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Court Clears Hews Media Group of Central Basin Leticia Vasquez’ Phony Defamation Allegations

CENTRAL BASIN DIRECTOR LETICIA VASQUEZ.

 

Court finds Hews did a thorough investigation and that Vasquez’ lawsuit was frivolous, ordering a hearing for her to pay as much as $60,000 in attorney’s fees.

By Brian Hews

In a wide-ranging ruling, and a victory for free press, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko has ruled in favor of Hews Media Group-Community News and Publisher Brian Hews in a bogus defamation case filed by Central Basin (CB) Director Leticia Vazquez.

In response to the complaint, Hews filed what is known as an Anti-SLAPP motion and won. SLAPP is an acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

Vasquez’ phony defamation case was centered on the article “SOURCES: Central Basin Director Leticia Vasquez and Montebello Councilwoman Vanessa Delgado Attempted to Extort Money From Cook Hills Officials” published by Hews in June 2016.

Vasquez will now be liable for all of Hews’ legal fees, which currently exceed $55,000.

Vasquez’ husband, attorney Ron Wilson.

Her husband, 57 year-old Stanford law graduate Ron Wilson, was heavily involved in the case even though he was not attorney of record, likely saving Vasquez a majority of her legal fees.

Wilson made a first-year law student mistake when, in one of several lengthy briefs filed with the court, he misspelled the last name of Nana Gyamfi, the attorney of record for Vasquez.

Wilson also appeared and argued the case in court, “specially appearing for Gyamfi,” and paid court fees with his own credit card.

During the litigation, Hews was blasted by his detractors and the Vasquez camp for “pulling the story out of thin air.”

Vazquez argued the case by submitting declarations from people indirectly related to the story, doing everything she could to claim that Hews made the story up.

In a stinging rebuke, the court found the declarations to be worthless and of no evidentiary value.

Judge Ongkeko said, “Hews did not concoct the article out of thin air or base it on unverified anonymous sources.”

Hews’ attorney, Scott Talkov of Reid and Hellyer based out of Riverside, had a very low opinion of Vasquez and her case.

Talkov stated, “Ms. Vasquez had no information to meet her burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence that my client had any information to doubt the truth of the allegations in his article. This case never should have been filed.”

Vasquez’ attorney,  Nana Gyamfi, was the attorney of record.

Gyamfi, who was suspended multiple times by the California State Bar since 1994, twice for a period of two years where the bar ruled she had “significantly harmed her client,” six times for administrative violations, briefly argued the case, but Judge Ongkeko strongly rebuked her.

 

Vasquez’ Attorney in Hews Defamation Case Suspended Twice for Two Years, Court Said She ‘Significantly Harmed Client’

 

After a 10 minute diatribe Ongkeko told Gyamfi, “There is a First Amendment right I cannot overlook.”

Vasquez’ lawsuit was filed in July of this year more than a year after the story published.

The complaint included declarations signed the year before the case was filed.

In that time the best attorney Vasquez could hire for the case was Gyamfi, a strong signal that the case was frivolous.

Hews said, “The lawsuit was the culmination of many disreputable people banding together, people who dislike me for my investigative reporting, who want to financially harm my organization, it was an attack on free press by elected officials sworn to defend the Constitution.”

One example was current La Mirada Councilman Andrew Sarega, whom Hews exposed for campaign finance violations, and who is currently under an FPPC investigation because of Hews’ exposé.

LA MIRADA CITY COUNCILMAN ANDREW SAREGA.

 

La Mirada Lamplighter Expose´: Fair Political Practices Commission Opens Investigation On Citizens for a Better La Mirada and City Councilman Andrew Serega

 

Sarega agreed to work with Vasquez and served the lawsuit on Hews waiting outside of Hews’ offices in Cerritos to give him the subpoena.

Sarega and many others, including former HMG-CN employees Jerry Bernstein and Randy Economy, were part of a plan to “take Hews down.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Randy Economy (left) and Jerry Bernstein are former HMG-CN employees.

“I will be exposing the truth about these people in a later series of articles,” said Hews, “these people were calculating in their actions, but the court found their opinions to be worthless. It really is disgraceful what they did.”

COOK HILLS MEETING

Hews’ article described a 2016 meeting between Vasquez and Cook Hills Development, who had a pending $552,000 water project with CB in Montebello.

MONTEBELLO COUNCILWOMAN VANESSA DELGADO.

 

The project was scheduled for a CB Board vote within days of the meeting, which was “arranged” and also attended by Montebello Councilwoman Vanessa Delgado.

Delgado had worked for Primstor, a large real estate developer in Los Angeles for years.

Many questioned the meeting: Montebello is not in Vasquez’ electoral district, Vasquez does not sell water, is not an engineer, or carries an engineering degree.

And like Hews, Judge Ongkeko also questioned why Vasquez was at the meeting.

Sources told Hews that Vasquez demanded campaign donations from Cook in exchange for her yes vote on the CB contract.

Those same sources told HMG-CN that CB General Manager Kevin Hunt and CB Chief Engineer Lonnie Curtis received phone calls immediately after the Vasquez/Delgado meeting from Cook officials who were “irate that a CB Director would try such a thing. ”

Curtis told the sources, “I can’t believe she (Vasquez) did that.”

When contacted by HMG-CN, Hunt simply stated, “You will have to wait until Monday’s meeting,” Monday was the day of the vote.

Curtis did not return phone calls.

Hews also called Cook Hills inquiring about the meeting and talked with an administrative assistant for over four minutes before being told, “they will call you back.”

Hews left his cell phone number but Cook Hills never called him back.

Attempts to reach Delgado and Vasquez resulted in no response. Instead, Delgado claimed the email Hews Media used was old and that Hews Media should have tried to contact her through her Montebello city council email listed on the city’s website. At the time and to this day, council emails are not on the city’s site.

After the article was published, the Cook Hills project was pulled without any explanation and never voted on again. The lucrative revenue generating project continues to languish without approval.

In the ruling and referring to the lack of response by everyone involved, Judge Ongkeko stated, “silence on the other side is reasonable” to rely upon as an admission that the allegations are true, providing as an example if “someone says no comment.”

Ongkeko admonished Vasquez saying, “Vasquez has not shown that Hews’ investigation was inadequate so as to rise to the degree of actual malice, Vasquez did not establish clear and convincing evidence of actual malice on Hews’ part.”

This is a victory for HMG-CN, with the court finding the investigation thorough and accurately reported in print and online.

“Vasquez and Wilson were angry at the quality of my sources,” said Hews. “In fact, the court was impressed that my sources came out on the record by name, confirming the information they provided and standing behind their story.”

Ongkeko stated he “doesn’t believe the two [sources who provided the tip to Hews Media] were unreliable. They may have been biased, but that’s politics.”

As Hews and Talkov walked out of the courtroom, an arrogant Wilson acknowledged Talkov and said, “you’ll be seeing me again.”

“Not one attorney I talked to said she was going to prevail,” said Hews, “ but Vasquez did not care. Her husband Ron Wilson was helping with the case, so she was not paying legal fees. Now she has to pay mine.”

 See tentative ruling click here

Editor’s note: Vasquez is publicizing that she is not liable for Hews’ attorney fees, below is the Order Granting the Anti-SLAPP motion.

The court’s ruling provided that: “Attorneys’ fees and costs, if any, shall be by noticed motion.” Under Anti-SLAPP law found in Code of Civil Procedure Section 425.16(c)(1): “a prevailing defendant on a special motion to strike shall be entitled to recover his or her attorney’s fees and costs.”

According to Talkov, “the law is that the court shall award Hews Media its reasonable attorney’s fees and costs at the forthcoming hearing.”

 

 

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Hews Media Wins Another Frivolous Lawsuit Filed by Disgruntled La Mirada Politician Andrew Sarega | La Mirada LamplighterJohn MooreConfused in CerritosPaul NFullerton Recent comment authors

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[…] Court Clears Hews Media Group of Central Basin Leticia Vasquez’ Phony Defamation Allegations […]

John Moore
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John Moore

Good ole Randy “The Douche Bag” Economy. When will this guy learn he is far from a political consultant. More like a political hack.

Confused in Cerritos
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Confused in Cerritos

I’m confused. Is this the same hood-rat Leticia Vasquez who was recalled in Lynwood who ratted out her colleagues on the city council to avoid prison?? And is the Uncle Tom pictured here actually her husband? Are you telling me that the woman pictured in this article in cornrows is the same Leticia Vasquez and not some Jamaican-Jerk off housekeeper who came to our shores on some boat when she was a child? Damn, we live in a strange world. I hope you got all your shots before you entered a room with these people Brian??

Paul NFullerton
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Paul NFullerton

Congrats on prevailing court Mr. Hews. I hope you can gets costs from that carpetbagging Vasquez.

I hope you have, or have had the same success against Head Douche Sarega.

It must have killed Mike Sprague to write the article for the paper today. (Hope he reads my dig in the comments, LOL)

Tag this under #priceless.