DA’s Office Investigating Humboldt County’s Public Administrator’s Office in Regards to Probate Property Being Sold to County Employees

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

Humboldt County Sheriff badgeThis release is to inform the public that Sheriff William Honsal has started an investigation into the current and past practices, policies and procedures of the Public Administrator’s Office relating to the disposal of property under a formal or summary probate case. This investigation is being conducted due to an inquiry and a complaint that was received by the Sheriff and Lt. Ernie Stewart regarding estate property that had been sold to past and current employees of the County.

The time frame of the investigation stretches from prior to the Sheriff’s office transition in 2015 until now. Sheriff Honsal has consulted with District Attorney Maggie Fleming, and this case will be jointly investigated with the DA’s office and an outside independent investigator hired by the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Honsal recognizes that the duties of the county public administrator are vital to the fair and equitable disbursement of a decedent’s estate and to ensure that possessions are dispersed to the rightful heirs as outlined by the Probate Code and Government Code. This extremely important function requires the highest of integrity, ethics, and public trust and immediate policy changes have been made to ensure that the Public Administrator’s actions and duties adhere to those strict legal and ethical standards.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the independent report will be turned over to the District Attorney for review. The Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney will provide additional information within the next 4 weeks.

If anyone has information regarding this case they are encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251.



  • charles engebretson

    What the hell us all that gobbledygook? Liars talk like that…have they been doing something dishonest….selling dead peoples stuff to county employees for a dollar?

    • Aquaman knows the answers

      Part of the public administrators job is to sell dead people’s stuff after they die. This is looking at who bought the stuff and was it priced fairly.

      Before we go all pitchforks and torches let’s let it shake out. They have a whole wall of junk for sale at the coroners, or at least they used to. I used to go by on occasion when I was out hitting up the thrift store in Henderson center.

    • When someone passes away and a probate is done, there are regulations in place as to who gets what, this is with no will, so if there are living heirs they should get what is left behind. It shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder. If there are no living heirs then there is a specified time period that the county has to wait then the property can be sold, disposed of, etc.

  • Throwawaythekey

    Wow. I knew their was fraud going on after my mother died. I hope the county employees receive long prison sentences for this. This is actually a blessing in disguise because any county employees that would commit fraud like this are doing it in their capacity as county employees as well.

  • Deputy Barney Phief

    WAIT TIL ANDY HEARS ABOUT THIS! Where’s my bullet?

  • Hey, just because they got a complaint doesn’t make a crime.

  • How could ANYONE possibly give information about this case since there is no clue what they are talking about. I’m sure they will come to a fine conclusion, Humboldt style. In other words, nothing will be done, a law suit will be filed against the county, the county will refuse to settle and will end up paying huge damages.

  • I am wondering… If a person dies while on state medical insurance their property is to be sold to cover their medical expenses. The properties go on the auction block. Are these properties they are referring to?

  • Although I don’t usually read the Out Post, I did read the interview of Honsal. I am bothered by the statement that an “Independant Investigator” hired by “the Sheriff’s Office” is conducting this investigation. Why pay to hire an investigator when he could have asked for the Ca Department of Justice to handle the investigation for free? So the Sheriff’s Office can control the investigation? When Downey was paid more money for accepting the position of Coroner, didn’t that make him the Public Administrator’s Office? So now Honsal is the Public Administrator right? The Sheriff’s Office Admin and the District Attorney’s Office should be turning this investigation over to the State Justice Department. Gallagos failed to have the Blue Lake PD investigation of Chief Gunderson and evidence room thief Darcie Seals investigated by the Justice Department and look how that turned out. No one faced justice in that case. Too many conflict of interests in that case and too many conflicts of interests in this case. The Board of Supervisors should do what is right and request a review by the Department of Justice. Let the chips fall where they may.

    • Thinking allowed

      If that is possible, it certainly sounds like the best path. Certainly the Lost Coast Outpost deserved much credit for forcing this into the public’s view.

      It seems to have been so casual, this profiting by people who ought to gave darn well known better. The most basic responsibility of the Board of Supervisors should be to ensure that such graft- and that’s what it is- does not happen. Who knows what such lax supervision has allowed in other departments.

  • Please read the LostCoastOutpost’s illuminating interview with the new Sheriff on this (at least the interviewer’s questions are illuminating — the answers are bumbling and evasive !) I hope the D.A.’s office shows more professionalism and integrity in digging down…..

  • The loco article has very specific cases and names and items. Sounds like these guys are absolutely on the hook for breaking these laws. The best part is that the punishment requires them to be fired. This is a great opportunity to clean out the losers who work in this department because their uncle or cousin got them a job. Happy to see real news for once, and a real positive development in attacking local government corruption. This is blatant stuff and they should not be allowed to pull this crap. Don’t let them get away with it.

  • A good example of county corruption- When I was selling real estate in Humboldt Co. the owner of the property committed suicide and his relatives were in the process of selling the house. The dead mans body was still in the house, and the County coroner`s job is to pick up the body. But he told me he would not pick up the dead body unless I gave him the 1998 Toyota truck that was in the yard. He [coroner] stated that it was to difficult to remove the body as it was in a rural area, and would be a hardship for him. I said nothing as I believed it was not my position to say anything. so he came and towed it off the property then he did his job. I do not know if this is an everyday accordance with County government, but it was nuts.

  • wellllllll, misplaced trust and faith in some executers of wills here behind our redwood curtains have done so under their own personal interpretations for longer than my lifetime and many of yours. case and point from past history, the “Lamb Estate” that was failed to be properly dispersed to it’s rightful heirs in the 1940-60s . a can of worms, a can of worms for some of our now fine upstanding pillars of our society possessing it along many others who have ill gotten gains that have been passed on to them as their inheritances. Business as usual for those with whom others unfortunately believed in.
    As for the recent pleadings for understanding and sympathy in the court of public opinion, I have as much sympathy for them as was shown to the rightful owners/heirs……none.

  • Another corruption going on in the county. Am glad an investigation is going on. Unlike the DA having her fingers on the scales of justice with the David Marcus hiring. We need a thorough investigation there. There is quid pro quo or money exchanging hands there.

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