RICHMOND -- Misuse of public resources by the city's second-highest-ranked administrator won't result in criminal proceedings.
The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office announced late Friday that it will not file charges against Richmond Human Resources Director Leslie Knight, who announced her retirement last month amid mounting public outcry. An independent investigation found that Knight misused public funds, including collecting thousands in car allowances, while also using a public vehicle.
"While some of the allegations are baseless, a few raise issues of judgment and supervision," the office of District Attorney Mark Peterson said. "Nevertheless, based upon a review of the entire matter, this office has determined there is insufficient evidence to prove criminal intent for any of the actions alleged."
In August 2012, a finance manager in the Library and Cultural Services Department, Stacie Plummer, lodged a complaint, alleging that Knight was stealing from the city and using public resources to enhance her jewelry business, called "Little Luxuries."
The city paid more than $65,000 to hire a law firm to investigate. Investigators concluded that Knight, 58, used a city fleet vehicle for seven years, while also collecting a $450-per-month car allowance; spent between less than 10 percent and 30 percent of each work day for "personal purposes"; and directed a subordinate to access the email of the whistle-blower.
Knight also, according to the documents, "used city-compensated staff time, city equipment, city storage space and the City Hall address for purposes indirectly involving her personal jewelry and gift business."
Knight's base salary in 2011 was more than $220,000, according to this newspaper's public salary database. Knight's retirement is effective July 1. City Manager Bill Lindsay said she has used accrued leave time and sick days.
Lindsay said Friday he is "glad we seem to be getting closure on this issue, and I hope we do."
Union activists and residents have expressed outrage, mostly at Lindsay for not firing Knight or putting her on leave. "The decision to not prosecute Knight sends a message to the residents of West County that there is a double standard of justice, one for the rich and connected and another for poor and hardworking people," Richmond resident Charles Smith said.