SACRAMENTO — Finally bringing to a close a five-year-long investigation, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they will not file corruption charges against former state Senate President Don Perata, ostensibly clearing his way for a less politically clouded run for Oakland mayor in 2010.
Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence G. Brown said late Wednesday morning from Sacramento that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice completed their review of the investigation Perata and will not file any criminal charges against him.
“Prosecutors from both this office and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice have reviewed the matter involving Senator Don Perata and have determined not to pursue criminal charges. This office and the Criminal Division in Washington, D.C. worked collaboratively in undertaking this review. Each office reached its decision independently based on our respective analyses of the facts and the law. Beyond that, in accordance with departmental policy, we cannot disclose our deliberative process” Brown stated.
Brown did not provide any further details as to why the high-profile probe of the senator, who represented Oakland and Alameda in SD-09, was dropped. He did, however, defend the propriety of the investigation which has cast a cloud over Perata and his family dating back to 2004 when federal agents raided his Oakland home.
“Our review of this investigation was consistent with the sound exercise of our prosecutorial discretion,” Brown stated.
The former lawmaker said the decision just just proved his long-held claims of innocence.
“This is a complete affirmation of everything I’ve maintained for the last five years – that I’ve acted appropriately in both my professional life and my career in public service,” Perata, 64, told the Associated Press. “Ultimately, I knew that I had done nothing wrong and the truth would win out.”
Forced from the state Senate because of term limits last year, Perata, a former high school civics teacher in Alameda, publicly announced his intention to run for mayor of Oakland in 2010 in March. Mayor Ron Dellums has so far not said whether he will seek re-election.
The federal investigation of Perata started in 2004 when agents raided his home and the home of his son, Nick. Nick Perata ran a political consulting firm that had received tens of thousands of dollars from his dad’s campaigns. The probe widened over time and began to examine the senator’s relationships with campaign donors and whether any of that money made its way back to him in the form of kickbacks.
Follow Jeff Mitchell’s California political journalism at BAPolitix.org