SANTA ANA — The district attorney's office said Monday that it will not pursue criminal charges against a former planning commissioner in Orange whose engineering firm received several contracts with the city while he was in office.
Community activist Shirley L. Grindle of Orange complained to county investigators last fall that then-Planning Commissioner Don Greek violated state conflict-of-interest laws by accepting the contracts while he was on the city Planning Commission.
Prosecutors subsequently examined eight city contracts awarded to Greek's company--DGA Consultants Inc.--between May, 1986, and last April. They were worth a total of $103,167.
But in three of the cases, prosecutors concluded that the statute of limitations for criminal charges had expired. And in the remaining contracts, the district attorney's office determined that there was insufficient evidence to file charges.
"We are not approving the procedures used by city officials in these contracts," Assistant Dist. Atty. John D. Conley wrote to Grindle on Monday. "On the other hand, there is insufficient evidence to show a criminal violation of the California conflict-of-interest laws by Mr. Greek."
Contacted Monday, Greek said he was not surprised by the district attorney's announcement.
"It's what we expected. I know I'm innocent," he said. "This was just a total misuse of power. The taxpayers have paid a ton of money on a doggone witch hunt."
Grindle said that she still thought that Greek's conduct was improper but that she was not surprised by the district attorney's decision.
"I've learned that very few of these political laws are written tight enough to be prosecuted," she said. "I have seen this over and over again. For whatever reason, they don't feel they have a case."
Greek resigned from the Planning Commission last August to run for the City Council. He lost that election in November.
Last October, the City Council filed a civil lawsuit against Greek to recover the money he received from the city contracts.
The suit--ordered unanimously by the City Council--charged that Greek used his position to influence the city staff and other members of the Planning Commission "for the purpose of benefiting his own personal and financial interests."
Orange Councilman William G. Steiner said the district attorney's decision not to file charges should not affect the city's case.
"The entire City Council felt there was a conflict of interest based on those contracts," Steiner said Monday. "I don't think whether it was criminal or civil prosecution was necessarily an issue."