Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson Announce Five Year Prison Sentence for Former El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff

Monday, July 30, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson today announced that a retired El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff was sentenced to five years in state prison for embezzling more than $300,000 over six years from the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff’s Association.

Donald Philip Atkinson, the former president of the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff's Association (DSA), opened bank accounts in his name and submitted forged documents to the DSA to justify payments made to him and his companies. Much of the money was obtained through ATM withdrawals and checks payable to Atkinson, which made his actions difficult for auditors to trace.

“This individual took advantage of his position within the organization by pocketing money that was not intended for personal use,” said Attorney General Harris. “The damage that he caused is widespread and his sentence reflects the seriousness of his crimes.” 

Atkinson was sentenced today in El Dorado County Superior Court on three felony counts of embezzlement, elder fraud and perjury. He was ordered by the court to pay more than $400,000 in restitution. While he is in state prison and on parole, Atkinson has agreed to pay $1,000 per month from his retirement fund to the victims.

The case was investigated by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office with support from the Attorney General’s Office. The investigation showed that Atkinson falsified Fair Political Practice Commission forms and submitted forged documents to DSA.

He also claimed checks were written for charitable purposes, but none of the named organizations and individuals received donations from either Atkinson or the DSA.  Among these charitable organizations was a donation fund for the families of four murdered Oakland police officers.

Several checks drawn from the DSA general fund and signed by Atkinson were used to pay rent for an apartment occupied by a woman with whom he was in a relationship.

Atkinson was also charged with theft from an elder or dependent adult. The victim loaned Atkinson $100,000 to purchase a photography business from a man with cancer. Atkinson had falsified information in the contract he signed, and bank records indicate that none of the victim’s funds was spent for the purpose Atkinson had claimed.

A copy of the complaint is attached to the March press release that announced Atkinson’s arrest: http://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-and-el-dorado-county-district-attorney-vern.

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