Politics Magazine

Central Basin Water Director Vasquez is Party to $2.7M Lawsuit Against Own District

Posted on the 22 January 2014 by Jim Winburn @civicbeebuzz

0113_newswire_politics_w100_res72 COMMERCE – Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained documents that indicate Central Basin Municipal Water District Director Leticia Vasquez is a party to a “Qui Tam” whistleblower lawsuit against CBMWD, suing the district for the now infamous $2.7 million “slush fund,” an unprecedented move by an elected official and one that could net Vasquez over $2 million.

A “Qui Tam” action is also known as the False Claim Act and allows whistleblowers to bring civil fraud lawsuits filed on behalf of the government against companies and individuals that are allegedly cheating the government.

CBMWD could be on the hook for triple damages amounting to over $8.1 million plus fraud charges if found guilty.

Vazquez, as a plaintiff herself, could walk away with over $2 million.

Vasquez, who was recalled as a Councilmember in scandal-plagued Lynwood, and according to sources, avoided prosecution by turning state’s evidence that helped send many of her then-colleagues to prison, is now a self-proclaimed whistleblower.

Vasquez was elected to CBMWD under a cloud of shady dealings and contributions from questionable sources. Engineering firm HDR, Sedgewick attorney Doug Wance, Ernie Camacho and his company Pacifica, MLJ Properties, owned by Camacho’s children, and Ron and Tom Calderon gave Vasquez over $14,000 for her campaign. Most of the contributors are now targets of the FBI and its investigation of CBMWD and the Calderons.

In addition, in February an exclusive HMG-CN investigation revealed that Vasquez’ campaign was financed by convicted felon Rick Meyer and Angle Gonzalez, who was charged with a felony but pled down to a misdemeanor.

Documents and interviews point to Vazquez having the lawsuit in mind from the very start of her term at CBMWD using insider information not available to the general public to file the lawsuit against her own public agency.

Vasquez was sworn into office on January 7, 2013. By then Vazquez knew of the $2.7 million slush fund through administrative briefings given by then General Manager Chuck Fuentes, Assistant GM Ron Bielke, and CBMWD Attorney Arnold Glassman. It was Fuentes, Bielke and Glassman who originally found the obscure fund.

Within days of the swearing-in, Vasquez formed a voting-bloc majority that included President James Roybal and Director Bob Apodaca. The three immediately moved to suspend provisions of the Administrative Code and circumvent the proper selection of a Board President, ousting Director Art Chacon, who was the most vocal critic of the slush fund, and removing Chacon and Director Phil Hawkins from several committees.

In a highly unusual and controversial move, Vasquez voted to fire Fuentes, Bielke, and Glassman, removing those responsible for finding the slush fund.

The three were preparing to hire a firm to audit the fund but Sedgewick LLP, the firm paid over $1,000,000 from the fund and their attorney Douglas Wance, were slow in giving the documents.

But the fact remained, and Vasquez knew, that an investigation had started and information was being reported, which resulted in Director Chacon dubbing it the slush fund.

Full story by Brian Hews and Randy Economy at loscerritosnews.net.

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