Thursday, January 8, 2015

City of Baldwin Park Illegally Pays for Attorney Defense Fees of Two Accused Money Launderers

Defendant Manuel Carrillo Jr..
Robert Nacionales-Tafoya, contracted City Attorney

Defendant Craig Graves
The City of Baldwin Park is illegally paying for the attorney defense fees of two directors suspected of laundering money. The two defendants are Manuel Carrillo Jr., the Director of Parks and Recreation, and Craig Graves, Director of Finance. Although both of them work for the City of Baldwin Park, the two are also directors of a sham non-profit corporation called the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation (BPCCC).

Earlier this year, the boxing club discovered that Manuel Carrillo Jr. was collecting money from local businesses that the City had contracts with, and at the end of the year, was holding a sham Christmas event, called the Santa Clothes program, which allegedly purchased gift cards for poor children. Although some clothes were purchased, really, most of the money was spent on Walmart gift cards, which cannot be accounted for. It is strongly suspected that the money stayed in the pockets of the council members and the two directors.  

After outing the sham, Julian Casas, the head boxing coach was fired. The head boxing coach had a pending records lawsuit against Carrillo and Graves to account for the money of their non-profit. They withheld records; so, Casas sued.

Now in an interesting turn of events, without a city council vote, Robert Tafoya, the contracted City Attorney, is representing the Carrillo and Graves - whom are being sued as board members of the sham non-profit. There is no record of a city council vote authorizing him to represent the defendants, which is required by law. What this means is that the City of Baldwin Park is illegally paying for the defense funds of two private entities. Only if we can all be so lucky for the City to pay for our private defense fees.

Since, Robert Tafoya is a contracted attorney, he has an interest in billing the city for such work. He bills the City at $250 an hour and has an interest to bill the City as much as he can. Paul Cook, local attorney who has prevailed against Baldwin Park in two lawsuits has accused Tafoya of "churning," which in the legal practice means doing useless work for money. He points to all the hundreds of pages of declarations that Tafoya has drafted. For three months worth of work, Tafoya has charged the city over $90,000. 

The results are shameful. By committing malpractice, he has exposed Mayor Manuel Lozano to personal liability. Tafoya has lost on all 21 counts of the Public Records Act lawsuit. He has exposed the City to further liability by proceeding with several unlawful terminations and  an unlawful arrest. For this, his billing is adding up to close to half a million dollars a year. Think about this, that means he can buy a new house every year.

Now, the City is footing the bill for private defendants. My questions are who authorized this. And even if it is authorized, this is illegal. The City doesn't pay for private defense funds. 

As a reminder to the Baby Boomers, this question is what led to Richard Nixon's resignation. For those of you who are too young to remember, Richard Nixon was the President of the United States. Several burglars broke into the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC, trying to obtain records on the Democratic Party. Nixon was a Republican. Two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, researched who was paying for the burglars' defense fees. What they ultimately discovered was that President of the United States was.

An organization usually has an interest when their agents are caught doing some thing illegal to pay for their defense fees. This is because the organization doesn't want the defendants to out those really in charge of their illegal conduct, which could be a potential defense in such a case.

Tafoya's behavior violates all types of attorney ethical rules. Perhaps, the most obvious one is that it appears he is self-authorizing who he can represent on city money. What this means is that he can charge the city as much as he wants for representing defendants. 

Just recently, Baldwin Park has been sued again and Tafoya self-authorized himself to defend the lawsuit. (See Eastern Keystone Inc. v. The City of Baldwin Park). There is no evidence of a council vote. Yet, Tafoya is representing the city, once again and charging it.

It appears that the City Mananger, Shannon Yauchzee may be in on it. After reviewing the records, he said on recorded audio that the City indeed approved the representation. This was a lie.

Casas, the plaintiff in the third public records act lawsuit against Baldwin Park, filed a disqualification motion against Tafoya. What this means is that he is attempting to kick off Tafoya from representing Carrillo and Graves so that they could find their own attorney. 

The whole arrangement raises two important questions. One, who amongst the Council Member and Mayor authorized this representation? If a secret arrangement occurred, this would be a per se (or automatic) violation of the Brown Act. Two, why are they so concerned with defending Carrillo and Graves?

The disqualification hearing is scheduled at Stanley Mosk Court House in downtown Los Angeles at Dep. 82 at 9:30 AM.

 Update:  Witnesses have confirmed that Manuel Carrillo took several boxes of records into his car. It's alleged he is going home with them. What is he hiding?

1 comment:

  1. It is easy to spend money that is not your own! As long as the legal defense funds come from the citizens of Baldwin Park, who in city hall gives a rip.
    It is not what you see that is so terrible, but what you don't.
    Wake up citizens of Baldwin Park and demand open accountability.. You will be shocked at what is revealed.