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Cerritos Mayor Pro Tem Chuong Vo Fleecing City Coffers for Healthcare

Vo, the man who “declined to be appointed Cerritos Mayor,”  takes cash-in-lieu of his healthcare with his employer – instead of declining the check – bamboozling Cerritos taxpayers.

 

February 18, 2022

By Brian Hews

According to Transparent California, Cerritos Mayor pro tem Chuong Vo took in a total of nearly $191,000 in salary and benefits in 2020 as a Torrance Police officer.

The benefits totaled nearly $37,309, which includes health care.

When candidates are elected to City Council,  Councilmembers that have healthcare with their current employer, in the case of Vo, the Torrance Police, usually decline healthcare offered by the city.

But not Vo.

A FOIA request by HMG-CN into Cerritos asking for all payments to Cerritos Councilmembers has revealed Vo taking cash from the city for healthcare he does not use.

The acceptance of cash is called cash-in-lieu, and it is one of the most egregious ways city councilmembers abuse the system and rip-off taxpayers.

This during a time when Vo and his allies, Councilmen Bruce Barrows and Naresh Solanki, were constantly calling for the city to reduce expenses because of the pandemic.

Instead of declining the health payment from the city – like Councilmen Solanki, Barrows, and Yokoyama – Vo cashes a $780 cash-in-lieu check each month, costing the city an unnecessary $9,400 per year.

Vo also takes $1,137 salary and a $400 car allowance monthly totaling $18,444; grand total annual hit to the Cerritos General Fund, $27,800.

Several emails into Vo’s Cerritos City email went unanswered, as did requests for City Hall to contact Vo.

Real Estate Mogul

Vo cashing a cash-in-lieu check will be particularly infuriating to area residents – according to OCTitle, Vo owns two homes in Cerritos.

One house Vo owns is located on Owen and is rented, generating income between $10,000 and $100,000 annually, according to Vo’s documents filed with Cerritos.

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PAGE FROM VO’S Statement of Economic Interests filed with Cerritos showing his second rental home property in Cerritos. Zillow estimates the rent would be nearly $4,000 per month and that the house is worth $1.2 million.

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The online real estate portal Zillow estimates the house is worth nearly $1.2 million generating an estimated rent of nearly $4,000 per month.

The second house on Ashworth is likely Vo’s primary residence, Zillow estimates that the house is worth nearly $900,000.

Cerritos 2022 Council Candidate Lynda Johnson, who served as L.A. County 4th District and Democrat Supervisor Janice Hahn’s Field Rep., and is now running as a Republican, showed Vo the ropes on how to take cash-in-lieu.

In 2016 HMG-CN exclusively reported Johnson took over $7,500  from the ABC Unified in cash in lieu payments since her election to the ABC Board.

Upon learning that HMG-CN had a public records request, Johnson declared during a later board meeting that she would “donate her cash payments.”

Johnson never confirmed her donation back to ABC to HMG-CN.

Johnson was the only board member to take cash in lieu payments, cashing checks since 2013.

Like Vo, Johnson was making good money at the time working for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Compton office as a paralegal.

According to Transparent California, Johnson received salary and benefits totaling $157,000 from 2011-2015, while taking the monthly cash in lieu check from the ABCUSD.

Vo Declines to be Cerritos Mayor

Vo shook the political rafters last year, refusing to take the helm of Cerritos as Mayor during a worldwide pandemic.

Many in the city called him out, saying he did not have the leadership qualities necessary to guide the Southeast Los Angeles County City.

Months later, a text scandal, exposed by the Los Angeles Times, hit the Torrance Police Department, Vo’s long-time employer.

Vo has not answered several emails from HMG-CN asking if he is involved in the scandal.

Vo also refused to answer a FOIA request for his personal text messages and emails, ordering the high-powered Cerritos’ law firm of Rutan and Tucker, to fight the request as “too burdensome.”

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