SACRAMENTO — A former state parks official said he repeatedly told his superiors about more than $53 million hidden in two accounts that could have been used to help California avoid the threat of closing 70 state parks, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Manuel Lopez, former deputy director of administrative services for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said he informed agency Director Ruth Coleman about a $20 million surplus in the Parks and Recreation Fund at least five times over a span of about five years, The Sacramento Bee reported.
A separate off-highway vehicle fund held another $33.5 million more than had been reported to the state Department of Finance.
Coleman resigned Friday over the situation and accepted overall responsibility but said in a telephone interview Thursday that she had been unaware of the surplus.
"I don't recall being briefed orally or in writing regarding unreported surplus funds," she told The Associated Press. "Had I been aware of these resources, I would have sought to deploy them to keep parks open."