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Former Central Basin Water General Manager Files Lawsuit Against District

CB General Manager Tony Perez.

Former CB General Manager Tony Perez.


Former GM Perez sues District for Retaliation, Defamation and Breach of Contract

By Brian Hews

HMG-CN has exclusively obtained a copy of a lawsuit filed by lawyers of former Central Basin Municipal Water District (CBMWD) General Manager Tony Perez for retaliation, defamation and breach of contract against his former employer.

HMG-CN first reported the story on February 26, 2015 that Perez had filed a Claim for Damages Letter with CBMWD asking for over $8-million for Perez’s wrongful termination and defamation.

See story click here.

In an October 2014 article, HMG-CN reported that Perez had been fired “for cause” by Directors Apodaca, Vasquez and Roybal despite being first offered a 12-month written settlement agreement.

Perez claims he was told that he would have 21-days to review the proposal, and wasn’t informed of his termination until hours later by phone, as he was driving home.

Perez claims he has never been told the reason for his termination.

The lawsuit lists two lawyers as co-counsel representing Perez, Stephen Ball of Ball & Bonholtzer and Tim Sottile of Sottile – Baltaxe.

The inclusion of Tim Sottile adds a jurist to the Perez legal team with prior experience with the District, as Sottile was the lawyer representing former-contractor Sigrid Lopez in Lopez’s sexual battery lawsuit against Board President Bob Apodaca.

The Apodaca suit resulted in a $670,000 settlement payment to Lopez and the subsequent cancelling of the District’s employee liability insurance in June 2014.

The lawsuit alleges that Perez was terminated in part, as retaliation for Perez initiating a false claims lawsuit against former CBMWD contractor, Pacifica Services Inc. (PSI); conducting an investigation into Director Leticia Vasquez’s involvement in the criminal leaking and falsifying of a confidential federal subpoena; and completing an investigation that found Board President Bob Apodaca guilty of 5 of 7 sexual harassment allegations by the aforementioned Sigrid Lopez.

HMG-CN has previously reported that Perez terminated PSI and initiated a lawsuit after it was discovered that PSI had billed over $800,000 above the contractual limit authorized by the CBMWD Board.

HMG-CN also first reported that PSI employees had sent over 16,000-emails of racist and sexually lewd jokes on District time, and billed for time while entertaining former General Manager Art Aguilar on lavish golf trips. Both Aguilar and former director Ed Vasquez have each been fined over $30,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission due to HMG-CN’s story on the unreported golf outings.

See story click here.

PSI has also contributed heavily to Apodaca’s election campaigns, and Apodaca’s common-law wife is the first-cousin of PSI President, Ernie Camacho.

HMG-CN first reported in July 2014 that a confidential federal subpoena had been falsified to slander Director Phil Hawkins, and was publically distributed by a private citizen during a Metropolitan Water District (MWD) Board meeting.

The private citizen, Lorraine Cervantes is a close friend of Leticia Vasquez, who had been replaced by Hawkins as the CBMWD representative to the MWD Board. Sources within the District claim that Vasquez was the only person that had a copy of the subpoena.

In a curious coincidence, Cervantes was discovered dead in her home last week, removing the key witness in the subpoena leak investigation. The cause of Cervantes’ death was not released at the time of this printing.

See story click here.

Additional causes of action included in Perez’s suit are for breach of contract and defamation.

When asked to comment, a water official who asked not to be named said “I can’t believe that these three (Apodaca, Vasquez and voting partner Director Roybal) would be dumb enough to fire Perez as they did. Perez’s reputation is impeccable and he knows everyone. Perez not only knows where all the bodies are buried, he knows the undertaker, the priest and the guy that drove the hearse. Considering you have 2-directors who will support Perez’s allegations, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion how a jury would find.”

Calls to Apodaca, Vasquez and Roybal for comment were not returned.

The District has 30-days to respond to the lawsuit.

See lawsuit click here.

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