Jeff McDonald
By Jeff McDonald |
Jan. 5, 2016 – 5:38 p.m.

The judge who has overseen the matter of the San Onofre nuclear plant failure for the California Public Utilities Commission has stepped down amid the ongoing criminal investigation at the agency.

Commission officials acknowledged the departure of Administrative Law Judge Melanie Darling on Tuesday in response to questions from The San Diego Union-Tribune about a new judge being assigned to the case.

“Judge Darling retired so the case had to be reassigned to another judge,” commission spokeswoman Terrie Prosper said.

The case will now be overseen by Judge Maribeth Bushey.

The move comes after months of reporting from the Union-Tribune and other news organizations that Darling’s actions on San Onofre have come under scrutiny in an ongoing criminal investigation of the commission.

Darling was among 22 commission officials and others whose emails and other personal records were sought in connection with a search warrant executed at the commission’s San Francisco headquarters last spring.

She engaged in several private communications with an executive from plant owner Southern California Edison, including one exchange in which she asked him whether the company wanted to undo the deal that charges utility customers $3.3 billion for the 2012 plant closure.

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