Retired El Dorado County Sheriff's deputy charged with embezzling $300,000

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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A retired El Dorado County deputy has been arrested and charged with suspicion of embezzling more than $300,000 over a six year period. Donald P. Atkinson, who was past president of the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, was arrested March 8 and charged with 44 felony counts, including embezzlement by public or private officer, grand theft, forgery and perjury, according to a press release from Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. “An investigation by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office with assistance from the Attorney General’s Office showed that Atkinson falsified official documents, including Fair Political Practice Commission forms, submitted forged documents to DSA and claimed checks were written for charitable purposes but pocketed the money,” the release states. The investigation was conducted after a request from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Atkinson reportedly used DSA funds to open bank accounts in his name and submitted forged documents to the DSA to justify payments made to himself and his companies, according to the release. “Obviously all members of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, and specifically, the members of the El Dorado County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, feel very betrayed as would any other victim of such a crime,” said El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini. “Everyone is grateful for the thorough investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.” Atkinson also allegedly provided false records indicating that checks for more than $20,000 were written for charitable purposes, including a donation for the families of four murdered Oakland police officers. None of the named organizations and individuals received donations from either Atkinson or the DSA. He reportedly also used embezzled money to pay rent for a female friend’s apartment. Atkinson started his career with the department in 1994 and retired in September 2011. It was brought to D’Agostini’s attention that there were “financial discrepancies” within DSA accounts. D’Agostini reviewed the information and forwarded it on to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office for review. As of press time, Atkinson was being held in the Carson City Jail in Nevada.