State Bar court temporarily suspends former Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson convicted of perjury

Former Contra Costa County DA Mark Peterson

 

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — Former Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson, who was convicted of perjury last month, has been placed on interim suspension from practicing law, the State Bar announced in San Francisco on Friday.

The suspension will last until the administrative State Bar Court determines whether to recommend that Peterson should be permanently disbarred.

After the State Bar makes a recommendation, the California Supreme Court has the final say on whether a lawyer should be disbarred.

Peterson served as district attorney from 2010 until he resigned last month.

He was convicted in Contra Costa County Superior Court on June 14 of one count of perjury for lying on campaign finance disclosure forms. The conviction followed his plea of no contest to the charge.

Peterson resigned from office the same day.

State prosecutors alleged he failed to report spending campaign money on personal expenses, which is illegal.

Superior Court Judge Theresa Canepa sentenced Peterson to three years of probation, 250 hours of community service and a $300 fine.

In a separate case before the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Peterson in December acknowledged spending more than $66,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses such as meals, clothes, hotels, gasoline and cellphone bills between 2011 and 2015.

Peterson said he considered the money to be loans. He paid back the money to his campaign account and agreed to pay the FPPC a $45,000 fine.

His interim suspension from law practice was ordered by the State Bar Court on Wednesday and will take effect on Aug. 21, while the agency begins deciding what type of discipline to recommend.

Normally, lawyers convicted of a crime of “moral turpitude” – defined as dishonesty, corruption or other immorality – are eventually disbarred.

The order signed by State Bar Court Presiding Judge Catherine Purcell says that Peterson was convicted of perjury, “a felony involving moral turpitude.”

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