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By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
(Commerce) Hews Media Group-Community News has received a copy of a response letter written by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey that confirmed that Central Basin Municipal Water District Board President James Roybal leaked a confidential internal document to the Whittier Daily News pertaining to a closed session discussion about former Interim Chief Operating Officer Chuck Fuentes.
The letter was in response to a complaint sent to the DA that alleged improper disclosure of confidential information approved in a closed session, which is a violation of Government Code Section 54956.9.
The letter stated, “based upon a June 3 (2013) memorandum from (CBMWD GM) Tony Perez, it would appear the details of the agreement disclosed to the WDN were subject to confidentiality clause and were not to be released.”
Fuentes was fired from the agency in December by a new voting Board majority that consists of Director Leticia Vasquez, Director Robert Apodaca and Roybal.
In the letter, the District Attorney declined to take action on the disclosure, referring the matter back to the embroiled agency that has been a focal point of a massive investigation by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the past several months.
The District Attorney cited the California Government Code 54963 that states “violations can result in disciplinary action against the employee who willfully disclosed confidential information and/or referral of the member to the grand jury.”
HMG-CN has learned that, based on the response letter from the District Attorney, the CBMWD Ethics Committee will convene a meeting this Friday Aug 16 at 10 a.m. to investigate the allegations against Roybal.
The Ethics Committee is composed of two District Directors, Phil Hawkins of Cerritos and Art Chacon of Commerce along with General Manager Tony Perez, as well as the agencies Human Resource Manager, Board Secretary, District General Counsel, and other district employees.
If Roybal is determined to have violated any part of the state statues by the group, the matter could be referred to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the California Attorney General, or back to the District Attorney’s office for further action.
“It is very clear that Roybal violated the code,” said one source inside the CBMWD that declined to be identified.
“I cannot see the Ethics Committee not concluding that Roybal violated the code, and that proper action should be taken against him,” the source said.
If the committee does find Roybal in violation, he can appeal the decision within five business days, according to state code.
Sources also tell HMG-CN that the Ethics Committee “will in all likelyhood submit its findings involving Roybal, along with any dissent, to the Board of Directors for action that could take place as early as next week.”
“At this point I am outraged that an elected Director of the Central Basin Municipal Water District has blatantly broken the law,” Hawkins said in an interview with HNG-CN on Wednesday afternoon.
Hawkins said he will ask the Central Basin’s attorney for “a list of options on what action we can take against Director Roybal.”
“Roybal is an elected official. He is putting the district in jeopardy. We need to take action in this situation as soon as possible,” said Hawkins.
“Once we have the investigation, we will determine if he should resign,” said Hawkins.
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