SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – An investigation has found the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid $3.6 million in collected legal settlements rather than depositing it into the state’s general fund as required.
The Los Angeles Times found Cal Fire paid the nonprofit California District Attorneys Association to hold the money over a seven year span. The department used the cash for equipment purchases and training.
The newspaper says the practice ended last year amid questions about whether the fund was legal. Cal Fire’s own regulations stipulate that proceeds of legal settlements go to the state’s general fund.
After questions from The Times last week, Cal Fire director, Ken Pimlott, notified the state Natural Resources Agency and state Department of Finance about the fund. The Department of Finance is planning an investigation.