Supervisor Jones Hid Attorney General’s Bombshell Letter that Exonerated District Attorney

Kevin Crye speaks to nearly 20 supporters and curious citizens Friday morning outside a Redding coffee shop where the entire patio was overtaken by Crye’s weekly “Coffee with Kevin” attendees. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

Friday morning, as District 1 Supervisor Kevin Crye pontificated and opined about Shasta County business from outside a Redding coffee shop in front of an audience of nearly 20 supporters and curious citizens, North State social media sites were simultaneously blowing up with explosive news.

At that point, the breaking news hadn’t appeared to have reached the ‘Coffee with Kevin’ group yet. For most of Crye’s meet-and-greet that started at 8 a.m. and lasted for about an hour and a half, the District 1 Supervisor spoke with enthusiasm and excitement as he held his newborn grandson as Crye’s daughter and son-in-law sat in the audience.

As traffic buzzed by on Athens Avenue, Crye delivered a running stream of information and opinions about all matter of county-related topics, upcoming agendas, and random comments about everything from the jail and bad media, to the yet-again repeated statement that his daughter is a 21-year-old school-psychologist go-getter who became pregnant on her honeymoon.

However, nowhere in Crye’s rapid-fire monologue – peppered with occasional audience questions — did he disclose this breaking news: For more than three months, District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones had concealed a bombshell January 29 letter that Jones had received from Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office, a letter Jones had not made public, even to the letter’s subject: District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett.

Dist. 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones.

In short, the Attorney General Office’s letter to Jones fully exonerated Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. Perhaps the reason Crye didn’t relish the thought of sharing this official news of Bridgett’s exoneration Friday morning is because since last year, supervisors Crye and Jones have torn into DA Bridgett over the Zogg Fire settlement like sharks after chum in the water.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett.

Shasta County District Attorney Bridgett said she discovered the letter this week after she’d contacted the Attorney General’s office to request the status of the Board of Supervisors’ August 2023 letter to the Attorney General.

Bridgett said she was then informed by the Attorney General’s office that a response letter had been sent to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors in January 2024.

The letter was addressed to Supervisor Jones. This was literally news to DA Bridgett, which caused her to investigate further.

“I then requested a copy from the Attorney General’s Office as one was never sent to me by the Attorney General’s Office, nor forwarded to me by the Board of Supervisors,” explained District Attorney Bridgett in an email response to A News Cafe.

Friday morning the District Attorney’s office released on its official Facebook page a statement about the mystery letter.

The DA’s Facebook statement revealed that the AG’s letter absolved Bridgett of any wrongdoing with regard to the Zogg Fire settlement case. An excerpt of the letter concluded:

After thoroughly reviewing the court records, available reports, and information about the settlement, our conclusion is that the District Attorney did not abuse her discretion in dismissing criminal charges and instead reaching a significant civil settlement. Furthermore, there was no evidence of misconduct or impropriety in how the settlement was reached. This includes our determination that, based on the information available to our office, that the District Attorney did not violate Government Code section 1090. Consequently, our office will not be taking further action at this time. Sincerely, Lance F. Winters, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division.

Bridgett said that after receiving news of the Attorney General Office’s January letter to Jones, she determined it should be made public to bring closure to the Zogg Fire settlement case and the issues raised about it.

“As I stated last fall, I welcomed the Attorney General looking into the case and resolution as I knew it had been handled legally and ethically,” Bridgett said. “It is my hope that this decision by the Attorney General’s Office will provide answers to those in our community that had questions concerning its handling by myself and my office.”

Reactions and silence

District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman.

District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman responded to A News Cafe’s request for comment. Garman said that Jones did not share the letter with Garman after Jones received it more than three months ago. He said District Attorney Bridgett shared the existence of the letter with Garman after she’d learned of it a few days ago.

Garman said he wasn’t surprised by the letter, and that it was exactly as he expected; there was never any wrongdoing in the way District Attorney Bridgett had handled the Zogg Fire case.

Garman, who’d come under intense fire by Crye, Jones and others during supervisor meetings because of Garman’s defense of Bridgett, is now angered by how the board majority had used the Zogg Fire settlement case and the victims as a political football.

“Can someone please define transparency for me?” Garman asked. “If this is transparency, then we are screwed. What hurts the most is that the families who lost loved ones in the Zogg Fire were used as a political tool. Is there anything worse than that? I mean, what type of a human being would stoop to that level? Disgusting! Those poor folks had to relive the trauma when three supervisors went on a witch hunt thinking they could take out the District Attorney by politicizing the Zogg Fire settlement. Did I say ‘disgusting’ ready? I can’t stress it enough, it’s disgusting!”

Garman recalled how Crye and District 5 Supervisor Chris Kelstom held a town-hall meeting in Igo — a tiny west-Shasta County town included in part of Garman’s district — where Garman said Crye and Kelstrom offered false hope to residents impacted by the Zogg Fire.

Garman strongly suspects that all along, Jones, Crye and Kelstrom knew there was no wrongdoing on the District Attorney’s part, but even so, they used the Zogg Fire victims to strengthen their accusations against DA Bridgett.

“They turned a community against the victims, and victimized them all over again. And now, as this becomes news once again, the families will relive the trauma. When is enough, enough? People who play games with victims for political gain have no place in politics or any other form of leadership,” Garman said.

“I will conclude with my deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the Zogg Fire. I am sorry you have to go through this again. Please know I tried my best to stop this from getting to this point. I pray that this will end the discussion and cruelty that the Board of Supervisors has put you through.”

Dist. 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert.

District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert, who’s currently out on a medical leave of absence, said Jones had not shared that he’d received the Jan. 29 letter from the Attorney General’s office. Rickert said she’d first learned of the letter this morning from KQMS reporter Steve Gibson, who’d called Rickert and requested a comment about the matter.

Rickert said she wasn’t surprised by the content of the Attorney General Office’s letter, because she fully expected that District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett had followed the law,  and therefore there would be no findings of any misconduct.

“I stated that position while we discussed this agenda item during our board meeting,” Rickert said. “I was expecting a letter from Attorney General Bonta’s office stating that their investigation would result in no impropriety.”

Rickert added that news of the undisclosed letter only solidified her confidence in how District Attorney Bridgett had handled the Zogg Fire settlement case.

“The Board of Supervisors did not have jurisdiction over this matter, and it was a waste of time and money for the board, staff and the public,” Rickert said.

“I am deeply disappointed that Supervisor Jones did not disclose this letter to the board, and to the general public. With the primary election looming in March, it would have been the appropriate and ethical thing to do,” she said.

“I also am concerned other members of the board were aware of the letter and were complicit in not sharing the letter with the public. I do think there needs to be an investigation as to why this letter was not disclosed, and who was aware of the letter’s existence.”

Dawn Duckett.

Finally, community activist Dawn Duckett, a frequent speaker at the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meetings who routinely introduces herself as as a fiscal conservative, said she was disturbed by the news that Jones had kept secret the letter he’d received from the Attorney General several months ago.

She also pointed out Supervisor Crye’s involvement in the controversy that pitted the board majority against the District Attorney.

“Although the letter is addressed to Supervisor Patrick Jones, this was Supervisor Crye’s idea,” Duckett said. “And now Crye is yet again trying to take another bite at the apple, and continues to disparage our District Attorney using high-profile cases as a political football. Crye continually accuses others of politicizing issues, but if you ask me, he is the quarterback of the political football team.”

Duckett, who’d taken Crye to task at last week’s supervisors meeting for his private coffee meetings that discuss board business, showed up at Crye’s coffee meeting this morning for the first time. Duckett later recalled that she approached Crye as he walked toward the coffee meeting, and tried without success to engage with him.

“It’s been bothering me that he’s been going after the DA again,” Duckett said in a Friday-afternoon communication with A News Cafe.

“I told him I wanted to talk to him, and he said he didn’t have time for it, and brushed past me, and I said, ‘OK, I was trying to do this in a private way with you so I’ll have to talk to you in public about it’,” Duckett said.

“I mentioned to him that I felt he was using it as a political football, and he said he doesn’t believe in political footballs, that he only believes in the truth, and he walked away from me.”

The hidden letter’s unknown past potential

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what potential impact news of the letter might have had on the outcome of the March elections, had Jones disclosed the Attorney General office’s findings sooner, especially considering Supervisor Crye narrowly escaped his recall by just 50 votes. Would at least 51 voters have voted to recall Crye had they learned earlier that Crye’s attacks against the District Attorney were proved baseless by the Attorney General’s office?

We will never know.

Also unknown is how many people knew of Jones’ letter from the Attorney General. Did Jones share it with Crye, Kelstrom, CEO David Rickert, or county counsel? If so, were they obligated to make the letter public, for the sake of transparency?

What is known is that despite the Attorney General’s office giving District Attorney Brigett a resounding vote of confidence, Crye appears to be doubling down in his attempts to discredit Bridgett.

Another known is that for as long as Crye’s ‘Coffee with Kevin’ sessions last, they will continue to attract such regulars as Patty Plumb, Jenny Nowain, Nick Gardner, Bruce Anderson, Corkey Harmon, Nigel Skeet, as well as family, friends and Ninja Coalition employees alike.

“Bring folding chairs! Get there early,” crows Crye during his board reports and radio shows.

Supervisor Kevin Crye speaks at Friday’s ‘Coffee with Kevin’ as District 3 Supervisor candidate Corkey Harmon (left) and Bruce Anderson (complicit in the July 6, 2023 assault upon ANC publisher Doni Chamberlain) look on.

There, Crye will no doubt continue to hold court — and sometimes a grandbaby — as he boasts he’s the only supervisor to offer meet-and-greets. Participants partake of such nuggets as Crye’s claims that the former CEO unnecessarily tripled the number of upper level staff, as he weighs in on specific agenda items and the whys and wherefores of their inception, placement and process.

‘Coffee with Kevin’ fans hear Crye’s supervisor-meeting critiques, such as how the public-comment time is half public comment, half public complaints. His supporters observe Crye’s benevolent leniency with regard to how long he’ll allow favored folks to speak during the coffee chats, contrasted with Crye’s abrupt impatience and interruptions for those he dislikes, often people who’ve openly criticized him.

What’s more, Coffee with Kevin attendees are privy to such insider details as the number of contenders for the Registrar of Voters’ position (four, to date), and Crye’s interest in seeing what other kinds of local controls the county’s pending Charter County status can provide, as well as how the upcoming June budget hearings will feature “groupings” of different departments, so people can gauge when to show up to hear about specific budgets.

Bonus teaser topics include having Dr. James Mu as a featured ‘Coffee with Kevin’ guest, who can tell about all the healthcare providers Mu has lured to Shasta County.

‘Coffee with Kevin’ is the place to be if you want Crye’s county insights, snarks and inside scoops. Extra, extra! Hear all about it!

Conversely, for those who want to sit in peace upon the patio of a charming, locally owned Athens Avenue Coffee Shop for a brief respite from the doom and gloom of Shasta County politics — a pleasant place to enjoy a cup of coffee a pastry, conversation with a companion, or a good boo —  choose any day except Friday around 8 a.m. and the following few hours.

Forewarned is well-informed.

Editor’s note: Supervisors Crye, Jones, Kelstrom and Shasta County CEO David Rickert did not return A News Cafe’s requests for comment. 


If you appreciate journalist Doni Chamberlain’s reporting, please consider supporting this local news site. Thank you.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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