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Former Bellflower Mayor Juan Garza Operated an Unlicensed Business in City for Three Years While on Council

Juan Garza

November 8, 2023

By Brian Hews

A Los Cerritos Community News investigation has found that former Bellflower Mayor and current Central Basin (CB) Director Juan Garza has not registered his home-based Bellflower business with the city’s business license office; Garza’s company has been operating since 2019.

For nearly four years, Garza shirked payments to his own city – all while serving as a “trusted elected official” on the Bellflower City Council – taking thousands in cash and outside committee stipends while violating the city’s Municipal Code [Section 5.04] and committing fraud on the city and Bellflower taxpayers.

Garza even voted to increase his monthly pay while on the Council to $1,470 per month starting the term after the Nov 2018 elections. 

Documents obtained by LCCN from the California Secretary of State’s office show that Garza registered his company, Six Heron LLC, in 2019 with an address on Felson St. in Bellflower.


Garza’s Six Heron, LLC registration with the SOS on November 4, 2019, the Felson address was redacted by LCCN. A search on the Bellflower’s website shows that even though he was asked about the business license by LCCN is early October 2023, Garza has yet to file with the city and pay fees. Click on image to view larger document.


An online title search reveals that Garza and his wife, Mayra, who is currently President of the Bellflower Unified School District Board, own the house at that address.

A check on Bellflower’s website shows that Garza continues his illegal ways; a search of Garza’s address, PO Box, and/or name related to Six Heron is met with “nothing registered in that name,” adding another year of business license fees to his fraud tally.

The revelation is another in a long line of corruption occurrences for the embattled CB Director. Yet Garza’s cronies on the CB Board – Leticia Vasquez-Wilson, Martha Rodriguez and La Habra Heights Water GM Michael Gualtieri – continue to blast CB GM Alex Rojas for his alleged crimes while turning a deaf ear to the corrupt actions of Garza.

Conflicts of Interest From the Beginning

In May 2023, just like he did in his home city of Bellflower, Garza “failed to inform the board and management” of his many conflicts of interest and questionable business connections with lobbying firms during his appointment interview.

After replacing one of the most well-respected politicians in Southern California, former California Assemblyman, CB Director, and MWD Board member Phil Hawkins, who had passed away, Garza immediately got to work attempting to help one of his friends who owns a lobbying firm secure CB’s lobbying contract while getting the CB’s current firm fired.

Sources told LCCN that Garza became “very angry” that CB GM Alex Rojas chose not to retain  California Advocacy, LLC.  a lobbying firm Garza works with; Garza is also friends with the owner of California Advocacy, Marvin Pineda.

Pineda donated to Garza’s failed re-election campaign for Bellflower City Council in 2022.

Garza’s campaign statement showing Pineda’s $2,000 donation in June 2022. Click on image to view larger document.


Adding to the conflict, Garza is the Executive Director of California Cities for Self-Reliance-JPA; California Advocacy is the lobbying firm for the JPA; Garza has renewed the contract with California Advocacy since 2020.

CB GM Alex Rojas went on the record confirming Garza’s illicit maneuver to get California Advocacy in as CB’s lobbying firm, “Garza called a meeting and demanded we fire Lucien Partners, our current lobbying firm, and replace them with Cal Advocacy; there was another board member at the meeting.”

Handing Out No Bid Public Contracts

The JPA that Garza works for is a formal legal organization with member cities subject to the same laws as other public agencies, including the bidding process.

Public agencies must publish in print and online Request for Proposals (RFPs) when the agency solicits bids for projects. California law mandates that the agency accept the “lowest responsible bid” for the project.

LCCN learned of Garza’s JPA arrangement with California Advocacy and submitted a public records request asking for lobbying firm RFPs published by the JPA since 2020.

Garza, who oddly handled LCCN’s request through his unlicensed Six Heron LLC email, admitted he never sent out RFPs for the lobbying contract.

It is unknown why the JPA’s attorney-of-record, Olivarez Madruga Law Organization LLP, did not handle LCCN’s request, maybe because the Evergreen PAC gave Garza $2,000 for his 2022 campaign, below.


Evergreen PAC campaign donation to Garza’s campaign in 2022; Evergreen is operated by Rick Olivarez of Olivarez-Madruga, his firm is the attorney for Garza’s JPA. Click on images to view larger document.


Garza took 24 days to respond to the records request, writing, “…there are no documents responsive to your request.”

The overall budget of the JPA is $235,000; the California Advocacy contract is $80,000 annually or an eye-opening 34 percent of the JPA’s budget.

Influence and Interference in Award of Contracts

A few weeks ago, without any evidence, CB Directors Vasquez, Camacho, Garza, and newly recruited La Habra Heights Water GM Michael Gualtieri moved to send out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to hire an investigative law firm to look into a company called Capstone. Sources are telling LCCN the investigation will cost over $100,000.

Vasquez’ litigious lawyer-husband Ron “Sweet James” Wilson, along with his wife Leticia Vasquez, have been very vocal and alleging at public meetings that “major financial fraud is occurring” concerning Capstone and CB and that he [Wilson] has “the checks to prove it.”

LCCN has emailed Wilson seven (7) times, asking him for the proof, but has yet to receive a response.

Strangely, Wilson has yet to give the checks to his Whittier Daily News reporter-on-speed-dial Jason Henry, who has written extensively about Capstone without producing evidence.

That did not matter to Vasquez, Camacho, Garza, and Gualtieri, per the board vote, CB published the RFQ for an investigation firm and waited for responses.

To prevent any possible undue influence, conflicts of interest, and corruption, most public agencies prohibit prior contact with any firm that has responded to an RFQ.

Prior contact is a violation under CB’s Administrative Code, yet once again, similar to his attempt to hire his buddy Pineda and California Advocacy, document obtained by LCCN show Garza violated the Code and called San Francisco-based Renne Public Law Group (RPLG) on September 29, the day RPLG was set to present its company for consideration as the investigation firm looking into Capstone.


Garza did not inform anyone at CB about the call before, during, or after RPLG’s presentation, which occurred Friday, September 29.

In addition, the RPPG employee who took Garza’s call, Dane Hutchings, did not inform anyone in his company about Garza’s call.

Andrew Shen, Principal of RPLG, was asked if anyone at his company had any contact with anyone at Central Basin. Shen said no.

Shen said he subsequently “found out” about the Garza-Hutchings conversation but waited three days to call CB attorney Derrick Lowe to explain the highly unusual call. Lowe asked for a letter explaining the incident.

Shen wrote, “The functions of RPLG and RPPG are entirely different. Although RPPG is a subsidiary…. the two groups operate separately, which is why we were unaware of the Garza-Hutchings call.”

LCCN sent questions via email asking Shen how he discovered the Garza-Hutchings phone call if the two “operate separately,” Shen refused to answer.

Garza’s call and the subsequent cover-up of the call is a direct violation of the Central Basin Administrative Code, changed after the 2015 state audit revealed several conflicts of interest between vendors and board members, similar to Garza’s interference.

RPLG’s contract was an item on the October 23 CB agenda, but the CB Board chose another firm.

Sources tell LCCN that the article LCCN published October 20 related to Garza call to RPLG “opened the eyes of certain board members.”

Meanwhile Garza violated CB’s Code once again voting yes to hire RPPG instead of recusing himself from the vote for illegal prior contact.

  • Board Letter Bob says:

    Not defending Garza at all but it might not require low bid it could be a best value solicitation.