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Probe of O.C. official closed

Treasurer Chriss Street won't be charged over allegations he steered remodeling projects to favored contractors.

August 08, 2008|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

Orange County prosecutors will not file charges and have closed their investigation into allegations that county Treasurer Chriss Street steered county office remodeling jobs to favored contractors and conducted personal business during work time.

In a letter issued this week, the district attorney's office concluded that allegations that Street violated the law are "not established by the evidence." The letter was sent to county Executive Officer Thomas Mauk, Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Moorlach and Street.

Street, who was already under investigation by federal authorities for his private business dealings involving a bankrupt trucking concern before he became treasurer, came under fire last year for a lavish office remodeling job that cost at least $758,000. It included new, high-end furniture and a floor plan to expand his office and create a small trading floor modeled on those used by investment banks or fund management firms.

Allegations surfaced that he signed fraudulent documents awarding a contract to redesign the outside of his county office building to an Irvine architectural firm and broke down the remodeling contracts into smaller pieces to avoid competitive bidding and steer them to particular suppliers. He also was accused of attending depositions related to the trucking firm on county time.

But prosecutors concluded that the remodeling efforts did not run afoul of the law.

The district attorney's office said Street did not know that the county documents awarding the building redesign job had been falsified by lower-level employees in the county's Department of Public Works, and that the smaller contracts were properly awarded to different contractors for differing individual jobs.

Though Street did attend depositions on four dates when he was on county time, the district attorney's office said it was not a violation of the law because he also did county work on those dates and was thus entitled to his salary.

The status of the federal investigations into Street's private business dealings has not been made clear. Court records made public earlier this year showed that Street was forced to sell his home to cover more than $1 million in legal bills that stemmed from civil litigation alleging that he diverted some of the trucking firm's funds for personal use.

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christian.berthelsen@latimes.com

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