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HMG-CN OBTAINS LETTER: Central Basin Admits to Leak of Confidential Documents to Los Angeles Times

By Brian Hews

Yesterday, HMG-CN reported that a Central Basin Municipal Water District (CB) employee or Director leaked federally protected and confidential personnel and health records of a former employee to the Los Angeles Times violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which is a federal offense.

Today, Hews Media Group-Community News obtained a letter written by Central Basin Municipal Water District General Manager Kevin Hunt admitting the embattled agency “apparently released” confidential personal and health records to the Los Angeles Times.

According to sources, the records were illegally obtained by the offender prior to Feb. 2017, when three new directors were appointed, narrowing the list to a handful of people who could have acquired and eventually leaked the records.

Those same sources have told HMG-CN that CB’s law firm Nossaman, for unknown reasons, is not involved in the investigation and that CB General Manager Kevin Hunt and the Administration and Ethics Committee (AEC) are “handling the investigation internally.”

Further clouding the process, the investigation is being conducted by Hunt even though CB pays $15,000 per year to manage the “Ethics Hotline” and investigate any accusations that are anonymously left on the phone-based Hotline.

At the time CB’s Board consisted of only five elected officials: Bob Apodaca, James Roybal, Leticia Vasquez, Art Chacon, and Phil Hawkins.

When contacted by HMG-CN, Tony Perez, who was GM at the time said, “I can say unequivocally that I did not release the report nor do I know who leaked the report. I left the District over 3-years ago, but my recollection is that only the Board members had access to the report through the HR [Human Resources] Department.”

Current CB Directors Art Chacon and Phil Hawkins went on the record saying they did not leak the report.

Chacon told HMG-CN, “I have an idea who leaked the report to the L.A. Times but I will let the investigation run its’ course.”

Given Perez’ statement that “only Board members had access to the report,” that would leave current President Bob Apodaca, former Director James Roybal, or current Director Leticia Vasquez as the only Board members who had access to the confidential records.

HMG-CN sent in a request for to all three, as of time of publication, none had responded, Roybal now resides in Florida.

 

 

The letter from Hunt to the former employee, some of the letter was redacted to hide the name of the affected former employee.

 

In the letter Hunt was effusive, carefully wording the letter, “Upon learning of the apparent release, I called you to let you know of the apparent release and to inform you that those of us at the district where as surprised as you of the reporter’s questions. At that time, you informed me that you had already been aware of the situation, as a reporter had been contacting you directly with questions prior to my call with you. Please be advised that an investigation has been commenced prior to receipt of your letter, and is, in fact, in the final stages of being completed.”

The letter finished, “As for pursued by law-enforcement, please be advised that our attorneys have already been in contact with the Los Angeles county district attorney’s office regarding this matter.”

Cover-up?

The records were leaked to the L.A. Times sometime around Oct. 2017, yet the explosive issue has only been recently addressed by Hunt and the Administration and Ethics Committee (AEC).

The Chair of the AEC is CB Vice President Pedro Aceituno, with members listed as Directors Mark Grajeda and Leticia Vasquez; Director Phil Hawkins is the alternate.

Recent CB online documents showed that the January AEC meeting listed a closed session agenda item as “Significant Exposure to Litigation.”

Just days later, CB pulled the agenda off the website and cancelled the AEC meeting for “lack of quorum.” Two days later the cancellation notice was altered for “lack of committee items,” even though the pulled agenda showed discussing “significant exposure to litigation.”

HMG-CN has recently learned that GM Hunt is “in the final stages of completing the investigation.”

Hunt also indicated CB’s attorneys are “in contact with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office regarding this matter.”

HMG-CN sent an email to the L.A. Times reporter who received the leaked documents, as well as his boss, for comment, as of time of publication, neither had answered.

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments on "HMG-CN OBTAINS LETTER: Central Basin Admits to Leak of Confidential Documents to Los Angeles Times"

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Call me Steve
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This sounds like another large payday for yet another Central Basin employee. How many millions of our water rates have now been squandered by this reckless, incompetent elected body? I hope this employee hits them big so maybe the message will sink in that we need to vote these people out. Of course, if the District Attorney finally did her job that could solve the problem. This black DA is certainly no white Cooley. Just saying, I didn’t vote for a black woman to run such a tough agency.

Common Sense Dude
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The LA Times has never reported on the corruption at Central Basin like this paper has. It’s a shame they would stoop to breaking federal law to game a nothing story like a six year old injury report. I’m glad you called them out Brian.

Recall Supporter
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When will Leticia Vasquez be prosecuted for all the crap she’s done. She doesn’t live in her District and she’s a loose-cannon who leaks information when she pleases. She’s got to go!