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By Brian Hews
Hews Media Group-Community News has exclusively learned that Montebello City Councilwoman Vanessa Delgado and Central Basin Water (CB) Director Leticia Vasquez met last Wednesday with Cook Hills Properties (Cook) officials, the developer of Montebello Hills, with Vasquez reportedly demanding money in a pay-to-play scheme for her vote on an upcoming CB project.
Sources told HMG-CN that Vasquez demanded campaign donations in exchange for her yes vote on a $552,000 CB contract with Cook.
Vasquez is running for re-election for CB’s District 4 in November of this year.
The vote on the project is scheduled to take place tomorrow (June 27) at the regular CB Board meeting.
HMG-CN was told Councilwoman Delgado, who is heavily supported by Montebello Councilman Jack Hadjinian, and a good friend of Vasquez’, facilitated the meeting between the two parties.
Sources are also telling HMG-CN that CB General Manager Kevin Hunt and a high-level CB engineer received phone calls immediately after the meeting from Cook officials who were “irate that a CB Director would try such a thing.”
When contacted by HMG-CN, Hunt simply stated, “You will have to wait until Monday’s meeting.”
Calls and emails into Delgado and Vasquez went unreturned.
The contract is called the “Montebello Recycled Water Pipeline Expansion” and is estimated to cost $6.545 million divided into two components: Phase 1 estimated at $1,014,600, Phase 2 estimated at $5,530,400.
Per the agreement, CB will split 50% of the Phase 1 pipeline cost of $552,800.
That agreement will be put to vote at tomorrow’s CB board meeting.
Vasquez’ Past Pay-to Play Schemes
This is not the first go-around for Vasquez’ involvement in pay-to-play schemes.
In April 2013, HMG-CN exclusively reported that Vasquez used her newfound majority voting bloc status to benefit longtime personal associates including Maurice Chenier, the law office partner of her husband Ronald N. Wilson, and another close personal associate Jasmyne Cannick.
Chenier was hired as a special attorney and Jasmyne Cannick as a “media consultant” by CB in April 2013. Cannick’s contract was not voted on by the Board, it was approved by then-interim COO Dave Hill at the behest of Vasquez.
In March of 2014, HMG-CN exclusively reported that Vasquez sent a “personal friend” to represent her in the capacity as legal counsel to secretly negotiate a “yes” vote for an $870,000 settlement on what at the time was being referred to as a “shakedown” of Pacifica Services CEO Ernie Camacho.
Thick as Thieves: Delgado Acts Like Vasquez
Delgado, like her friend Vasquez, has a similar checkered past.
A June 2015 HMG-CN investigation found Delgado, who touted herself as a “Montebello home owner and a product of the local community,” had recently moved into the city and changed her address to run for City Council.
HMG-CN also found Delgado, like Vasquez, had personal ties with the Calderon family, and in particular with former California Assemblyman Tom Calderon, who was recently convicted on bribery and money laundering charges along with his brother Ron.
Delgado purchased Tom Calderon’s home in Montebello in 2014, but denied ever knowing Calderon when HMG-CN first discovered the sale.
Delgado finally admitted she knew it was Calderon’s home and had dealings with him after repeated questions and evidence presented by HMG-CN.
Vasquez’ connections to the Calderons have been well chronicled by HMG-CN which include Vasquez’ recent vote to hire a law firm connected to the Calderon family.
Vasquez’ 2012 campaign also received donations from both Ron and Tom Calderon and received heavy funding from convicted felon Ricardo “Ric” Mayer and convicted felon who plead down to a misdemeanor Angel Gonzales, owner of Pyramid Printing.
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