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Charges of Fraud and Forgery Leveled at Organizers of Artesia Recall Campaign

Residents are saying Rene Trevino misled them about the recall.


Published May 21, 2017 7:37 p.m.

By Brian Hews

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that charges of fraud and forgery have been leveled against the recall attempt in Artesia targeting Mayor Ali Taj and Councilmen Miguel Canales and Victor Manalo.

Disgruntled former Artesia Parks and Recreation Commissioner and resident Rene Trevino, along with a few angry vocal business owners in Artesia, initiated the controversial recall attempt.

The motives of Trevino, who is the “proponent,” or “leader” of the recall, have been called into question as Trevino resigned under controversy as the Artesia Parks and Recreation appointee of Mayor Ali Taj.

Trevino became emboldened when Cerritos resident Melinda Kimsey, who admitted in court to committing perjury, falsely accusing a 4th grade teacher of harassment and pedophilia and paying a $20,000 fine, and writer Jerry Bernstien, both of whom have been vocal critics of  Taj, Canales, and Manalo, became his ally and posted a one–sided, poorly written article about the Petition that did not contain comments from the three targets of the recall.

The timing of the Kimsey post, published Thursday May 10, showed collaboration between Kimsey and Trevino as the post was made  five days prior to Trevino submitting the petitions to the City.


Melinda Kimsey


Kimsey (r) with Trevino are seen constantly at this popular lunch spot in Artesia.

Fraud and Forgery on Over 60% of the Petitions

One of the first steps in a recall election of any local elected official in California is to gather valid signatures on a “Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition.”

Each Petition lists the official to be recalled, the reasons for the recall, and areas for printed name, address, and signatures; only 20 are needed to officially submit the Petition.

The person gathering the signatures is called the Circulator; in this recall it was Trevino and Artesia Realtor Gurpal Sood.

Curiously, like Kimsey, Sood lives in Cerritos on the 13000 block of Palm Place; an internet search shows Sood’s office inside the building on the corner of Pioneer and 183rd.

The circulators go door-to-door showing the petition, explaining the reasons for recall, and finally securing a signature if the person agrees that a recall election should take place.

Signatures cannot be forged nor can the explanation of the recall deviate from that printed on the Petition itself.

Finally, the Petition is signed by the Circulator under penalty of perjury and submitted to the City Clerk for processing.

It is that Petition submitted by Trevino and Sood, that, according to Taj, Canales, and Manalo, contain fraudulent signatures and signatures that were obtained by false statements.

The three are, with their allegations, accusing Trevino of fraud, forgery, and perjury.

And other residents are backing those allegations.

Perjury is a felony in California law. If convicted, Trevino could be sentenced to up to 4 years in a California State Prison. The judge has discretion, however, to grant probation and impose little or no actual jail time.

Taj, Canales, and Manalo’s Friends Signed Petition?

Once the Petition was submitted by Trevino to the City Clerk, Taj, Canales, and Manalo were allowed to view the document and immediately “saw some strange things right off the bat.”

“The first thing we all noticed,” said Councilman Canales, “was that there were a number of our friends who signed the Petition.”

Manalo stated, “after I received a copy of the Petition, I reviewed the signatures and decided to speak to the people that I knew personally on that list to determine their rationale for signing the recall petition.”

“The first person that I spoke with, Amanda Farmer, is my neighbor who lives across the street from me,” said Manalo.

What Farmer told her next could doom the recall effort and land Trevino and Sood in legal hot water.

“Farmer told me that Mr. Trevino did not inform her that the petition was to recall members of the city council–she was told that the petition was to complain to the City Council about the current state of Pioneer Boulevard.”




HMG-CN later confirmed that Farmer’s statement given to Manalo was correct.

After talking with Farmer, the Taj, Canales, and Manalo talked to others about the Petition; and what they found is shocking to say the least.

Over 62% of the residents they spoke to told the three, similar to what Farmer said, that Trevino and Sood did not inform them of the true nature of the petition they were signing.

“A number of signatures on this petition have been collected under false pretenses, each one of the residents indicating that they were told that the petition was to send a message to the City Council to fix Pioneer Boulevard not to recall three city councilmembers,” said Manalo.

The three did not talk to any additional residents on the Petition so the number of fraudulent signatures could increase.

HMG-CN talked to Rene Trevino, the proponent of the recall campaign, who denied any wrongdoing.

“The residents that signed the list are a close-knit group, and they are claiming harassment by the three City Council members,” said Trevino.

“We did not mislead anyone, they read the Petition and signed it, the three councilmembers are not being truthful about the recall.”

HMG-CN was able to contact long-time Artesia resident Roger Butt who said Trevino was lying.

“I have talked to all my neighbors who signed the Petition, they are very upset and felt they were misled by Trevino and Sood,” said Butt.

“Amanda Farmer is my daughter, she will go on the record saying Trevino misled her too.”

Butt was upset because his signature was on the Petition, claiming forgery by Trevino.

“That is not my signature,” Butt said, “I have a very distinctive signature, if you look at mine and the one on the Petition, it is night and day.”

HMG-CN told Trevino that Butt denied signing the Petition.

Trevino countered, “I was at Amanda Farmer’s house getting her signature,” – the signature Farmer said was obtained using fraudulent statements – “and Amanda said wait I have a guy in the back who will sign the Petition, he came out from the back and said he was Roger Butt, and signed the Petition.”

Trevino finished, “I did not check his ID, I just let him sign the petition.”

Butt countered, refuting Trevino’s statement saying, “Amanda will go on the record, no one was in the house with her at the time Trevino was there.”

Taj, Canales, and Manalo must now obtain signed retraction letters from those who said they were misled.

The three must submit the documents by tomorrow, Monday May 22, to the City Clerk to have the Petition invalidated due to fraud and forgery.

On the larger, more criminal part of Trevino’s actions, that of forging Butt’s signature, Mr. Butt has called the Artesia City Attorney demanding his name be removed from the list.

“I want Rene to look me in the eye and say that is my signature, he won’t because it isn’t. The whole neighborhood is incensed, this recall has got to be stopped, it is a fraud.”


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See Manalo Petition click here.

See Canales Petition click here.

See Taj Petition click here.