County prosecutors have requested financial documents and any evidence of criminal wrongdoing turned up in an ongoing forensic audit of the $200-million effort to turn a retired military base into an enormous municipal park in Irvine.
The Orange County district attorney’s office cited “a wide range of allegations of misuse of public funds” in its request for the information.
In a letter to audit attorney Anthony Taylor of Aleshire and Wynder, senior assistant D.A. Michael Lubinski requested “copies of interviews, depositions and any supporting documentation” from the ongoing forensic audit.
“Our intent in reaching out to you ... is in no way, shape or form intended to interfere with your process,” Lubinski wrote.
The Irvine City Council authorized the use of subpoenas by auditors to dig further into how more than $200 million was spent on a park that remains largely undeveloped.
The subpoenas weren’t issued as part of a prosecutorial effort, but to make it easier for auditors to gather document and depose those who were involved in the park project.
Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea, who is part of a new council majority that pushed hard for the probe, said she’s pleased the district attorney’s office has decided to add the extra firepower.
“They’ve made it clear they want to partner with us,” she said Friday. “That’s a very positive move in regard to all the information we’ve found so far.”
As the audit has progressed, testimony from prominent figures in the park’s planning have painted a picture of a project beset by waste and cronyism, though the park’s strongest proponents have dismissed those allegations as politically motivated.
Shea said she expected that now that the D.A.’s office is involved, a final audit report may take longer to be released. Previously, the city had said the report was expected to be complete in August.
Jill Cowan writes for Times Community News.
Times Community News correspondent Matt Morrison contributed to this report.