Crime

Former California Valley CSD director cleared of fraud charges

California Valley
California Valley mfountain@thetribunenews.com

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday moved to dismiss election fraud and perjury charges against one of two former California Valley Community Services District board members accused of not living in the district.

Both individuals — former director Misty Lambert and former board president Lisa Marrone — lost their seats to challengers in the November election. Charges against Marrone were dismissed by a judge in October, citing a lack of evidence. The District Attorney’s Office said it dropped charges against Lambert because it believed her case was “less compelling.”

The District Attorney’s Office alleged in September that the women filed papers for re-election in June, and again in August, even though they did not live within the district. Lambert has not commented on the case, but Marrone’s attorney claimed the allegations were politically motivated.

At what was supposed to be an evidentiary hearing Tuesday for Lambert, Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham motioned to have five felony charges of voter registration fraud, perjury, and filing false documents dismissed in the interest of justice.

Cunningham read a prepared statement for the court record, saying the District Attorney’s Office stood by its filing of charges but believed its case against Marrone was stronger.

“ ... (Because) we do not believe that Ms. Marrone ever established a ‘fixed period of habitation’ in California Valley, which we believe is required in order to establish a ‘domicile,’ it is an area of law in which reasonable minds may disagree,” Cunningham said. “In terms of the critical issue of ‘fixed period of habitation,’ the facts in Ms. Lambert’s case are less compelling than those in Ms. Marrone’s case.”

Although Lambert’s case was before a different judge, Cunningham said, “fairness seems to dictate that we not pursue these criminal charges against Ms. Lambert at this time.”

Lambert’s attorney, Jim Royer, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Matt Fountain: 805-781-7909, @MattFountain1

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