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Fair Board forwards sale information to D.A.

The Orange County Fair Board announced Thursday that it has submitted a packet of information to prosecutors requesting an investigation into the failed effort to sell the fairgrounds.

A letter sent Wednesday to the Orange County District Attorney’s office urges investigators to “conduct all necessary forensic audits” into the 2010 attempt to sell the state-owned fairgrounds to private investors.


Some directors and members of a review committee asked to review documents related to the sale effort have accused various involved parties of conflicts of interest, failing to adhere to best practices and money laundering.

The Fair Sale Review Committee, formed at the board’s request, presented a 17-page report in January criticizing the proposed sale of the 150-acre publicly owned property.


Board directors decided to submit the report to the D.A., who they noted could subpoena documents the volunteer committee could not obtain.

Board and committee representatives met with the D.A.'s special prosecutions unit, which will decide what to do with the report and stacks of supporting documents.

“The first step would be reviewing the information to determine how to proceed,” said Farrah Emami, a D.A. spokeswoman.

The D.A.'s office previously exonerated the Fair Board of any wrongdoing after examining the sale in October 2010.


The board voted unanimously in February to forward its report as a means to move on from the sale.

“We have basically laid out everything to them, per the board’s action,” Board Chairman Douglas La Belle said during a board meeting Thursday. “It is basically now in their hands.”

Meanwhile, the Fair Board may continue its own investigation by demanding documents from contractors it believes had a hand in the proposed sale.

Theresa Sears, a member of the Fair Sale Review Committee, said her requests for information from the companies have been unsuccessful.


She asked that the Fair Board demand to see contracts with law firms and other documents it was party to.

Directors instructed staff to draft a letter for consideration at the Fair Board’s next meeting.

“If we’re going to send them a demand letter we need to be prepared to — if they don’t give us the materials — initiate litigation,” Director Nick Berardino said.

Twitter: @jeremiahdobruck