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A Pair of Vindictive Indictments

In a sharp escalation of a running political battle between two elected Mendocino County officials, a felony criminal charge of misappropriation of public funds was filed Friday against County Auditor Chamise Cubbison by District Attorney David Eyster.


Eyster’s filing of criminal charges against Cubbison also names Paula June Kennedy, the county’s former payroll manager who the DA alleges was the recipient of $68,106 in allegedly unauthorized pay.

In a short two-page complaint the District Attorney offers the briefest of explanations behind his decision to charge Cubbison and Kennedy. Eyster contended that the two veteran county employees “knowingly, unlawfully, and serially” misappropriated public funds that were paid out to “defendant Kennedy” and were not authorized by law or by a majority of the sitting Board of Supervisors.

Cubbison’s attorney Chris Andrian of Santa Rosa immediately dismissed Eyster’s contentions against his client late Friday afternoon.

“I have reviewed all the evidence in this case, and I have found nothing to indicate Chamise engaged in any criminal conduct. Among other things there is no assertion by the prosecution Chamise received any personal benefit, or that any of the public funds found their way into her pockets,” said Andrian.

Andrian said on the contrary he believes that “When all the evidence is presented in open court, it will more than vindicate Chamise and will show that she is a loyal, dedicated, and competent public servant.”

Cubbison is believed to have relied on an agreement reached by retiring Auditor Lloyd Weer and her co-defendant, Ms. Kennedy, before she took over as head of the office for not contesting the payments to Kennedy.

Weer could not be reached Friday for comment on his role in a pay deal that led to a criminal complaint.

DA Eyster, his chief Assistant DA Dale Trigg, nor the office’s chief investigator Andrew Alvarado responded to a written request for elaboration on the misappropriation of public funds allegation. Eyster for months now has refused to answer local media inquiries about actions he takes, or the reasons why.

Kennedy, who is known as ‘PJ,’ lives near Elk on the Mendocino Coast. She too could not be reached for comment on the criminal accusation she now faces. 

Kennedy was placed on administrative leave by Cubbison after the pay dispute unfolded, and she eventually was terminated a year later. Kennedy’s pay pact for extra work was originally reached with retiring Weer during the Covid pandemic.

Attorney Andrian said the facts will show that Kennedy performed the work she was paid for no matter the method.

“The county got the benefit, employees were paid, and more importantly, not one dime went into the pocket of Chamise. There is no criminal conduct on her part here,” said Andrian.

Andrian for now declined to weigh in on how an ongoing dispute between the DA and Auditor’s Office under Weer, one that escalated when the Board of Supervisors forced consolidation of the Auditor/Controller and Treasurer/Tax Collector offices, might factor in the DA’s action. Eyster backed the controversial consolidation and launched his criminal investigation after County Supervisors learned of the extra pay to Kennedy. 

Cubbison supporters contend that the DA is waging a vendetta against her because she, and the Auditor before her, have questioned staff travel expenses and his use of asset forfeiture funds from drug-related cases.

Their dispute blew up publicly in September 2021 when retiring Auditor Weer recommended that the Board of Supervisors appoint Cubbison, his top assistant, to fill the 16 months left in his term.

Eyster, in an unprecedented move, appeared at a board meeting where Cubbison’s appointment was to be considered and voiced strident opposition.

The DA publicly argued Cubbison was not the “right person” to fill the Auditor’s position. At that meeting, he distributed two 14-page documents, mostly copies of internal emails that outlined technical aspects of expense reimbursements that Eyster claimed showed the Auditor was wrong and that he was right regarding spending practices.

Cubbison at that stormy session stood her ground, declaring that “the role in the auditor-controller’s office is not always popular.” She also said she would not “be intimidated” into authorizing what she felt were improper payments.

Three months later, with Eyster’s encouragement but over the opposition Cubbison and other experienced county officials, the Board of Supervisors voted in late December 2021 to consolidate the formerly independent elected offices of Auditor-Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector, eliminating one elected county position. Cubbison subsequently ran for election and was elected to lead the combined offices.

Some board members, urged on by Eyster, favor creating a new County Department of Finance to oversee the functions of the combined county offices.

Since the board’s forced consolidation, the combined offices have struggled with staff shortages, an exodus of experienced employees, and new computer systems that have delayed accurate financial reporting and aggravated uncertainty about the county’s true finances.

Cubbison’s office is nearly caught up with two long overdue fiscal reports, but is still dealing with a state audit launched in early September because of Supervisors’ complaints they could not get updated financial reports.

The DA’s new criminal filing tops several months of chaos surrounding the combined offices, and the county’s financial status, and seems likely to add to the uncertainty about the County’s current financial state.

Cubbison and Kennedy are to be arraigned Tuesday in Mendocino County Superior Court on the felony charges Eyster filed against them.


  1. Chuck Dunbar October 18, 2023


    “Seventy-five years ago, Robert Jackson, then Attorney General of the United States, warned in a now-famous speech:
    ‘[t]he prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America.’ Jackson explained that a prosecutor can have citizens investigated and, if he is that kind of person, he can have this done to the tune of public statements and veiled or unveiled intimations…The prosecutor can order arrests, present cases to the grand jury in secret session, and on the basis of his one-sided presentation of the facts, can cause the citizen to be indicted and held for trial. He may dismiss the case before trial, in which case the defense never has a chance to be heard. Or he may go on with a public trial. If he obtains a conviction, the prosecutor can still make recommendations as to sentence, as to whether the prisoner should get probation or a suspended sentence, and after he is put away, as to whether he is a fit subject for parole.” (Jackson 1940, p. 3).

    “The Problems With Prosecutors”
    Annual Review of Criminology Vol 1, 2018, David Alan Sklansky pp 451-469
    (I mistakenly first posted this piece in another place, but it belongs here)

    • Irv Sutley October 19, 2023

      An excellent summation of a national problem. Compounded by those poverty-stricken defendants who have no hope of retention of an expensive, elitist law firm. Appreciate the “Annual Review of Criminology” page reference.

  2. Chuck Dunbar October 18, 2023

    Conflict of Interest—District Attorneys

    California Code, Penal Code – PEN § 1424 (A) (1)
    “(a)(1) Notice of a motion to disqualify a district attorney from performing an authorized duty shall be served on the district attorney and the Attorney General at least 10 court days before the motion is heard. The notice of motion shall contain a statement of the facts setting forth the grounds for the claimed disqualification and the legal authorities relied upon by the moving party and shall be supported by affidavits of witnesses who are competent to testify to the facts set forth in the affidavit. The district attorney or the Attorney General, or both, may file affidavits in opposition to the motion and may appear at the hearing on the motion and may file with the court hearing the motion a written opinion on the disqualification issue. The judge shall review the affidavits and determine whether or not an evidentiary hearing is necessary. The motion may not be granted unless the evidence shows that a conflict of interest exists that would render it unlikely that the defendant would receive a fair trial…”
    (Again, I mistakenly first posted this piece in another place, but it belongs here)

  3. Chuck Dunbar October 18, 2023


    “Why I Hate Prosecutors”
    by Jonathan Wallace, Attorney at law

    “…Though I no longer spend much time daydreaming about what the ideal society would be,… I do have a very specific idea of the people we would appoint as prosecutors. They would be the people most reluctant to take the job, slow, careful and deliberate, the presumption of innocence hard-wired into their brains. When they stood up in front of a judge and jury and accused a defendant of a crime, they would do so sadly, reluctantly, with complete and painful awareness of the powers and dangers of their role.

    In fact, prosecutors tend to be the opposite personality, sleazy showmen who will bend the facts and the law, exploit every possible gambit of manipulation, press, positioning, dubious eyewitness identification, bad science, paid informants of highly questionable background, arcane evidentiary rules, and just plain mean rhetorical tricks to bury any defendant deeper than his own lawyer can dig him out. Prosecutors not only function as attack dogs, but as dishonest assailants, unconcerned with the rules which are intended to give some measure of protection against the conviction of the innocent…”

    THE ETHICAL SPECTACLE, October, 2007

    • Bruce McEwen October 18, 2023

      Michael Shambrook, a Ukiah defense attorney, put it far more succinctly when he noted “the DA caries a big stick.” All you comfortably smug burghers should bear that in mind as you fling accusations and aspersions at him. He walks all over the superior court judges and anyone who runs against him will be obliged to relocate if they lose. And so the best thing to do is elect him judge over in the Ten Mile Court where the rest of the county won’t have to worry. Josh Rosenfeld could then run for DA. Everyone will be in nirvana with that arrangement, which seems inevitable.

      • Call It As I See It October 18, 2023

        I thought you were a radical? Are you saying you will get on your knees to avoid his big stick.

  4. Lazarus October 18, 2023

    This Eyster vs Cubbison deal is troubling in whatever way you choose to look at it.
    Careers will undoubtedly be damaged, if not ruined.
    But in reality, Ms. Cubbison could take the biggest hit. She’s in the formative, productive years and needs to make money.
    DA DAve is nearing the end of his primetime as the DA. I imagine if he quit today, he’d be okay financially. And if he gets the judge job, it’s all good, just more money and power.

    But for me, it’s hard to believe Ms. Cubbison would knowingly do what she’s been accused of. Especially since she seems to delight in calling the DA and the BoS what most are afraid to say out loud.
    Pissing off, the DA, and the BoS, would be considered living dangerously by most people, including me.

    And then there’s DA Dave, who seems to get off putting up photos of his perfect lawns on social media, as seen on the AVA sheet.
    Not a care in the world… because, after all, he fucks with people’s lives every day, one way or the other, for a living.
    Be well, and good luck.

  5. Bruce McEwen October 18, 2023

    He’s like Hamilton Burger in the Earl Stanley Gardner novels (my poor old widowed mither had the whole collection); Mike Geniella is his Perry Mason.

    • Irv Sutley October 19, 2023

      mither ?

  6. Shannon October 19, 2023

    If you don’t like DA Dave, you better find a candidate to replace him on the next ballot – either as DA or Judge. Otherwise it’s just more whining and sniveling and clutching of pearls as the excrement hits the aspiration device.

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