SACRAMENTO — After weeks of dodging a state subpoena, embattled Orange County Assistant Treasurer Matthew Raabe has been served with an order to appear before a Senate special committee Friday on the Orange County bankruptcy.
Raabe was served with the subpoena by Orange County marshals called in to assist the Senate sergeant-at-arms office, which has been trying for nearly a month to catch up with the suspended county official.
Tony Beard, Senate sergeant at arms, said he asked for help from the county marshal's office, which specializes in serving court papers and subpoenas, after his own officers tried on at least 10 occasions to snag Raabe at home and other places he frequents.
"There was no reason for his behavior," Beard said. "There comes a point where you take it somewhat personally."
Beard said the marshals contacted Raabe's new attorney, Gary M. Pohlson, and set up a time for the assistant treasurer to accept the subpoena Monday evening.
"The marshals have a little added incentive," Beard said. "County employees were a little upset that he wouldn't accept the subpoena and answer questions."
County leaders last week began the process of firing Raabe, citing his failure to properly account for the county's plummeting investment portfolio and his role in helping issue a controversial $600-million bond offering last summer. Neither Raabe nor his attorney could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Raabe is among more than a dozen witnesses scheduled to appear at the fourth hearing of the state Senate Special Committee on Local Government Investments. The all-day hearing is Friday at Irvine City Hall.
It will be Raabe's second appearance before the panel. In January, he testified that he had only a small role in shepherding the county's investment pool. But in the weeks after the January hearing, Raabe came under increasing scrutiny as outside accountants discovered irregularities--and possible illegalities--in the $7.4-billion pool the county managed for itself and more than 190 local agencies.
Raabe was placed on paid leave last month when accountants found that at least $70 million in interest due local schools, cities and special districts had been diverted to a county-controlled account. That revelation and others prompted one member of the Senate committee, Sen. Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco), to charge that Raabe had committed perjury before the panel.
The senators are expected to grill Raabe in light of the new disclosures. But most Capitol insiders say they don't expect to learn much, predicting that Raabe, who is the subject of a criminal investigation, will plead the Fifth Amendment to keep from incriminating himself.
The hearing is expected to focus on the county's bankruptcy declaration and how it has affected everyone from county workers to large agencies such as the county transportation authority.
Among those scheduled to appear are William J. Popejoy, the county's interim chief executive officer; Bruce Bennett, the county's bankruptcy attorney who played a leading role in prodding the county to file for protection from its creditors, and several representatives of local agencies with money in the investment pool, including Huntington Beach City Atty. Gail C. Hutton.
In addition, a broad panel representing the county labor force will appear, as will representatives of institutional investors. John M.W. Moorlach, the Costa Mesa accountant who predicted the problems that hit the county portfolio while unsuccessfully running for county treasurer last spring, will talk about the need to avoid raising taxes as the county tries to recover.
Also on the agenda are a pair of Orange County Register editorial writers, who were invited to voice their anti-tax views by Sen. John R. Lewis (R-Orange). The scheduled appearance of Ken Grubbs and John Seiler drew a mild protest from Kopp, who said he was troubled by the planned appearance of the journalists and planned to talk with Lewis about it. "I don't think that's appropriate," Kopp said. "The Fourth Estate is supposed to report, not create news."
Lewis, meanwhile, was sticking by his guns.
"John really feels it's important to show that there's some major establishment voices in Orange County against a tax increase," said Christopher Jones, Lewis' chief of staff. "In Orange County, the Register serves as a leading anti-tax organ. We felt it was very legitimate to include them."