Nelson Oliva
Nelson Oliva (Sherry LaVars/Staff file)

HERCULES -- The City Council formally approved a petition to county and state prosecutors asking them to investigate former officials for possible criminal wrongdoing in connection with financial missteps that brought the city to the brink of bankruptcy.

By the time the council voted 5-0 Tuesday night, more than 220 people already had signed the petition online and a handful more had done so in person at City Hall. By midmorning Wednesday, 25 more signatures had been added.

The petition, posted on the website GoPetition since last week, is directed to Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson and state Attorney General Kamala Harris and reads: "We, the duly elected Members of the City Council of the City of Hercules, along with the undersigned citizens of the Hercules Community, want to urge your agencies to conduct a criminal investigation of former Hercules officials." It can be accessed via a link on the home page of the city website, at www.ci.hercules.ca.us. The deadline to sign is at close of business Thursday.

The preamble to the petition, drafted by City Attorney Patrick Tang at the council's direction, singles out Nelson Oliva, who was city manager from April 2007 to January 2011 after serving for several years as an affordable housing consultant to the city followed by a brief stint as assistant city manager. It also urges investigation of other unnamed city officials who may have played a role in failed development deals that led to the city's financial meltdown at the end of the last decade.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission fined Oliva $70,000 in November for conflicts of interest and unreported gifts. The same month, Oliva and his family company, NEO Consulting, agreed to settle a lawsuit with the city for $3.2 million.

Harris and Peterson have not responded to requests for comment. Oliva and his attorney, Richard Ewaniszyk, did not respond to several recent requests for comment.

Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.