Plumas County Human Resources Director Nancy Louise Selvage faces three criminal counts stemming from her alleged activity as a department head on and following May 17, 2022.
Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister filed a criminal complaint for Selvage’s arrest Nov. 16 following a criminal investigation that occurred over many months.
Selvage, 68, will be allowed to surrender Nov. 17 at the Plumas County Correctional Facility to be booked, then released on her own recognizance, Hollister said. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Department 1 of the Plumas County Superior Court.
If convicted on all three charges, Selvage could face up to four years and four months in state prison, Hollister said.
The charges stem from pay raises awarded on May 24, 2022. They specifically involve a 43 percent raise Selvage negotiated and recommended as the HR Director, and then personally received as an employee of Plumas County.
Robert Burns, Selvage’s attorney, said it was too early to comment with any specificity as he was just getting into the case. “When this is done, this will look a lot different than the way it has been presented,” Burns added.
“When this is done, this will look a lot different than the way it has been presented.”Robert Burns, attorney for Nancy Selvage
Hollister said his investigation became more focused after the Plumas County Grand Jury issued its 2022-2023 report. It cited a lack of transparency during Board meetings, specifically mentioning the May 24, 2022 meeting, when the supervisors approved pay increases for county department heads, including Selvage.
During the investigation, Hollister and his office interviewed or contacted more than 15 current and former employees as well as members of the public. He also reviewed hundreds of pages of documents and hours of meetings of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors.
Counts I & II: conflict of interest, obtaining money by false pretenses
The eight-page complaint charges Selvage with conflict of interest, obtaining money by false pretenses and preparing false evidence for the Plumas County Board of Supervisors in her capacity as a county department head.
Count I, conflict of interest, began on May 17, 2022, when Selvage met with the Board in closed session to address an agenda item titled “Conference with Labor Negotiator Regarding Labor Negotiations… Appointed Department Heads.” As labor negotiator, she presented written information supporting a recommendation for pay increases to department heads, including herself, the complaint states.
The recommendations include several pay raises for appointed department heads. The largest was a $51,436 increase – 43 percent – for herself. It applied to the period from May 24, 2022 to Nov. 1, 2023, according to the complaint.
Count II of Hollister’s criminal complaint occurred on or about May 24, 2022. Selvage presented the supervisors with recommendations for pay increases she said were based on a comparison of ten comparable counties. “Instead, the increases were arbitrarily selected,” the complaint states.
Selvage offered a supporting document that included an eight-county comparison but omitted the two counties paying their HR directors the least, Hollister said in his complaint: “In actuality, recommended raises reflected neither the average of the 10 or eight comparison counties.”
The county supervisors relied on Selvage’s “false statement… unanimously approving the pay raises she proposed,” the complaint states.
It further alleges that Selvage falsely told the supervisors the salary increases could be absorbed by each departments’ existing budget. She knew on May 17, 2022 the pay raises would, in fact, result in an increase of $482,969.93 to the Plumas County budget, Hollister said.
“The pay raises would, in fact, result in an increase of $482,969.93 to the Plumas County budget.”David Hollister, Plumas County District Attorney
As a result, Selvage concealed from the supervisors and the public the actual salary increases and their impact, Hollister said in his complaint.
Count III: preparing false documentary evidence
Following her presentation to the Board on May 17, 2022, Selvage collected the documents she provided from the supervisors, Hollister said in the complaint. During the morning hours of May 24, 2022, before the Board’s next meeting, Selvage provided supporting materials and a proposed resolution recommending pay raises for department heads, including herself.
Among the supporting material was a letter to the board “antedated May 17, 2022,” according to the complaint. It outlined and supported her request. That letter, while dated and partially created on May 17, “was actually written with content added between May 20 and May 23, 2023 and printed on May 23,” according to the complaint.
In antedating it, Selvage “intended to conceal” the fact that her board letter and accompanying supporting documents were not submitted on May 17, 2022 with the other materials, but rather on May 24, 2022, “contrary to county policy and California law,” Hollister said.
Hollister raises questions for the Board of Supervisors
Selvage’s alleged activities raise questions about the checks and balances the Plumas supervisors maintain over the documents they use for making decisions and on the material submitted as a basis for decisions. Hollister addressed these and other concerns in a Nov. 16 letter to the Board of Supervisors obtained by The Plumas Sun.
In investigating a case involving public corruption and the misuse of the public’s monies, there is an expectation that public employees will put the public’s interest first. Unfortunately, Hollister said in his letter, he dealt with “evidence not being provided, insolent responses, and two Plumas County department heads refusing to be interviewed during the investigation.”
Hollister urged the Board to consider corrections to avoid future instances that “lessen the confidence our citizens have in their local government.” He suggested annual “360 evaluations” by an outside evaluator for all department heads; strict adherence to both the letter and spirit of the Brown Act; and setting constant and objective standards for hiring for appointed department heads.
Hollister said he is seeking a jury trial that presents public evidence of “larger things that need to be fixed.” Selvage has the right to request a trial before a judge only.