• Stephen Collins to be arraigned on multiple felony counts

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo announced Nov. 15 that Stephen Phillip Collins, former director on the Board of Directors of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, is charged with two felony counts of conflict of interest because he allegedly profited financially from his involvement in making contracts pertaining to the Regional Water Project. The acts of conflict of interest allegedly took place between Jan. 8, 2010 and Dec. 30, 2010.

    Collins will be arraigned on Nov. 16.

    Flippo declined to say how much Collins allegedly received but it has been reported that he was paid more than $160,000.

    Collins is also charged with 31 felony counts of grand theft for billing Ocean Mist Farms for services he did not perform, for example for attending meetings which he did not actually attend. The complaint case states that Collins received at least $950 or more from Ocean Mist Farms in each instance.

    Additionally, Collins is also charged with six misdemeanor counts of violating Penal Code section 70, which prohibits public officials from receiving payment other than as authorized by law for doing an official act.

    “California government Code section 1090 precludes public officials from being financially interested in any contract made by them in the course of their duties as a public official,” the District Attorney pointed out.

    In June, 2011 the District Attorney’s Office opened the investigation into whether local government officials violated criminal statutes during the process which resulted in the California Public Utilities Commission’s approval of Monterey County’s desalination project referred to as the Regional Water Project and the subsequent award of the contract for the Regional Water Project’s management to RMC Water and Environment. Collins recused himself in February, 2011 from a voting on the award of a contract RMC was being awarded from the Water Resources Agency. Questions arose at that time as to what role he was playing with RMC while sitting as a member of the board of the Water Resources Agency.

    Collins resigned from the board, under pressure, in April, 2011.

    According to the District Attorney, his inquiry necessitated a review of the history of the complex water issues and accompanying litigation in Monterey County and review of well over 1000 pages of documents. Investigators approached more than 30 individuals, according to the District Attorney’s office. All individuals contacted, including Collins, were willing to provide interviews.

    The Fair Political Practices Commission is also undertaking an administrative investigation stemming from the same facts. They are focused on violations of the Political Reform Act, according to their Sacramento office, and when the investigation is complete they will make a decision as to whether or not additional complaints might be forthcoming.

     

     

    posted to Cedar Street Times on November 15, 2011

    Topics: Breaking News, Current Edition, Front PG News

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