The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection hid $3.6 million rather than depositing it into the state's cash-strapped general fund as required, interviews and documents reviewed by The Times show.
For seven years, Cal Fire placed the money with the nonprofit California District Attorneys Assn., paying the group to hold it. The department used the cash for equipment purchases and training.
The practice ended last year amid questions about whether the fund was legal.
The money came from legal settlements. Cal Fire's own regulations state that the proceeds of such settlements go to the state's general fund.
Read more at the LA Times