Contra Costa County, Ca., District Attorney Mark Peterson resigned in a plea deal cut on the same day state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 13 felony charges against him in connection with his admitted use of $66,000 in campaign funds for personal expenditures, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Hours after filing the criminal case, state prosecutors agreed to drop 12 charges in exchange for Peterson’s resignation and his agreement to plead no contest to one count of perjury for making false statements on state campaign disclosure forms. Judge Theresa Canepa found him guilty and ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service and serve three years of probation.
The actions brought a remarkably swift conclusion to a rare criminal case filed by state prosecutors against an elected county district attorney. Peterson was seeking a third term when state prosecutors said they were in the midst of a criminal investigation related to his campaign funds. Investigators served a search warrant at his office, and an affidavit showed they were seeking personal email, bank records, calendars and personal electronic devices that might contain evidence that Peterson engaged in perjury, embezzlement, fraud or grand theft. The state attorney general’s office opened its criminal investigation after the state Fair Political Practices Commission fined Peterson $45,000 for using his political account to pay for non-campaign related expenses, including meals, gas, clothes, movie tickets, hotels and phone bills.