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Exclusive: Central Basin Director Leticia Vasquez Under Investigation by FPPC for Whistleblower Lawsuit Vote and Residency Issues

By Brian Hews

HMG-CN has exclusively learned that the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has opened an investigation into embattled Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) Director Leticia Vasquez and her illegal CB Board vote to approve waiving the attorney-client privilege in the Qui Tam “Whistleblower” lawsuit against CB.

Vasquez is a “party plaintiff” in the whistleblower case.

See court documents (look on pages 20,21) click here.

In addition, CB sources told HMG-CN that the FPPC and investigators are looking into whether Vasquez actually lived in her district when she ran for the seat in 2012.

A letter from an investigator from the FPPC obtained by HMG-CN asked for several items related to the whistleblower case.

The investigator requested the “Agenda Packet, Agenda and Minutes for the October 9, 2004 meeting concerning the Qui Tam case, bc518653.”

He also requested “the date of the board vote to waive attorney-client privilege regarding the Qui Tam case.”

Two other items that the investigator asked for, seemingly unrelated to the Qui Tam case but items that point to a residency investigation, were “the date Vasquez was elected to the board and the date Vasquez took office.”

Sources inside CB confirmed to HMG-CN that the FPPC asked for documentation signed by Vasquez attesting to her residency in Lynwood.

 


 

Vaquez FPPC


 

 

Illegal Vote Investigation

In Oct 2014, HMG-CN exclusively obtained a legal opinion written by Paul Chan of the Los Angeles law firm of Bird-Marella, slamming CB Director Leticia Vasquez’ October 9, 2014 vote to waive attorney-client privilege so the whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2013 can go forward.

See letter click here.

Chan was hired as legal counsel for Buchalter-Nemer, one of the defendants named in the whistleblower lawsuit.

Among other things, the opinion clearly warned Vasquez that she was financially conflicted, and should she or any of the ‘legacy’ Board members (Bob Apodaca, Phil Hawkins or Art Chacon) take a vote to waive privilege, they would be liable.

Chan said in the opinion, “We write to advise you that if the current board votes to waive the attorney-client privilege it is our view that such a waiver would be ineffective and that Leticia Vasquez’ participation in such a vote would violate California law.”

Chan went on to say, “Miss Vasquez has a direct personal and financial interest in advocating and voting for the district to waive its attorney-client privilege and is in violation of California Government Code 87100 which states, “no public official at any level of state or local government shall make, participate in making, or in any way attempt to use  her official position to influence a governmental decision in which  she knows or has reason to know she has a financial interest.”

Vasquez, Roybal, and Apodaca voted to waive the privilege despite the warning, with Directors Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins walking out of the board room in protest.

Vasquez stands to make over $2 million if successful in her lawsuit, filed against the very agency she was elected to serve two years ago.

According to a recent CB audit, the lawsuit has cost the agency over $270,000 in fees as of June 2014.

See story click here.

Residency Investigation

The other items requested by the FPPC, the date which she was elected and the date she took office, point to a residency investigation, confirmed to HMG-CN by sources inside CB.

Since early 2013, HMG-CN has published several articles on CB about Vasquez and two other board members, Bob Apodaca and James Roybal.

Posting the stories in print and online garnered major attention in Vasquez’ district and especially in the city of Lynwood where she resides.

Several residents who said they lived very near Vasquez told HMG-CN via email, phone, and posting comments on loscerritosnews.net that they rarely saw her at her house in Lynwood.

“She would only come by the house about once a week,” a source that wanted anonymity said in an email sent to HMG-CN, “her family members live there, she does not, you need to investigate this.”

Some accused Vasquez of living with her boyfriend, now husband, attorney Ron Wilson who lives in Central Los Angeles.

Past Issues

Vasquez has been a lightning rod since she was elected as a CB Director in 2012.

Joining Directors Roybal and Apodaca, she formed a new majority and fired COO Chuck Fuentes and Assistant GM Ron Bielke for no reason, both of whom were looking into the now infamous $2.5 million “slush fund” and contracts given to Pasadena based Pacifica Services.

See story click here.

Vasquez Campaign Financed by Convicted Felon

In Feb. 2013 HMG-CN exclusively reported that Vasquez, who campaigned on ridding the troubled water district of corruption, received extremely heavy financial support from two individuals with substantial criminal backgrounds, Angel Gonzales and Rick Mayer.

Gonzales, who plead down from a felony to a misdemeanor was convicted on political corruption charges and Mayer is a convicted felon.

Vasquez declared paying her political campaign manager Gonzalez $4,000 before the actual June 5, 2012 election and owing him another $18,399.

Documents also showed that some of the $31,146 she amassed came from the same special interest groups that she vigorously campaigned to root out.

Tom and Ron Calderon gave $2,250 while Vasquez’ own mailer criticized Tom Calderon for being a  paid consultant for CBMWD.

See story click here.

Pay-to-Play

After the election with her new-found majority Vasquez was caught handing out sole-source contracts to benefit longtime personal associates including Maurice Chenier, the law office partner of her husband Ron Wilson, and another close personal associate Jasmyne Cannick.

Chenier was hired as a special attorney and Jasmyne Cannick as a media consultant by the CB in early 2013 raising ire from Directors Chacon and  Hawkins.

Chacon suspected that the two were awarded the lucrative work because of their close ties to Vasquez, telling HMG-CN in a series of interviews, “the District apparently has added yet another lawyer and for some unknown reason some sort of media relations specialist, whatever that means.”

Hawkins was even more outspoken telling HMG-CN, “the very first board meeting, after she was elected, I said her whole plan was basically to hire all her (Vasquez) campaign team, friends, and relatives and put them on staff so they would be ready for her next campaign, and it is all coming true now.”

Hawkins went on to say that, “for no reason they fired our attorney, COO, and assistant manager, now its time to fill those positions with her cronies.”

See story click here.

Pacifica Services

 When Vazquez voted to fire Fuentes and Bielke earlier in the year, the firing stopped an investigation into eight no-bid contract extensions worth over $5 million given to Pacifica Services and its CEO Ernie Camacho.

The vote was 3-2, with longtime member Bob Apodaca, who is related by marriage to Ernie Camacho, Vasquez and James Roybal voting to terminate.

According to California State Conflict of Interest disclosure filings, Roybal, Vasquez and Apodaca have accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Pacifica Services and another firm MLJ Property Management that is located at the same address as Pacifica in Pasadena.

HMG-CN confirmed that MLJ is the first initials of Ernie Camacho’s three children, Michael, Lisa and Jeffery, who gave $5,000 each to Roybal and Vasquez.

See story click here.

Removed New General Manager

In July 2013 Vasquez, Roybal and Apodaca formed a committee to “evaluate” new CB General Manager Tony Perez.

The committee was formed immediately after Perez suspended all contracts with Pacifica.

Perez determined that the 8th amendment effective June 25, 2012 provided no additional board approved funding and that since November 2012, Pacifica was being paid for work that the elected board had not voted to fund.

According to sources familiar with Pacifica and the CB, that is when the process to fire Perez started.

He was eventually fired in late 2014.

See story click here.

Derailed Pacifica Lawsuit

In August Vasquez, Roybal and Apodaca along with retired GM Art Aguilar, purposely attempted to sink their own District’s case against Pacifica Services.

At a Special Board meeting attended only by Roybal, Apodaca, and Vasquez, the three inexplicably fired its legal counsel, Grant Burton, who had been successfully litigating the District’s case against Pacifica.

Hawkins, who represents the Cerritos area, stated that the “Roybal Three” have “no logical reason” to fire Burton and his firm Cohen & Burge LLP.

“Grant retired recently after more than 20 years with Metropolitan Water where he served as their in-house litigator. He has shown to be successful in proving CB’s case to the court.  Grant is the best of the best and he was winning our case as evidenced by the court rejecting Pacifica’s request to throw the case out on December 30th. This shows we have a great case against Pacifica, the firing makes no sense at all, unless you look at the contributions,” Hawkins told HMG-CN in an interview.

See story click here.

 Vasquez Shakedown Meeting

In March 2014, HMG-CN was first to report that Vasquez sent a “personal friend” to represent her to secretly negotiate a “yes” CB Board vote for settlement in favor of the Pacifica Services lawsuit.

Sources inside Pacifica confirmed that Vasquez’ representative met in Pasadena at least twice to broker the vote from Vasquez.

CB’s suit against Pacifica was potentially worth upwards of $5 million to the agency. According to sources, Pacifica may not have possessed the necessary California State License to contract with public agencies while doing work for CB. If that was the case, fraud may have been committed by Pacifica and CB could sue for the entire $5 million.

See story click here.

 Allegedly Leaked a Federal Subpoena

 Sources are also telling HMG-CN that Vasquez is under investigation for allegedly leaking a federal subpoena related to former GM Art Aguilar.

HMG-CN obtained through a public records request copies of a CB subpoena given to the Metropolitan Water District during public comments by political activist Lorraine Cervantes, that showed the subpoena Cervantes gave out was altered.

Cervantes, a good friend of  Vasquez’, told HMG-CN that she “went down to the courthouse and got the documents,” a statement now confirmed to be a lie.

According to sources inside CB, only two people were given the original subpoena; Director Vasquez and Director James Roybal.

Only Vasquez knows Cervantes. Vasquez and Cervantes previously worked together.

Vasquez refused to answer direct questions about how Ms. Cervantes obtained the forged subpoena.

“We’ll see where this investigation goes,” said CB Director Art Chacon. “We got that letter from the law firm saying that her vote was illegal, yet her Roybal, and Apodaca voted to waive the attorney client privilege for the whistleblower lawsuit, now the FPPC is asking for documents related to that vote. This does not look good for Vasquez.”

Ron Beilke, former Assistant to the General Manager at Central Basin, stated that he has filed numerous complaints against Vasquez with both the Los Angeles District Attorney and FPPC.

According to Beilke, “Vasquez comes from a Southeast political culture where personally enriching yourself and close political allies is why you run for office.  She did that in Lynwood and was recalled from the city council.”

Since being elected to Central Basin, Beilke claims, “Vasquez has steered illegal sole source contracts to friends like Jasmyne Cannick and Maurice Chenier. She has falsely claimed that she discovered the $2.7 “slush fund” to seek a big payday. She has lied about her true place of residency, she has flat out lied and concealed the true source of two of her political fundraisers and she continually fires competent, honest employees. Now she is attempting to replace general counsel with more of her Southeast pals who will play her kickback game.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why is this whole den of vipers not removed and/or jailed? The state and federal government needs to come in and remove all ‘officials’ there and START over! This agency is now and always was, dysfunctional in all regards! I am astounded any work, and I use the term very loosely, is ever performed! When are there to be any indictments and arrests in this place? Criminal corruption and graft is rampant! CLEAN UP THIS SNAKE PIT!

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This woman is scum! Bob Apodaca is scum! James Roybal is scum! With so much scum at Central Basin Water it’s amazing everyone is getting sick from their polluted water! Shut that place down…let the County of LA run it.