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Commerce Candidate John Soria’s Letter Used By City to Start Lawsuit Against Argumedo Cost City Over $150,000

By Brian Hews

Just one month after the Mar. 3, 2015 election, Commerce resident John Soria submitted a letter asking that City Administartor Jorge Rifa change the theft and fraud policies of the city so someone who committed a crime against the city of Commerce could not be elected.


Commerce resident John Soria.


Soria, who was endorsed by Lilia Leon and Ivan Altimirano, was specifically targeting current Commerce Councilman Argumedo.

In the end, Soria’s letter started a lawsuit that cost Commerce over $150,000 with other potential litigation and fees pending which could cost the City tens of thousands more.

Residents told HMG-CN at the April 21, 2015 Council meeting that it was a scheme between the City Attorney, the City Administrator and City Council and Soria to begin a recall movement against Argumedo.

The letter Soria wrote was addressed to Rifa and also to City Council. The letter did not specifically threaten litigation and was not originally sent to City Attorney Eddie Olivo.

Rifa inexplicably forwarded the letter to the entire City Council and City Attorney Olivo saying, “this email was sent directly to you by John Soria. ”

The Soria letter would have likely been ignored as a swipe at Argumedo, but in a highly unusual move, Olivo deemed the letter could have “potential significant litigation.”

Many residents have questioned what “potential significant litigation” presented itself from the Soria letter.

“This is a letter that should have been read at public comment, they are singling out Argumedo, ” said one resident after the City Council meeting. “They want to find some way to get him off the City Council.”

Sources have told HMG-CN that after the April 21 closed session meeting, Mayor Leon, Mayor pro tem Baca Del Rio, and Councilmembers Altamirano and Reballo voted to send a letter to the State’s Attorney General asking for a “review” of the Soria letter.



The City then filed a Quo Warranto action, spearheaded by Commerce Councilmembers Tina Baca del Rio, Ivan Altamirano, Lelia Leon, and Oralia Rebollo in a thinly veiled attempt to retain their voting power over the Council.


Soria, center, was endorsed by Commerce Council-members Lilia Leon and Ivan Altimirano.


Based on the documents submitted by Olivo and Baca del Rio, then Attorney General Kamala Harris, in a very questionable ruling, granted the City “leave to sue” Argumedo on Nov. 9, 2015.

The case would its way through the courts when, in a wide-ranging, analytical, and hard-hitting decision, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson slammed three Commerce councilmembers, City Attorney Eddie Olivo, and in effect, Soria and his letter for filing  the Quo Warranto action in 2015 to remove Argumedo from his Commerce City Council seat.

Johnson said, “the Court has examined each of these areas, and it has concluded that the City has not established morally corrupt or dishonest conduct by Argumedo”

The judge did not find him guilty of any criminal conduct.

Johnson finished, “the Supreme Court has established a high burden of proof for quo warranto relief, requiring proof without ambiguities. The court has carefully reviewed the records and evidence provided by the parties, and has found that the city has not sustained this burden of proof (against Argumedo).

“Defendant Argumedo is entitled to judgment in his favor and against the city of Commerce. ”

Sources told HMG-CN that Soria’s letter, which precipitated the action against Argumedo and that was eventually ruled in Argumedo’s favor, cost the City over $150,000 and there is other significant litigation against the City pending.

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