Report: Top parks officials kept $20M hidden

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Officials at the highest level of the California Department of Parks and Recreation helped keep millions of dollars secret for more than a decade, the state attorney general's office said in a report released Friday.

The report said the "intentional non-disclosure" continued because employees feared the department's budget would be cut if lawmakers found out, and that they would be embarrassed about the years of covering it up.

"Throughout this period of intentional non-disclosure, some parks employees consistently requested, without success, that their superiors address the issue," Deputy Attorney General Thomas M. Patton wrote in the report.

Parks Director Ruth Coleman, who had been director since 2002, resigned and a senior parks official was fired last summer after $54 million was found hidden in two special funds even as up to 70 parks faced closure. The report said the actual amount of money intentionally hidden was $20 million.

No employees were found to have stolen or wrongly spent any of the money.

Coleman has denied knowing about the hidden money. She was the only current or former employee who would not agree to be interviewed by the attorney general's office, the report said.