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Emails between Vo and Hews show Vo lied in Facebook post, Vo joins Council candidate Bruce Barrows in defaming HMG-CN.
HMG-CN Staff Report
Once again ethics and honesty have taken a backseat in the race to secure a prized Cerritos City Council seat in the upcoming April 11 election.
Hews Media Group-Community News reported last Friday that perennial candidate Bruce Barrows libeled and defamed HMG-CN Publisher Brian Hews in a blistering email sent to his campaign base that was laced with Donald Trump like insults and several accusations that Barrows knew were false.
Barrows has stated he will retract his statement “the next time he sends a campaign email.”
Cerritos resident Elayne Shiohama also participated in the Barrows attack against Hews, with sources telling HMG-CN that Shiohama is angling for a paid Commissioner appointment if Barrows is elected.
Now Cerritos residents can count Torrance Police Detective and council candidate Chuong Vo, and Vo’s campaign manager-who will not admit he is Vo’s campaign manager-Cerritos Commissioner Brad Beach, as additional participants in the libel and defamation campaign meant to discredit and irreparably harm the reputation of HMG-CN.
Vo recently posted on a Facebook page inflammatory and false statements that were very similar to those contained in Barrows’ libelous email.
The members-only Facebook page is called Cerritos One Press; at the time of the post both Vo and Beach were administrators of the page.
Administrators of a Facebook page have complete control; since it is closed Facebook page they can accept or deny members and they can add and delete posts.
In an email Beach said, “I was asked to help vet new members (for Cerritos One Press) since I know a lot of people here from growing up in the City.”
HMG-CN asked to be allowed into the group and was denied; HMG-CN was told that several other Cerritos residents were also denied.
In the defamatory statements, posted on or before Jan. 21, 2017, Vo stated, “So the local community newspaper and owner Brian Hews is trying to influence the city election again to get his candidates and friends in office. [Hews is also] railroading other candidates that won’t give him money. Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper, Brian Hews lied about candidates in his newspaper. And he is doing that again about me because I will not buy advertisements in his newspaper.”
The post, which alleged extortion by Hews, solicited several extremely negative comments that were seen by every member on the Facebook page.
In a long-winded comment, ABCUSD Board Member Lynda Johnson, who is also LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn’s Field Representative, even got in on the action hurling several unsubstantiated claims about Hews and HMG-CN.
The post was up for several days, with Beach and Vo, in their administrator roles, allowing the Vo post to remain visible.
Hews was alerted of the libelous statements by a member of the page, retained an attorney, and immediately sent a letter to Vo and Beach demanding a retraction.
Within two hours, Beach claimed he had no part in the page other than to “vet members”, while Vo quickly removed the post.
The letter read in part, “the content of a recent post on Cerritos One Press accuses Mr. Hews of engaging in the practice of extortion. Specifically, Mr. Vo in the post stated: “he is doing that again about me because I will not buy advertisements in his newspaper.”
The letter went on, “Scrutiny of the meaning of “that” appears to refer to be based on the charge that Mr. Hews is “lying in his newspaper about candidates.”
“Such reckless comments have apparently ignited events leading to a series of negative statements resulting in direct economic harm, and potential irreparable harm, to the credibility and reputation of Mr. Hews and his publications.”
The letter ended, “be cautioned that the continued maintenance of the disparaging comments may result in litigation and joint liability. My suggestion is that Facebook post be deleted immediately to avoid further adversary action, and that Mr. Hews be admitted or unblocked to inspect the removal of the defamatory statements.”
Beach emailed claiming he had nothing to do with the page, “I did not create this Facebook page, and am only a member of the page. I was added as an administrator when the page was first created to vet new members and to make sure that new members lived in Cerritos.”
The Vo post was sent to Hews on Jan 21, Beach indicated he was “removed as an administrator earlier this year,” but would not give a specific date when asked. Consequently Beach knew about the post for several days after Vo posted and did not remove it.
And other comments on Facebook by Beach show he, like Vo, is on a campaign to discredit Hews.
One hour after Beach’s email, Vo responded and agreed to remove the post, “thank you for your letter. Although I believe I did nothing wrong, I have removed the post from the Facebook account.”
Vo ended with a defiant tone, “I will not grant access to a private Facebook account to Mr. Hews. This email will serve as proof that the post has been removed from the Facebook Group you described. I can also meet with Mr. Hews to have him look at the Facebook group on my phone.”
Hews stated, “Vo said he did nothing wrong? Vo is a police officer and he knowingly lied and defamed me in his Facebook post, which generated several negative comments, he deleted the post two hours after we sent the retraction demand, so he knew he lied.”
Hews then produced emails between him and Vo that corroborate Hews’ assertion that Vo knowingly and maliciously lied to damage HMG-CN’s reputation in his Facebook post.
In his post Vo stated, “so the local community newspaper and owner Brian Hews is trying to influence the city election again to get his candidates and friends in office. [Hews is also] railroading other candidates.”
“To the contrary,” Hews said, “I offered Vo free space for his candidate’s statement.”
On the morning of Thursday January 12, nine days before Vo’s defamatory post, Hews offered all candidates, including Vo, the opportunity to publish their candidate’s statements at no cost in HMG-CN.
If the candidate’s statement were an advertisement, it would cost in excess of $500, that does not count the additional publicity, with HMG-CN reaching over 160,000 readers per week.
Initially Vo said he would send a statement by the deadline, but hours later declined, just minutes after he declined, Bruce Barrows sent an email and declined.
“The emails show I was not railroading candidates, as Vo falsely claimed,” Hews stated, “I offered to publish candidate’s statement for free, including Vo’s.”
“I even went a step further and told all candidate’s that if they did not submit their statement that week, they could submit for publication next week.”
ABOVE: Email conversation between candidates, including Chuong Vo, and HMG-CN Publisher Brian Hews. Contrary to Vo’s post accusing Hews of “railroading candidates,” Hews offered Vo free space to publish his candidate’s statement in Los Cerritos Community News. Click on image to view larger document.
Later in his post, Vo made another statement he knew to be false; that Hews was extorting Vo by threatening Vo with bad publicity if he did not buy advertising in the newspaper.
Vo said, “[Hews is also] railroading other candidates that won’t give him money. Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper, Brian Hews lied about candidates in his newspaper. And he is doing that again about me because I will not buy advertisements in his newspaper.”
“Another false claim that Vo knows is a lie,” Hews said.
“For the record, I have never spoke to Vo in person or on the phone, all our communications have been by email.”
Hews went on, “what voters should know is that Vo actually requested rates to advertise in my newspaper on February 19. but by then I did not trust him, Vo is dishonest.”
Hews then produced a bombshell certain to cause Cerritos voter to think twice about voting for Vo.
“As a matter of fact,” Hews stated, “I have a candidate that will go on the record saying that Vo came to them and demanded they not advertise, I repeat not advertise, in my newspaper.”
“It is Vo that is running an extortion scheme, and remember, he is a Torrance Police Detective sworn to protect and serve.”
Emails into Vo for comment went unanswered.
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