Del Norte County sheriff resigns after being charged with voter fraud

A Northern California sheriff resigned Monday, his attorney said, after being charged with three felonies for allegedly filing false voter registration and nomination papers with a nonpermanent address.

Del Norte County Dist. Atty. Katherine Micks on Wednesday charged acting Sheriff Randall Waltz, 62, with perjury, filing false voter registration and false declaration of candidacy. He has disputed the allegations.

Waltz, formerly the county’s undersheriff, had been appointed to the top job in September after his predecessor abruptly resigned. After announcing plans to run in the primary election this June, he listed on his voter registration a Smith River address where he did not permanently reside, court documents say.

He also used the address for his Feb. 14 declaration of candidacy, allegedly violating the elections code by falsely stating to meet the "statutory and residency requirements to run for the office of sheriff," the complaint says.

Late Monday, Waltz submitted his resignation, effective immediately, and also pushed back against the allegations.

"I had never legally ceased being a resident of this County since the County assisted me in relocating here to ultimately become Sheriff," he wrote in his resignation letter addressed to the county's board of supervisors. Waltz was hired as undersheriff in 2020 after working for the Tulare County Sheriff's Office and as an investigator for the Fresno County district attorney's office, according to his hiring announcement.

Although Waltz pushed back against the allegations, he said, "the vigorous defense of these charges will necessarily detract from my ability to perform my duties as Sheriff, and, more importantly, will cast the staff of the Del Norte County Sheriff's Office in a negative light."

In his resignation letter, Waltz said the Smith River address had been legally secured as his permanent residence before he filed the election paperwork.

"This fact is documented by a check I wrote to the owners of the property, which they deposited in January of this year, prior to my filing any paperwork," he said.

Property websites show the Smith River address as a furnished rental on U.S. Highway 101 near the Oregon border. The property owner told the Sacramento Bee that Waltz moved into the unit last month.

"So long as these charges are pending, I believe the purpose for which I entered law enforcement is undermined," Waltz said in his letter, adding that he has "no intention" of collecting payment from the county in the form of paid administrative leave while not being able to perform his duties.

A representative for the district attorney's office could not be reached Monday evening.

An arraignment is scheduled in Del Norte on March 29.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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