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Friday, February 28, 2014, 5:15 p.m.
Pacifica Services VP Mike Sisson treated former Central Basin Water GM Art Aguilar to more that twenty golf outings in a 17-month period.
By Brian Hews
Friday could not come quick enough at Central Basin Municipal Water District for former General Manager Art Aguilar and his close friend Mike Sisson, Vice President at Pacifica Services, Inc.
Friday was usually golf day for the pair with outings often including Pacifica Owner/CEO Ernie Camacho, and Scott Hennessey, another employee of Pacifica.
At the time of the golf dates, Pacifica Services was banking millions of dollars in lucrative engineering consulting contracts with the besieged agency that is the focus of a massive criminal probe by the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Internal Revenue Service.
Almost every Friday, Maggie Gomez, administrative assistant at the Commerce-based water utility would book tee times for the group at some of the most exclusive courses in Southern California, with Aguilar always treated and serving as the center of attention.
Talega in San Clemente, Tijeras Creek in Ranch Santa Margarita, Black Gold in Yorba Linda, and Industry Hills in the city of Industry. Most of these courses have green fees over $90 per person, sometimes much more than that figure, and that does not count on-course and after-round food and beverages.
Taking into account the hourly pay rates of those involved, Ernie Camacho (estimate) $500; Sisson $165; Hennesey $125; and Aguilar $100 per hour and adding those to the green fees and the food and beverage, the total could easily reach $6,000.
Worse, the outings would last the entire day with no one from the group going back to work at CBMWD.
Shockingly, CBMWD would be charged for those hours by Pacifica. Aguilar, always invited yet never paying, would relish the perks of being GM and cozy up to one of the district’s biggest vendors, Pacifica Services, a company now suing CBMWD, with CBMWD counter suing for negligence and contract fraud in Superior Court.
But Aguilar forgot something in the process of schmoosing with Camacho and Sisson.
Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained documents through a public record records request that show Aguilar and Sisson taking more than twenty golf outings in a 17-month period, with Aguilar failing to report all but three outings on his Statement of Economic Interest-Form 700.
One source at CBMWD said, “these are the golf dates mentioned in emails, there were many more that were not documented in writing electronically, I can tell you that.”
State laws are clear; failure to report or amend carries a late fine of $10 per day, up to a $100 fine may be assessed. In addition, if a matter is referred to the FPPC Enforcement Division for failure to file or failure to include all required economic interests, the fine may be substantially higher, and could also be subject to criminal prosecution.
According to the Fair Political Practices Commission website Form 700’s are “an important means for the official that files them, the media, and the public to help gauge where potential conflicts of interest may exist. These state mandated forms include information about the sources of an official’s income, investments, business positions, real property holdings and gifts. Merely reporting an economic interest is not a conflict in itself; a conflict arises when an official governmental decision, made by the official, impacts their economic interests.”
The key words here are “impacting their economic interests.” For Aguilar and Pacifica Services, using golf courses to conduct taxpayer business became routine, and standard operating procedure.
In August of 2012, HMG-CN exclusively obtained documents that detailed an orchestrated collaboration between Aguilar, former Interim CBMWD GM Dave Hill, Sisson, and Camacho, showing contracts being altered that were never approved by the Directors at CBMWD.
At the time, the besieged public agency was the focus of a massive criminal probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
HMG-CN also obtained email exchanges between Hill, Camacho, his son Michael Camacho, and Sisson dating back several years that graphically outlined how the private consulting firm leveraged its political clout at the agency outside of the public glare.
The documents outlined how Camacho, Sisson, and Aguilar interfaced via company emails and graphically displayed how the “pay to play” scheme between the agency and Pacifica Services was conducted both at CBMWD and on the golf course.
Based on source inside CBMWD, HMG-CN has made an additional public record request that could further show the depth of control Pacifica and Sisson had over CBMWD and Aguilar.
One CBMWD source who did not want to be identified said, “ Sisson, Aguilar, and Hennessey would go golfing almost every week, blatantly using company resources to schedule their outings, everyone here knew where they were going, Sisson would make sure of that by wearing golf outfits on Friday. They did not care because they had Aguilar in their pocket.”
Calls into Aguilar and Pacifica for comment went unreturned.
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