Four-term El Dorado County Supervisor Ray Nutting was ordered out of office by a judge who said he committed misconduct in office.
Judge Timothy Buckley earlier a few minutes earlier sentenced Nutting to three years probation and 30 days of community service after being found guilty to six misdemeanor counts of soliciting illegal loans to make bail.
Their were gasps in the courtroom when the ruling was made and Nutting seemed shaken when the judge said his seat on the board will now be vacant. He and his wife exited the courthouse quickly without responding to questions by FOX40.
The bail related to four felony counts of not reporting public fire prevention grant he received for clearing brush. The the Board of Supervisors helps to administer the monies. Ironically, he was not convicted of any of those felonies and it’s usually felony convictions that get public officials thrown out of office.
Nutting’s attorney had argued that the bail money was a desperate attempt to get out of jail and that Nutting didn’t consider them standard loans. The money was repaid quickly, in some cases within a few hours. Oddly enough, if his benefactors had paid the bail directly to the jail or court and been reimbursed later, it would not be considered a loan and no law would be broken.
But Judge Buckley said it was plainly against the law to receive loans from county employees and contractors who did business with the county.
“Certainly he’d be likely to look favorably on individuals who helped him get out of jail,” said Buckley, who said Nutting’s judgement could be compromised.
But supporters were outraged.
“This guy represents my district and they’ve taken him out of his job representing me because of some quirk of the law,” said Linda Columbo who was present in court.
Others say the prosecution is politically motivated. Nutting often clashed with El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson.
“That’s all this has been about, to get Ray removed because the District Attorney doesn’t like him,” said Dan Dellinger who was once Nutting’s campaign manager.
But the State Attorney General’s Office also joined in the prosecution team.
“We hold public officials to higher standards. A misdemeanor for a public officials is different than a misdemeanor for your average person off the street,” said assistant Attorney General Paul Williams.
Williams said the people who manage the public’s money have to be held accountable.
Pierson released a statement saying Nutting could have avoided prosecution if he had agreed to resign from office, but he rejected the deal.
Nutting’s attorney said they will appeal the misdemeanor convictions as well as the ruling that Nutting must leave office.