Former State Parks Employee Fined by Ethics Commission

Byline: Associated Press

SACRAMENTO (AP) — A former California State Parks employee who illegally cashed out thousands of dollars in vacation time for himself and others as the department was struggling with budget deficits must pay a $7,000 fine.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said that Manuel Lopez cashed out about 524 hours of his own vacation time for payments totaling $28,647. The other payouts involved 56 people and totaled $300,000.

They came to light last summer as the state was considering shuttering 70 parks to close budget gaps.

The commission said that Lopez was not allowed to approve such payouts in his capacity as the deputy director of administrative services in the state Department of Parks and Recreation.

Lopez resigned from the department over the scandal. He could not be immediately reached.

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