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Central Basin Ethics Committee Findings Prompt GM to Ask FPPC and L.A. District Attorney to Investigate Director Bob Apodaca

Tuesday Oct. 22, 6:00 p.m.

By Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained documents sent by Central Basin Municipal Water District GM Tony Perez to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the Fair Political Practices Commission recommending that each enforcement agency commence an immediate review of allegations against embattled CBMWD Director Bob Apodaca.

The letters were prompted by the findings of the Oct. 3 CBMWD Ethics Committee meeting. Both letters were signed by Perez.

Included with the District’s letters were citizen’s complaints filed in late August against Apodaca.

The complaints detail three allegations involving improper conduct by Apodaca, all in reference to his girlfriend, Whittier City Commissioner Caroline Medrano.

The first complaint alleges Apodaca committed multiple Government Code Section 1090 violations by approving payments by the District to Medrano for floral arrangements totaling over $11,000 from 2003 -2013.

Code 1090 states that….members of the…. district…shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.

A second complaint alleges Apodaca committed insurance fraud by illegally including Medrano on his CBMWD insurance plan. Sources at the District told HMG-CN that former General Manager Art Aguilar aided Apodaca in enrolling Medrano.

The final allegation against Apodaca involves Pacifica Services, Inc. paying Medrano as an employee and/or vendor. Pacifica won a contract in 2007 that was extended eight times on a no-bid basis with Apodaca voting for the initial contract and all eight subsequent no bid extensions.

Pacifica is currently being sued by CBMWD alleging breach of contract, fraud and deceit after having billed an estimated $5 million since 2007.

The filing of these complaints with the District Attorney and the FPPC came after a fierce effort by Board President James Roybal to protect his lone voting ally on the CBMWD Board. Roybal issued two memorandums canceling both Ethics Committee meetings involving Apodaca, disregarding the legal opinion of CBMWD’s own General Counsel who ruled that Roybal did not have the authority to cancel the meetings.

In a highly controversial move, Roybal then removed Director’s Phil Hawkins and Art Chacon from their Ethics Committee positions. Roybal had appointed both of them earlier this year. Roybal subsequently appointed Apodaca and himself to the committee even though Roybal and Apodaca have investigations pending against them.

A determination by the District Attorney against Roybal was referred to the Grand Jury for possible indictment earlier last month.

In response, Director’s Chacon and Hawkins both called for Roybal to be removed as President claiming that “his temper tantrums and erratic behavior are acts of a dictator rather that a Board President.”

The District’s Administrative Code calls for committee changes and removals by the President to come before the Board at a regularly scheduled meeting.

At this time, officials at the District could not confirm that the President intends to follow through with his threats at their October 28th meeting. According to Ethics Committee Chair and former State Assemblyman Hawkins, “I would like to see two responsible Board Members join me in removing Roybal as President at the next meeting. Central Basin has been thoroughly embarrassed by this President’s actions and antics and it must stop soon.”

 

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