By Fred Obee
An investigation into former County Administrative Officer Ben Angove will be handled by the state Attorney Generals office, Del Norte County District Attorney Bob Drossel announced yesterday.
I know I could make appropriate decisions on the case, however, I feel that it is best to have the Attorney Generals office review the case, Drossel said in a prepared statement.
Drossel said because his office reported to Angove when he held the countys top administrative post, and because Drossel and Angove served on committees together, going further in the investigation would raise conflicts of interest.
I have advised Sheriff (Jim) Maready of the A.G. decision, Drossel said.
Beyond that brief statement, Drossel said he would have no further comment on the investigation, which has been shrouded in official secrecy since Angove abruptly resigned Sept. 20 just ahead of a search of his office computer by the police.
Despite official requests to the sheriff, the county counsel and Drossels office by the Daily Triplicate, virtually all access to official files has been denied.
Drossel, however, has confirmed the investigation into Angove is linked to two women, who were charged last month with extortion.
The only official document released by government officials in the case was a administrative subpoena allowing police to seize the hard drive on Angoves computer.
I have reasonable cause to believe that felony and or misdemeanor crimes have been committed by Ben Angove, said the subpoena, signed by Det. Pat Martin of the Del Norte County Sheriffs Department.
Angove has not been arrested, but the two women charged with extortion, Bobbie Hibshman and Kristine Rathbone, have said that Angove had a romantic relationship with Hibshman and both women knew him.
According to the two women, law enforcement officials believe the women attempted to extort $1,000 from Angove. A letter written by one of the women was given to the police as evidence.
The women said, though, that the letter was simply one of many they wrote all at once as a sort of self-therapy, after Hibshman ended her affair with the executive.
Throughout his relationship with the women, Rathbone said Angove bragged of his political clout in the community, and that scared her.
At one point he said Who do you think they will listen to, you or me, and I said Yeah, youve got a point there, Rathbone said. Her husband is nearing parole at Pelican Bay State Prison.
Rathbones and Hibshmans arraignment is set for Oct. 16. It is not known if the arraignments will take place as planned, now that the state District Attorney is involved.