Maria and Paavo: Divorce papers allege long-term affair, drug use
July 11, 2011
By KAREN VELIE and KARLEE PRAZAK
The For Sale sign, vacant driveway, and unkempt yard at the Los Osos house of Maria Kelly says a great deal about her current living situation.
The recent divorce filing of Kelly, a Los Osos Community Service District board member who resigned abruptly last month, among other things suggests details of two public officials allegedly failing to comply with residence laws and ethics rules.
Divorce records obtained by CalCoastNews support allegations that an affair between San Luis Obispo County Public Works director Paavo Ogren, a man helping to negotiate a bankruptcy settlement for the county with the Los Osos CSD, and board member Kelly did not start six months ago as the couple insists.
Kelly’s husband, Shaun Kelly, said he suspected the affair for two to three years, but was rebuffed until Maria Kelly announced she was leaving him for Ogren in July 2010.
Maria Kelly’s voting record on issues involving the district’s bankruptcy while dating Ogren has members of the district wanting her votes in closed session tallied and reconsidered because of a perceived conflict of interest. For years, Maria Kelly would speak strongly in favor of Ogren’s agenda while bringing home-cooked meals to closed session meetings for her fellow board members’ enjoyment.
The county is providing liquidity for the district’s bankruptcy. It has negotiated the procurement of the solid waste franchise, which amounts to $160,000 a year, from the Los Osos District board. After the district has paid off its debts, the county is slated to continue to receive revenue from the franchise.
While on the board, Maria Kelly advocated for the transfer of fees to the county.
As suspicions grew that she no longer lived in Los Osos, a requirement to serve on the board, Maria Kelly abruptly stepped down from her position as vice president of the CSD on June 17.
State and local laws require elected officials to step down within two weeks of changing their primary residence. Residency is determined by where a person primarily stays.
Maria Kelly’s decision followed a highly-publicized June 14 accident when Ogren’s son drove a car down a 20-foot embankment into the San Luis Creek with three other teens as passengers, including the Kelly’s eldest son.
Shaun Kelly has said he did not want his children in a car driven by Ogren’s son.
Maria Kelly claims she began dating Ogren about six months ago. Her former husband says she filed for divorce in July 2010 because of her relationship with Ogren.
Maria Kelly also contends she never moved out of her Los Osos home—a statement discounted by court documents filed by Shaun Kelly in May 2010.
“Maria moved out of the family residence in January 2010, ” Shaun Kelly says in the documents. “She moved back in March or April 2010. She used the converted garage as her bedroom until August 2010 when I moved out with the children.”
Currently, the custody agreement says that the Kelly children are to spend alternate weeks with each parent.
On Dec. 7, the divorce between Maria and Shaun Kelly was finalized. Shaun Kelly is now asking for full custody of their three boys, ages 16, 15 and 12 because of allegations of drug use by Ogren, Maria Kelly and both of their eldest sons.
Shaun Kelly alleges that Ogren and Maria Kelly are aware of the oldest Ogren sons’s use of methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy because of several drug tests, including a school test, of the young teen which resulted in his expulsion from school, according to court records.
Shaun Kelly has alleged that this use is allowed, if not condoned, when the children are staying with their mother and/or at Ogren’s house.
He writes in the documents, “(Maria) and I have different approaches to this serious issue. She has a much more permissive style — telling me that they should not use drugs at school but to confine their use of drugs to the weekends.”
The document goes on to say that one son justified such behavior by saying, “He knows of professional adults who use drugs and are successful.”
Additionally, the documents cite several text messages sent between the eldest Kelly child and a friend that suggest their son has reason to believe both Maria Kelly and Ogren use marijuana [several spelling errors corrected]:
Son: “I am pretty sure Maria smokes weed though.”
Friend: “No fucking way! That’s the greatest thing I have ever heard.”
Son: “That’s why she definitely smokes weed. Why else would she buy king-sized joints for Paavo to smoke by himself? I think not.”
Maria Kelly responded by blocking Shaun Kelly’s access to their children’s text messages, court documents say.
Asked to comment on the possible ethical failures and conflict of interest between Ogren and Kelly, county administrator Jim Grant responded by email: “Department heads, elected officials, commissioners and others are required to attend ethics and conflict of interest training every two years. Mr. Ogren attended this training on April 13, 2011.
“Additionally, department head contracts include a provision that, ‘as a public officer, the employee promises to maintain exemplary behavior, both during and outside working hours, so that neither he/she nor his/her relationship with the County shall become a source of discredit to the County, the County Administrator or the Board of Supervisors.’ ”
Grant recently launched an internal investigation into the conflict of interest allegations against Ogren.
Meanwhile, Ogren’s son is presently facing a felony drunk driving charge because of injuries incurred in the June 14 accident.
In addition, the parents of a 17-year-old girl who was injured in the accident asked San Luis Obispo attorney Jeff Stulberg to file a lawsuit against Ogren. The girl suffered a broken arm and a large gash to her back which required many stitches.
“Under California law parents are not vicariously liable for their children,” Stulberg said. “However, where a parent has good reason to believe that child should not be driving, they have unlimited liability.”