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Central Basin Water Director Vasquez’ Whistleblower Lawsuit Rebuked by Judge

 

Central Basin Water District Director Leticia Vasquez, who took office only one year ago, is a party to a whistleblower lawsuit against the very district she was elected to represent.

Central Basin Water District Director Leticia Vasquez, who took office only two years ago, is a party to a whistleblower lawsuit against the very district she was elected to represent.

By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

Embattled Central Basin Municipal Water Director Leticia Vasquez’s Qui Tam “whistleblower” lawsuit that alleged past illegal activities at the Commerce based water wholesaler suffered a potentially fatal blow at a Superior Court hearing in Los Angeles this past Wednesday.

Vasquez has long denied she was suing CBMWD or that she even filed the lawsuit. Court documents show she was one of the plaintiffs named in the whistleblower lawsuit.

On Wednesday, she reiterated to HMG-CN that she is “not profiting from this lawsuit and it is not about her. When questioned further she told HMG-CN’s Randy Economy to “get out of my fu***** face.”

Judge Susan Bryant-Deason was methodical in her questioning and sided with attorney’s representing two former CBMWD law firms. The hearing lasted approximately two hours.

Deason soundly rebuked Vasquez’ attorney Jimmie Johnson’s claim that the attorney-client privilege no longer existed. The reason given was the investigative report recently completed by CBMWD special outside counsel Arrent Fox.

In early 2013 CBMWD hired Arrent Fox and commenced its own independent investigation into the existence of a “slush fund” initially identified by former CBMWD executives Chuck Fuentes and Ron Beilke.

Both were unexpectedly fired in Jan. 2013 by Vasquez, along with support from close ally James Roybal and former majority member Bob Apodaca.

Soon thereafter federal subpoenas were served on CBMWD pertaining to the trust fund.

Sources told HMG-CN at the time that the Calderons, Pacifica Services, and other firms were involved in the slush fund.

According to established rules, for a public employee filing a whistleblower lawsuit, that employee must have raised concerns within the public agency and those concerns must have been ignored.  When the concerns are acknowledged, the public agency must be given the opportunity to first investigate and resolve the issues, which CBMWD did by hiring Arrent Fox.

According to Vasquez’ complaint, she claims to have attempted many times to get CBMWD to address her concerns surrounding the $2.7 million “slush fund” but said she “found no support to do anything to investigate its existence.”

Vasquez’ complaint failed to address the investigation of Arrent Fox as CBMWD its duty.

During the hearing, Vasquez was seated in court next to her only remaining CBMWD Board ally James Roybal and her husband, attorney Ron Wilson.

It was exclusively reported by HMG-CN that Roybal was in LAUSD Teacher Jail and was also taking payments in violation of Teacher Jail from CBMWD.

Following Johnson’s argument and pleadings, Deason ruled that no waiver of attorney-client privilege occurred.

As a result, Deason ordered Vasquez’ attorney to provide a waiver from the CBMWD Board within 30 days or face dismissal of the whistleblower lawsuit.

Sources told HMG-CN that it would be virtually impossible for a waiver ever to be granted which would place Vasquez in a very difficult position with respect to her fellow board members.

Ron Beilke, a former Assistant to the General Manager at CBMWD who attended Wednesday’s court proceedings questioned the statements Vasquez’ attorney made in regards his client’s “discovery” of the slush fund.

According to Beilke, “Vasquez’ attorney claims that she began inquiring about the slush fund immediately after taking office on Jan. 7, 2013. She wanted the public to believe that she somehow “discovered” the potentially illegal transfer of funds. But, as reported by HMG-CN, Chuck Fuentes had briefed her, Roybal, and the previous Board of its existence.”

Beilke continued, “after Chuck and I, along with then-general counsel Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, began developing a strategy to investigate the trust fund, we were all three unexpectedly terminated.”

Beilke claims Vasquez already had the whistleblower lawsuit in mind at the time of their firing.

Vasquez was ordered to return to court on October 10th to argue the deficiencies in her case pointed out by the attorneys and Judge Deason.

HMG-CN is currently investigating the cost to CBMWD of the lawsuit filed by Vasquez which sources said, “ran into the tens of thousands of dollars.”

Calls into Director Vasquez went unreturned.

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