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County CEO, 2 Supervisors, Scrutinized For Undisclosed Attorney General’s Letter Exonerating DA

Dolores Lucero, who frequently criticizes Shasta County’s Board of Supervisors majority, speaks at Tuesday’s Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

For more than a year, Dolores Lucero has warned Shasta County’s Board of Supervisors majority that they’re destined for prison for a variety of alleged legal improprieties, conflicts of interest and infractions. Often, as Lucero delivers her dire predictions of certain incarceration for the trio of supervisors who’ve steadfastly held Shasta County hostage by its proverbial short hairs, supervisors Patrick Jones and Kevin Crye routinely smirk, roll their eyes and laugh out loud. Supervisor Chris Kelstrom, who’s also part of the board majority, rarely laughs.

Judging by sobering, recently disclosed information revealed via a records request by former Shasta County Public Defender Jeff Gorder, Crye and Jones might consider joining Kelstrom, and take Lucero’s words more seriously.

“Go ahead and laugh, Supervisor Crye, you’re going to prison,” Dolores Lucero states during the public comment period. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

Did the concealed letter prevent Supervisor Crye’s recall?

Gorder’s records request pertained to the issue of an Attorney General’s letter regarding the Zogg Fire settlement investigation, which Gorder recently addressed in an opinion piece, and that was also reported by A News Cafe.

In Gorder’s letter to the editor, he decried the board majority’s lack of transparency.

“The public has yet to receive a satisfactory answer as to why the letter was not immediately disclosed when it was received by the County,” wrote Gorder.

“The only reasonable explanation we’re left with at this time is that there was a decision to bury the letter because of the impact it might have on the March 5 election.”

Tuesday afternoon, Gorder received a response from his Public Records Request for the original Attorney General letter received by Supervisor Jones and given to Supervisor/Chair Crye.

According to Gorder, the Clerk of the Board informed Gorder Tuesday that the County no longer has the original, or a copy of the original Attorney General letter. The only remaining copy of that original letter is the copy the Attorney General emailed to Bridgett when she inquired about the status of the letter, which Bridgett forwarded to the County.

What a puzzle, considering that then-Chair Jones received the Attorney General’s original Jan. 29, letter, which Jones reportedly copied for Crye. The sudden revelation that the letters no longer exist could be legally problematic for CEO Rickert, and supervisors Crye and Jones. According to California Government Code 6200, there are strict guidelines and penalties regarding improper handling, preservation, removal, secretion or destruction of public documents.

According to Section 1170 of the Penal Code, violators could face prison terms of between two and four years.

What a Shakespearean karmic twist for Crye, should his failed attempts to discredit Shasta County’s District Attorney with a lengthy letter of false allegations regarding the Zogg Fire settlement land him in prison for concealing and possibly destroying the Attorney General’s letter that exonerated the DA.

Oh, sweet irony.

No doubt, this outcome was not what Crye imagined when he doubled down against Supervisor Mary Rickert at an Aug. 1 board meeting where she faulted Crye for what she saw as baseless accusations against the District Attorney.

YouTube video courtesy of KRCR

“Time will tell of what side each of us are on,” a confident Crye insisted. “And one of us will be highly vindicated, and the other should be embarrassed.”

For those keeping score, according to the Attorney General’s (MIA) letter, it appears that Rickert was the one vindicated, which leaves Crye the one embarrassed.

As an aside, note at around the 1:44 time stamp of the above video, where Crye says he hired his own attorney to help with the letter. This statement contradicts the previous video in which Crye repeatedly denies Rickert’s questions about whether an attorney assisted Crye, saying, “I crafted ’em” regarding the letter’s bullet points.

Once again, pants on fire.

Speaking of which, check out this *Aug. 31, 2024 video exchange between Supervisor Crye and Dawn Duckett. In an almost prophetic statement, Duckett challenges Crye, and says that eventually, Crye will be caught in his lie about who wrote the letter to the Attorney General.

Video courtesy of Dawn Duckett.
Letters, letters, who’s got the letters?

The Deputy Clerk of the Board informed Gorder in a Tuesday email response to Gorder’s records request that the County does not possess the physical copy of the Attorney General’s letter, dated January 29, 2024, and received by Supervisor Patrick Jones from the California Attorney General’s office.

Consequently, no physical copy of the letter meant the Clerk of the Board’s office could not provide records that would include a date-stamp, or indications of who may have read the letter, explained the Deputy Clerk of the Board to Gorder via email.

Tuesday evening, this new information prompted Gorder to write the following letter to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, cc’d to CEO Rickert:

Jeff Gorder, former Shasta County Public Defender/Recall Kevin Crye committee member.

Dear Supervisors,

It is my understanding that the Board directed CEO Rickert to investigate the apparent cover-up of the Attorney General’s letter exonerating D.A. Bridgett in her handling of the Zogg Fire case. A number of important questions need to be answered:

  1. Supervisor Jones has stated publicly that he told Supervisor Crye about the letter and gave a copy of the letter to Supervisor Crye. Did Supervisor Crye receive the letter from Supervisor Jones and, if so, what did he do with it? Did either Supervisor Jones or Supervisor Crye discuss the letter with or distribute the letter to other Board members? Why did neither Supervisor Jones or Supervisor Crye disclose the letter to the public?
  2. Supervisor Crye reportedly told the Record Searchlight that he was told by either Supervisor Jones or CEO Rickert about the letter and Supervisor Crye asked what the next steps should be. Who did Supervisor Crye talk to about what the next steps should be, Supervisor Jones or CEO Rickert? What advice, if any, was given to Supervisor Crye about what the next steps should be? Was CEO Rickert advised of the letter near the time when it was received by Supervisor Jones? Did CEO Rickert and Supervisor Crye have a discussion about the letter? If CEO Rickert was aware of the letter when it was first received by the County, why did he not disseminate and disclose it?
  3. Why were the County’s Administrative Policies not followed with regard to this letter, specifically Rule 1-115?
  4. Why does the County not have the original letter or a copy of the original letter? I made a Public Records Act request for the original letter or a copy of said letter with the “date received” stamp noted. I was advised by the Clerk of the Board that the County did not have the original or copy of the original, it only had the electronic copy that had been sent to the County by DA Bridgett when she received the letter on or about May 3, 2024.

Because of the potential conflicts of interest in this investigation, it would be advisable to have outside counsel conduct the investigation. However, if it is decided that CEO Rickert is going to handle the investigation, I request that the above-referenced questions be addressed and the final report made available to the public for review.

Sincerely,

Jeff Gorder

Surprise Supervisor Rickert appearance

Of all the meetings for District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert to venture gingerly into board chambers during her extended medical leave of absence following recent back surgery, Rickert inadvertently chose a doozy of a day.

District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert.

First, despite being absent on medical leave for more than a month, District 2 Supervisor Tim Garman was the only county official on the dais to acknowledge Rickert’s presence, and welcome her to the meeting.

Second, this was also the meeting that featured a presentation by District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett, who had been summoned by Chair Crye to describe the DA’s prosecution process. The back story about this summons was that Crye has blasted the DA for weeks on his radio show about a molestation case Crye believed the District Attorney took too long to prosecute.

This was a timely meeting for Bridgett to attend, since many speakers hammered Crye and Jones during the public comment period about their mishandling of the Attorney General’s letter.

Even so, for Crye, whose malignant disdain for Bridgett is nearly palpable, this was an opportunity to put his arch Zogg-Fire-settlement enemy on the hot seat, and make her squirm.

But Bridgett didn’t squirm. Instead, she methodically explained how the District Attorney’s office works.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett delivers a presentation ordered by Crye. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

When it was time for the supervisors to ask questions, Jones jumped in and inquired about cases, and whether they’re kept in logs, and can the public see them, and what about dismissal numbers and wasn’t it true dismissals increased after Bridgett’s re-election?

Bridgett said she heard Jones’ words, but didn’t understand his question.

Crye, after grilling Bridgett for a bit, pulled a classic gotcha-Crye move when he asked Bridgett how many staff she’d brought along, to which Bridgett smiled and said she didn’t know exactly, and gestured behind her.

Crye pressed on, and asked if there were eight or more or less staff people from the District Attorney’s office, and the only reason he asked was Bridgett was saying earlier how under-staffed her office was, and yet here she’d brought all these employees from her department away from their work.

Some from the audience moaned to Crye, “Oh, come on!”

Bridgett explained she’d brought along staff who could each speak to certain specialties within the District Attorney’s office, to provide the best information for her presentation that Crye had requested.

Crye continued speaking as if he’d not heard her.

At some point all hell broke loose in the board chambers when a speaker named William Gilbert verbally tore into Supervisor Rickert about a road project that Rickert later said isn’t part of county jurisdiction.

William Gilbert verbally dresses down Supervisor Mary Rickert.

Speaking of Gilbert, earlier, when Supervisor Garman welcomed Rickert to the meeting, Gilbert was the lone person in the board chambers who boo’d loudly. At the time, Chair Crye seemed deaf to the outburst, and said nothing.

When Gilbert spoke a second time, and again went after Rickert, a woman from the audience yelled for him to shut up. With that, Gilbert strode purposefully to that side of the room and demanded to know who’d told him to shut up. The women yelled from near the back, “I did” which led to a volley of f-bombs between them, to which Gilbert told the woman to come on, bend over and pull her pants down.

All the while, no gavel pounding from Crye, and the Ardent security guards stood as immobilized as a pair of Buckingham Palace guards.

Quite the show for the District Attorney and her staff. Just another day at the Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting.

No wonder the parking lot is so empty, and there an increasing number of vacant seats in the board chambers: Between Crye’s dictator-style public-comment rules and unpredictable outbursts, most sane people avoid those meetings.

Another noteworthy moment was when Lucero approached the lectern, and Supervisor Jones immediately donned headphones.

Jones — resembling something closer to a character from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” than an elected official — grinned, looked ceilingward, closed his eyes, blinked, pursed his lips, and swiveled in his chair like a bored 2-year-old as Lucero delivered a rapid-fire description of what she believed were the board majority’s criminal behaviors.

 

No admonishment from Chair Crye to his fellow supervisor Jones regarding the headphones stunt and impersonation of an impertinent child. For that matter, also not a peep of a correction to Jones from the CEO or County Counsel, each of whom sometimes step in and take the decorum reins when Crye loses his temper and forgets it’s his job to maintain civility and decorum.

But Supervisor Rickert appeared to take all these things in stride.

Her Tuesday attendance allowed her to vote no when the board granted themselves a hefty raise, which was approved 3 – 2 by supervisors Garman, Jones and Kelstrom. Crye cast the other vote against the raise, which was bizarre, since he’s talked publicly — such as during a recent Coffee with Kevin session — about the necessity of a raise for supervisors, and how poor Supervisor Kelstrom struggles financially and has cashed in his investments, and how Crye wants to entice more than just financially comfortable retirees to the board positions. So out of that side of Crye’s mouth he praised the need for supervisors to receive a raise, but out of the other side Crye didn’t give a concrete reason to not vote for a raise, except that perhaps Crye was doing fine financially, and could bypass the raise. In the Land of Crye, all roads lead to him and his needs.

Finally, in one of the meeting’s most sharply debated moments, Supervisor Rickert addressed the issue of the Attorney General’s letter. Initially she attempted a motion for more discussion and for an investigation, but she got heavy push-back from Supervisor Garman, who proclaimed that the Igo residents had been through enough without bringing up the Zogg Fire again. Rickert countered that this topic wasn’t about the Zogg Fire, but the Attorney General’s letter. No matter. Rickert’s vote was going nowhere. Instead, as perhaps a compromise, she asked if the CEO could look into the matter. CEO Rickert replied yes.

That investigation is at the heart of Gorder’s letter to Shasta County’s supervisors and CEO.

Reached later at her home for a comment, Rickert explained why she’d brought up the AG letter Tuesday.

“After listening to the many members of the public at the May 14th board meeting who were asking for answers as to why the January 29th letter from Attorney General Bonta was never shared at a board meeting, I felt strongly that we needed closure,” Rickert said.

“For true transparency, it is time to share why the letter wasn’t read at a board meeting when it was first received by Supervisor Jones. After the many accusations and disparaging remarks about DA Bridgett made by supervisors Crye and Jones, the members of the board who had knowledge of the letter need to do the ethical thing and inform the public of the findings of the investigation.”

Supervisor Rickert added that to accomplish the level of necessary transparency, it was obvious that an outside investigation was the logical next step.

“I will continue to press for an outside investigation until this matter is resolved,” Rickert said.

Meanwhile, so many questions remain: What will the CEO’s investigation reveal? Because CEO Rickert was one of the three county officials to once have a copy of the AG letter, can CEO Rickert be a trustworthy, impartial investigator? What exactly did happen to the trio of AG letters? Burned, tossed, shredded, or languishing in the bottom of a parakeet cage?

Finally, will Dolores one day utter these four magic words? “I told you so.”

Most of all, how would Jones, Crye and Kelstrom look in orange jumpsuits?

Editor’s note: A * Facebook live video of Dawn Duckett challenging Supervisor Kevin Crye was included in this story at 6:26 p.m.

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If you appreciate journalist Doni Chamberlain’s reporting, and wish to support A News Cafe’s work, please consider a contribution to this 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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