A July 29 letter from District Attorney Vern Pierson to Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Briggs revealed there may be more conflicts of interest in the Ray Nutting case.
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“Last week our office discovered that District 2 Supervisor Nutting applied to be certified for Public Housing (Section 8), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a landlord for property he owns in El Dorado County,” the letter read. County staff had “correctly” rejected the request on Aug. 31, 2010, due to “statutory conflict of interest.”
Pierson continued, “As a supervisor he also sits on the Public Housing Authority, and the federal regulations state that no member of the PHA is eligible to receive Section 8 funds as a landlord.”
Records indicate, Pierson wrote, that Nutting also used his position as supervisor to appeal to the then-director of the county Health and Human Services “who serves the will of this board.” Nutting, Pierson wrote, used official letterhead to obtain $1,400 in rental income from a detached residence in Grizzly Flat, “apparently desperate to secure this rental income.” The letter was sent to the regional HUD director, Stephen Schneller, seeking a waiver “of an obvious conflict of interest. It appears the waiver was never granted under federal law; even if it had been, there is no such waiver of Section 1090 violations under state law.”
In the letter, Nutting wrote that “I have a home in Grizzly flat (sic) that I have owned for four years. My current renter is leaving and I have advertized (sic) my home for rent.” A response to his ad asked if the home would qualify for Section 8, and Nutting said he was “willing to help her with much needed housing.”
“However, I have a conflict of interest as an elected official. My intent is to eliminate the conflict by not voting on any issues dealing with section (sic) 8 housing in El Dorado County. This is a very small part of my overall responsibilities. Most of the vote’s case on this matter are solely to pass through revenue for overall programs. Who is allowed in the program or not is handled at the eligibility determination level and not at the governing board level.” He added that he would abstain from voting due to a conflict of interest as long as the renter remained there, using his house as Section 8 housing.
Pierson sent the letter to Briggs “so that you can take the actions you consider appropriate.” He noted that, at Nutting arraignment hearing in South Lake Tahoe, “Mr. Nutting sought and obtained a postponement of his case even though they were provided discovery and grand jury transcripts in early June and despite the fact that deputy attorney general Peter Williams attempted to set the case for trial. While any defendant is entitled to file all appropriate motions, it is now becoming clear that this case is going to go on for a long time.
“Given the pending charges and this new information and Supervisor Nutting’s seemingly cavalier attitude toward conflicts of interest, I felt an obligation to advise the board.”
Nutting will return to court on Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m. in Department 3 in South Lake Tahoe for a hearing regarding a demurrer and a 995 motion to dismiss charges.