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Central Basin President Roybal Sued by Former Executive Chuck Fuentes


Former Central Basin Municipal Water District Interim General Manager Chuck Fuentes. Photo via internet.

Former Central Basin Municipal Water District Interim General Manager Chuck Fuentes. Photo via internet.

A Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper EXCLUSIVE!

By Brian Hews and Brian Hews


Former Central Basin Municipal Water District Chief Operating Officer Chuck Fuentes has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the embattled agency, and included its current President James Roybal, Hews Media Group-Community News can confirm.


Fuentes is charging that Roybal, acting on behalf of the agency, violated the terms and conditions of a written agreement he had with the district back in June of 2013.


Roybal leaked personal and confidential information regarding Fuentes settlement agreement to the Whittier Daily News and reporter Mike Sprague.


HMG-CN can also confirm that Roybal must ask the district to defend him and that a Board vote is required.


Lat year, Fuentes settled with JPIA for $50,000. Sources said that Roybal was “very angry” and subsequently leaked the settlement to the WDN in retaliation.


When JPIA, the insurance carrier for CBMWD, found out that Roybal leaked the settlement, they threatened to drop CBMWD as a client.


Sources tell HMG-CN that JPIA will not defend Roybal and that he and CBMWD will have to retain their own attorney and pay the settlement.


“This was an idiotic action by Roybal,” said one high-level source inside CBMWD, “Roybal’s leaking of the settlement agreement made JPIA very angry. So instead of having JPIA handle and settle the lawsuit, Roybal has exposed himself and CBMWD to a more damaging and potentially costlier lawsuit.


Attorney Silva Berejian filed the lawsuit with the Glendale law firm of Kirakosian & Associates.


Berejian said that Roybal and Central Basin Municipal Water District gave confidential information to Sprague and  “revived the dispute in the media, disclosed the amount of the compromise and settlement, and instead elected to repudiate the agreement and to disparage and discredit Fuentes.”


The complaint also states that “Defendant James Roybal acting both individually and in his capacity as President of the District, made several statements to the Sprague concerning Plaintiff and the parties’ agreement,” to deliberately discredit Fuentes.


In the article, Fuentes is charging that Roybal “materially breached the Settlement Agreement” and that the statements made by Roybal were the source of an article published by the Whittier Daily News on or about June 4, 2013.


“Based on reviewing the article published, Plaintiff (Fuentes) alleges that Defendants divulged the amount of the Settlement Agreement in direct contravention of the parties confidentially agreement, and made statements to the newspaper to the effect that Plaintiff was fired in January from his position as interim chief executive.”


According to the lawsuit, statements made by Roybal, “the deal sets a bad precedent; and further stated that “we never broke any part of his contract,” and “to reward him when we didn’t break the contract seems like a gift of public funds.”


The lawsuit claims that the statements by Roybal in the Whittier Daily News article, “materially breached the Settlement Agreement which prohibited Defendants from divulging the amount of the settlement.”


The lawsuit also claims that Roybal acted “in an abusive and malicious manner for several reasons, including to retaliate against Plaintiff (Fuentes) and to reignite a controversy over whether the Defendants had “fired” Plaintiff, as opposed to released him from his employment agreement according to its terms.”


Fuentes alleges “the very reason for the Settlement Agreement and Release was to fully and finally resolve the dispute between the parties, to avoid adverse publicity by keeping the agreement confidential and to ensure that the parties would put things behind them.”


Attorney Berejian told HMG-CN in a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon that Fuentes has “dedicated the last 40 years of his life serving the people of Southeast Los Angeles County as a true public servant.”


“People like Chuck Fuentes don’t deserve to be treated like this. Mr. Fuentes is a force for positive change and will continue to dedicate his life for the betterment for this entire region,” Berejian said.


Berejian said that Central Basin Water District officials have 30 days to respond to the lawsuit, and confirmed that Roybal was “personally handed the lawsuit by Process Servers” at the Commerce headquarters of the besieged public agency.


“There has been a pattern on behalf of Mr. Roybal to divulge personal and confidential information about employees like Chuck Fuentes and others during the past year, especially to members of the media.  We are confident that our lawsuit will be successful,” Berejian concluded.


A complete copy of the lawsuit will be published at www.loscerritosnews.net.


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