Los Angeles County prosecutors say they will not press criminal charges against former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson in connection to two hit-and-run crashes in southern California's San Gabriel Valley.
"The district attorney's office has declined to file a case against former Secretary of Commerce John Bryson," the district attorney said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore had said previously that no alcohol or illegal substances were found in Bryson's system.
A district attorney's report said Bryson did test positive for Ambien, a prescription drug used as a sleeping aid. His tests showed "low end of therapeutic levels," but a criminalist could not say if it was a factor in the collisions, according to the DA's report.
Bryson resigned from his post last month after the Commerce Department said the crashes were caused by seizures. Police have said all along that they don't believe Bryson was under the influence of alcohol, but were awaiting blood test results before determining what to do with the case. Results of those tests have not been revealed.
Doctors are continuing to evaluate the 68-year-old Bryson in connection with the June 9 incidents. Bryson's neurologist initially diagnosed his condition as a "complex partial seizure," a Commerce Department official said.
A department official previously said Bryson had a "limited recall of the events" surrounding the seizure, which was said to be Bryson's first.
The case and Bryson's resignation have especially drawn interest in America's fishing communities, including in Gloucester and across New England. That's because the now-former secretary never acted on two key fisheries issues tied to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is under the wing of the Department of Commerce.
One was his failure to respond either way to request filed last fall by Gov. Deval Patrick — with backing from U.S. Sen. John Kerry and other Massachusetts lawmakers — asking Commerce to declare an economic "emergency" spawned by NOAA and the Obama administration's catch share management system, which is already consolidating New England's fleet. The management system isblamed for driving 21 of Gloucester's then-96 groundfishing boats out of business in 2010, the first year of catch shares in New England.
Another is his failure to release a report from special investigator Charles B. Swartwood III, who, under the charge of the Commerce Department Inspector General's office, carried out an extensive followup probe into dozens of additional cases of alleged excessive enforcement and other wrongdoing carried out by NOAA enforcement officials against fishermen and related businesses in Gloucester, New England and the Northeast region.
Roberta Blank has been serving as acting secretary since Bryson's June 21 resignation.
The Times was told by Bryson's office last month that the latest Swartwood report, completed and delivered in May, was "undergoing review," but no announcement of its release has been made to date.
Bryson was driving a Lexus on South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. on June 9 when he allegedly rear-ended a Buick as it was waiting for a train to pass, authorities said.
After briefly stopping to talk to the three men inside the Buick, Bryson left the location in the Lexus and then struck the Buick a second time, authorities said. The men followed Bryson's car and called 911 to ask for assistance, according to a police statement.
Bryson continued to drive his Lexus into the town of Rosemead, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, authorities said. There, he allegedly crashed into a second vehicle with two people inside, they said.
Officers found him alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his car, authorities said. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Bryson, who has a home in the Los Angeles-area community of San Marino, was in Southern California on June 7 to give the commencement address at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, the alma mater of his four daughters.
Some students and parents at the school noticed that Bryson, a polished public speaker, made mistakes and had lapses during his remarks. Several people told the Los Angeles Times that Bryson repeated himself and rambled at times. One parent said he mangled words and did not appear to notice.