In one swift move Contra Costa County’s top prosecutor resigned his post after agreeing to plead no contest to a single count of perjury – all part of a plea arrangement struck as the State Attorney General moved to prosecute him for diverting $66,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.
Hours after State Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 13 felony charges against him, now former District Attorney Mark Peterson resigned from office, ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and serve three years probation.
Peterson, who must be booked at the county jail where his prosecutors have sent so many, cannot run for public office while under probation and may face disbarment.
His attorney was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as likening the state’s case against him and Peterson’s subsequent fall to “Shakespearean tragedy.”
Peterson was in the midst of his second term in office and was seeking a third when state prosecutors revealed last week that they were in the midst of a criminal investigation involving his alleged use of campaign funds for personal gain.
Investigators served a search warrant at Peterson’s office, seizing records, computers phones and analog devices that might have contained evidence showing the prosecutor had committed perjury or grand theft.
Investigators reportedly found Peterson used campaign funds for about 600 personal expenditures totaling $66,372, including the purchase of groceries, to pay jewelry store bills and to purchase movie tickets.