it has been learned, the grand jury asked Barclay, District Attorney Chris Brooke, and Attorney General Kamala Harris to conduct a criminal investigation of the misappropriation.
The reference to a request for an outside criminal investigation in itself, including impaneling a criminal grand jury, does not appear in Barclay’s version of the grand jury’s open letter to the public.
Cook, when asked if Barclay, Brooke and Harris had responded to the grand jury’s request for a criminal investigation, said no one as yet had replied but he expected them to do so. The letters were dated June 1 and June 8.
Both the original grand jury letter to the public and Barclay’s edited version close with a strong appeal that “all citizens of Modoc County…participate in the monitoring of our elected and appointed officials and to become more involved in our local government in general.”
-- Ray A. March
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Update: Grand Jury Report
Editor’ Note: Readers have been wondering why the Modoc County Grand Jury report for 2010-11 has not been made public. Their question is a legitimate one considering it is common knowledge that the grand jury for the last year has been investigating the misappropriation of nearly $20 million from the county treasury. We have asked Judge Francis Barclay to tell us why he has not released the report, but to date he has not responded. We will report more on this tomorrow, July 19.
Posted by BMarch at 4:34 PM