By Steve Large

SACRAMENTO (CBS13/AP) — A sworn court declaration says a former state parks employee told state attorneys earlier this year that her department was hiding $20 million in a special fund, months before administration officials say they discovered the surplus money.

The employee, Cheryl Taylor, said she also told a representative of the state attorney general’s office in January that the state parks’ budget manager had warned employees not to disclose the underreporting. A copy of her declaration, filed Tuesday, was obtained by CBS13.

The governor’s office says it first learned of the secret funds from news reports in July.

But Taylor’s testimony shows the AG’s office came to her six months earlier in January and then again in April.

“They asked me if I was aware of any inappropriate use of funding by Mr. Lopez. I told them that I was aware of the underreporting of funds but that I was directed by Mr. Lopez not to report this information.”

Mr. Lopez is Manuel Lopez, the former parks department manager now at the center of the $54 million parks department money scandal.

The resources agency, which oversees state parks, said it discovered the hidden money in July in two special funds.

It was not clear what the state attorneys did with the information, and their agencies would not comment.

The development is the latest revelation in an evolving scandal involving state special funds.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or
redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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