Friday, August 14, 2009

Bonifacio "Bonny" Garcia resigns as Wasco city attorney

After a grand jury investigation and $500,000 in payments to attorney Bonny Garcia of Garcia Calderon Ruiz, the City of Wasco finally parted ways with Mr. Garcia this past March.

Bye bye Bonifacio
March 23, 2009
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Jennifer McLain

The city attorney known for his late - and high - billing habits resigned from his post as Rosemead's legal defender on March 19, reporter Rebecca Kimitch confirmed today.

Bonifacio Garcia was hired on April 3, 2007, the same day that the city was slapped with a lawsuit by a former city employee alleging that former Councilman John Nunez subjected her to sexual harassment. The lawsuit was later dropped and there was a settlement, and officials have said that Garcia's hiring date was just a coincidence that it fell on the same day the lawsuit was filed.

During the time that Garcia was employed, he charged the city more than double the amount it budgeted for legal fees. Garcia and Nunez worked together at the Garvey School District.

The City Council will consider hiring Joe Montes of Burke, Williams and Sorensen as the interim city attorney.

See See also

The article below talks about Garcia's 2007 misadventures in Rosemead and Wasco.

Rosemead puts cap on legal fees; Move comes after city billed $100,000 in 3 months
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
September 4, 2007
By Jennifer McLain, Staff Writer

...In Wasco, the hiring of Garcia's firm prompted a grand jury investigation, which was released in July.

The Kern County grand jury alleges the Wasco City Council violated the state's open meeting law by deciding in secret to fire the city attorney and replace the firm with Garcia, Calderon and Ruiz.

The report states that since Garcia was hired, "the city is incurring substantial increases in the cost of having a city attorney. It is estimated that this will cost four to five times more than the previous city attorney."

Garcia denied the grand jury's allegations. On behalf of the city, Garcia responded, "The grand jury's mistaken legal conclusions could have been avoided with a reasonable amount of legal research and factual investigation."

According to Wasco's finance records, Garcia's firm billed the city $148,024 for six months worth of work. In comparison, the previous law firm billed the city $34,178 for the previous six months of work.

"He is not overcharging the city. Some people say that his contract rate is too high, but he is charging the city what the contract rate is," said Wasco City Manager Ron Mittag.

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said an attorney can charge whatever he wants to charge. "The real question of course is, `Is this guy providing his money's worth?', and that is something for the city to determine."

Wasco Councilman Tilo Cortez said he thinks Garcia is "screwing the city."

"Bonny says you get what you pay for," Cortez said. "But I don't see what we are getting for the extra money that we are paying him." ...

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