BISHOP — A jury convicted former Inyo County Sheriff Donald C. Dorsey on Thursday of charges that he misappropriated more than $230,000 in county funds and lied to investigators.
Dorsey, a former president of the California State Sheriffs Assn., was convicted on eight felony counts, including embezzlement, tax evasion and perjury.
The case stemmed from Dorsey's use of a special sheriff's fund between 1986 and 1991. The prosecution said that of about $260,000 received by Dorsey while he was sheriff of the eastern California county, only about $32,000 was spent on law enforcement activities.
"That leaves around $230,000 in his hands, but that has not been spent on anything identifiable as legitimate," Deputy Atty. Gen. Barry Carlton, the prosecutor, said Thursday. "The conclusion that we draw from that is that he either misused the money or kept the money himself."
Carlton said Dorsey could face up to eight years in prison.
Dorsey said the money had been used for narcotics enforcement activities. His attorney, Inyo County Public Defender Frank Fowles, contended that state law gives the sheriff a great deal of discretion about how funds are expended and that the prosecution had failed to prove that any wrongdoing had occurred.
The jury returned the guilty verdicts after deliberating about 4 1/2 hours. The trial, held in nearby Independence, lasted about two months.
Fowles said Dorsey intends to appeal the verdicts.
The investigation into Dorsey's handling of money was initiated at the request of Inyo County Sheriff Allan B. George, who defeated Dorsey in a 1990 election, and the local district attorney's office. Inyo County Dist. Atty. Buck Gibbons was called as a prosecution witness.
After losing the election in Inyo County, Dorsey was employed as undersheriff of Del Norte County, but was placed on administrative leave after his arrest on the embezzlement charges in 1993.
Dorsey said his prosecution was politically motivated and stemmed from longstanding disputes between his supporters and those of George.