It's been more than a year since the FBI raided the Coffee Road offices of the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project and the Riverbank home of its former director, Denise Gibbs, and her grant-writer husband, Joe Gibbs.
Since then, nothing. No charges filed, no explanation, no exoneration. Only this, Tuesday from Lauren Horwood of the U.S. attorney's office:
"There is no public information at this time," she said.
Denise Gibbs declined to take my call Wednesday.
SCAP directors fired the couple "for cause" last December, shortly after the FBI and representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's office of inspector general conducted their searches.
The couple ran the agency for eight years, coming under fire for a variety of questionable practices, including $627,300 in compensation awarded to Joe Gibbs in 2010; for the way it handled its finances and Neighborhood Stabilization rental housing; and because employees or relatives were living in homes remodeled at taxpayers' expense.
So, a year having passed, does that mean the case is over? No.
Cases involving money and documentation can take seemingly forever to determine whether a crime has been committed.
The FBI began investigating the Road Dog racketeering and extortion case in 2007, about two months before agents conducted the first of two raids of the Denair motorcycle shop and about eight months before 11 men were indicted by federal authorities.
By the time proceedings ended more than two years later, 10 of the 11 had pleaded guilty, though mostly to lesser charges.
Hickman rancher Frank Craig died in a car crash in April 2004. Stanislaus County sheriff's investigators didn't arrest former Hickman Community Church pastor Doug Porter on suspicion of Craig's murder until Nov. 27, 2006. Why? They first had to obtain and then comb through financial statements, canceled checks and other records to establish money as the reason Porter drove a pickup carrying the 85- year-old rancher who had inherited a fortune from his brother into an irrigation canal. Craig had nearly died in another crash, with Porter also at the wheel, two years earlier. Porter was convicted of murder, elder abuse and theft in August 2008 and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Homicide investi- gations can take years to crack: nine years to arrest Debi Whitlock's killer and eight years to arrest Dena Raley McCluskey's.
Nonviolent fraud and embezzlement crimes also can take a long time to charge and prosecute because victims might go years before realizing a crime has been committed. Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley cited one case that began when a valley woman moved to Arizona and tried to open a bank account in 2011, only to learn someone had used her Social Security number in 2004 to buy a home here.
"Two years on most of our welfare fraud," Shipley said of the time it can take cases to surface.
Federal cases, meanwhile, can stay under the radar for years because the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office rarely, if ever, comment on active investigations.
A year ago, when Horwood confirmed that "FBI agents are searching those locations," meaning the SCAP offices and the Gibbses' home, it was far more than reporters are accustomed to hearing from the feds.
More often than not, they neither confirm nor deny actions even when the FBI conducts its raids in broad daylight and in public view.
An official of Community Impact Central Valley, the Modesto nonprofit formerly known as SCAP, said the agency has had no contact with federal investigators since the Dec. 7, 2011, raid.
So presuming, guessing or predicting whether the feds will or won't proceed with a case against the Gibbses is an exercise in futility.
There either will be an indictment someday, or no comment at all. Consider it a case of "Case? What case?"
Or, as Horwood said Tuesday, "There is no public information at this time."
Read into that what you will.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @jeffjardine57 on Twitter or at (209) 578-2383.