By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained through a public records request copies of a Central Basin Municipal Water District subpoena given to the Metropolitan Water District during public comments by political activist Lorraine Cervantes, that show the subpoena Cervantes gave out was altered.
HMG-CN can confirm through a 2013 article written by L.A. Times reporter Hector Becerra, who obtained a copy of the original subpoena without a public records request, that the document was indeed altered.
In the article Becerra wrote, “the subpoena was obtained by the Times…with investigators seeking the personnel records of formal CBMWD General Manager Art Aguilar and two elected directors Art Chacon and Robert Apodaca.”
No other CBMWD director names were mentioned by Becerra.
The documents given to MWD by Ms. Cervantes contained the names of Aguilar, Chacon and Apodaca, with three additions, CBMWD President Phil Hawkins, and former Directors Rudy Montalvo and Ed Vasquez.
Cervantes, a good friend of CBMWD Director Leticia Vasquez, told HMG-CN that she “went down to the courthouse and got the documents,” a statement now confirmed to be an obvious lie.
According to sources inside CBMWD, only two people were given the original subpoena; Director Vasquez and Director James Roybal.
Only Vasquez knows Cervantes. Vasquez and Cervantes previously worked together while Cervantes served as a Trustee on the El Camino Community College Board, the same college where Vasquez works as an instructor.
Vasquez refused to answer direct questions about how Ms. Cervantes obtained the forged subpoena.
During the July 8th 2014 MWD meeting, Cervantes addressed the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board of Directors demanding that CBMWD Board President Phil Hawkins be removed.
Hawkins just recently removed Vasquez from her seat on the MWD Board, with sources telling HMG-CN that Vasquez “was incensed” at the removal.
Cervantes waved the now-known altered document in the air saying, “Hawkins should be removed from the MWD Board because he is currently subject of an FBI criminal investigation.”
Officials at the Central Basin Municipal Water District are now demanding that the United States Attorney’s Office as well as the Los Angeles County District Attorney aggressively investigate” this occurred.
The sternly written request to both Andre Birotte, who heads the US Attorney General’s Office here in Los Angeles, as well as District Attorney Jackie Lacey, was signed by Phil Hawkins.
Hawkins, a longtime resident of Cerritos, told Birotte and Lacey in his letter:
“On July 28th 2014, the Central Basin Municipal Water District (CBMWD) Board directed its staff to conduct an investigation into how a copy of a confidential federal grand jury subpoena came into the possession of a private citizen.
The private citizen, Ms. Lorraine Cervantes, addressed the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board during Public Comment on July 8 2014, and then provided a packet of documents, which included a copy of the subpoena, to Metropolitan Water District staff for distribution. MWD then forwarded a copy of the packet to CBMWD.”
“Upon closer inspection of the copy of the subpoena, it was discovered that the document did not match the original subpoena in CBMWD’s files: it appeared the subpoena’s attachment page – which described the information requested by the federal authorities – had been altered to falsely include text and names that were not part of the original subpoena. Moreover, the portion of the cover letter from the prosecutor which instructs that the contents of this subpoena may not be publicly disclosed, and that such disclosure may constitute a violation under the United States criminal code, was missing,” Hawkins continued.
“CBMWD Special Counsel Arent Fox advised the District that tampering with and then distributing a confidential federal subpoena is a very serious criminal act which could be punishable under both federal and state criminal laws, and that law enforcement should be notified. I directed the General Manager to instruct Arent Fox to inform the U.S. Attorney’s office of the fraudulent federal subpoena being distributed by Ms. Cervantes. Arent Fox has informed the District that the U.S. Attorney’s office has been notified of these facts,” Hawkins stressed.
“Unfortunately, it is my opinion that it is highly likely the subpoena in Ms. Cervantes’ possession originated from within the District”’ Hawkins continued.
“Leaking of a subpoena to the public is by itself a serious crime, one which undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of institutions such as the grand jury. But altering a law enforcement document and making false representations about it is especially heinous. Ms. Cervantes’ actions and those guilty of leaking confidential federal documents is an expensive distraction that inhibits the pursuit of the District’s mission, and could expose the District to costly litigation. I am strongly urging law enforcement to aggressively investigate this case, and to prosecute the guilty parties if warranted,” Hawkins wrote.
Hawkins then writes Birotte and Lacey, “This request is driven by sound public policy, and I would greatly appreciate a prompt response. The integrity of our public agency is at question and the possible involvement of any member of the CBMWD is of grave and important public concern.”
CBMWD General Manager Tony Perez told HMG-CN in an interview that he was “shocked, when I first found out about this situation. It is discouraging that this has taken place. We are going to conduct an investigation to find out how this happened, and who was involved.”
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