State Attorney General will not pursue charges in Coroner-Public Administrator’s Office investigation

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM) — The state attorney general has decided to not pursue charges in their investigation of the Humboldt County Coroner-Public Administrator’s Office.

Back in 2017, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office got an unsigned letter raising concerns over how the Coroner-Public Administrator’s Office was handling property belonging to people who had passed away. That summer, the District Attorney’s office asked for the FBI’s help and also, for the California Attorney General to take the case to avoid any concerns of a conflict of interest.

“The public administrator’s office was doing things that were outside of the law. We brought attention to this, immediately put a stop to that practice, and then alerted the District Attorney and also the Department of Justice,” according the Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal.

While the California DOJ has decided to not pursue criminal charges, HCSO is taking action to ensure the Public Administrator’s division adheres to all regulations and corrects past mistakes. This includes doing a weekly review of all open cases to ensure accuracy, requiring all receipts to identify all parties, have a case number and complete property description, and all staff are staying up to date on education and training requirements.

“We’re ready to move on. There were several properties that were still delayed and basically closing them out, so we’re getting ready to close out those estates right now through the probate system, through the court system, and moving on with our public administrator duties within the county,” Honsal says.

All these steps are to make sure the division is in compliance with the California probate and government code. To read the full letter from the attorney general, you can visit the county’s website.