No charges will be filed against California City Police Chief following theft allegations

Posted at 1:37 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-14 04:04:36-04

District Attorney Lisa Green and the Kern County Sheriff's Office completed the investigation into alleged property theft from the California City Police Department by Cal City Police Chief Eric Hurtado.

The District Attorney determined there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the property was taken with criminal intent.

No charges will be filed, and the release detailing the decision can be read on the next page.

Supporters of Hurtado gathered at the California City city council meeting on Tuesday to present a petition that had gathered over 500 signatures pushing for Hurtado's reinstatement.

Mayor Jennifer Wood and City Manager Tom Weil were both absent from the meeting, but the council said that Weil will be meeting with Hurtado on Wednesday, and that Hurtado could be reinstated as soon as Wednesday as well.

The DA's Office released issued a press release detailing the allegations:

On October 23, 2016, California City Police Chief Eric Hurtado and his brother, Rick Hurtado, were seen removing desks from the police department building. These desks were later discovered in the office of a private security company where Rick Hurtado was an employee. Based on this information, the Public Integrity Unit of the District Attorney's Office began an investigation.

About one month prior to the removal of the desks, California City (City) passed an ordinance that allowed interested persons to apply for a license to operate medical marijuana businesses. This application process included a background check on the proposed business's owners. Due to the size of the Police Department, Chief Hurtado wanted to hire outside contractors to perform this work. Chief Hurtado planned to use office space at the airport, which is owned by the City, but did not yet have City approval to hire the investigators. He asked the airport manager to let him know if someone else was interested in the space before renting it out to them.

Sometime later, a security company approached the airport about renting office space. Chief Hurtado told the airport manager they could have the space as another airport office tenant would soon be moving out and he was still waiting for the City to approve the hiring of the investigator positions. According to Rick Hurtado, the desks were moved to.

Although the desks were found on private property, there is insufficient evidence to show an intent to deprive the City of its property. The claim that the desks were moved to the airport in anticipation of their use at the future City office space is plausible. Since the desks were quickly recovered during the investigation, it is impossible to know whether this would have occurred or not.

Based on all the available evidence, it is unlikely that a jury would be unanimously convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Chief Hurtado stole or otherwise misappropriated City property.

RELATED: California City Police Chief Eric Hurtado placed on administrative leave