Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Former Donovan State Prison guard Art Moreno seems to take advantage of his partner's new job--or is David Bejarano asking too much for Security Firm?

Somebody's being unreasonable here, and it's hard to know who it is. Perhaps Art Moreno figured a huge windfall had ended up in his lap when Bejarano was chosen as Chula Vista's top cop. The new job means Bejarano must give up the company. Bejarano says either his partner pays for his half or the company should be dissolved. But maybe the problem is this: perhaps the company isn't really worth much without Bejarano in it.

Top Chula Vista cop, partner in dispute

Police chief co-owns security company
By Tanya Sierra
May 7, 2010

In addition to being Chula Vista’s police chief, where he earns an annual salary of $187,000, David Bejarano is involved in a number of other activities. Among them:

• Chula Vista Elementary School District trustee

• Co-owner of Presidential Security Services

• Vibra Bank board member

• South Bay Community Services board member

• Consultant for personal injury law firm Tatro & Zamoyski

CHULA VISTA — A business partner has accused Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano of writing fraudulent checks on the private security firm’s account, an allegation that the city forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office.

City policy prohibits police officers from owning or working for private security firms in Chula Vista, and Bejarano’s efforts to dissociate himself from Chula Vista-based Presidential Security are at the root of the business partners’ dispute.

Bejarano co-owns Presidential Security Services with former Donovan State Prison guard Art Moreno. Bejarano stepped down as president of the company in August when he became police chief. About that time, he also curtailed his duties at the firm and wanted his name removed from advertising, marketing and other public material...

Bejarano’s lawyer, Joseph Casas, said the chief is the victim of a smear campaign. He added that his client’s name was removed from bank records without proper authority...

The corporation’s board of directors is composed of Moreno and his wife, Colleen, and Bejarano and his wife, Esperanza.

Bejarano, a former San Diego police chief, has filed suit in San Diego Superior Court to disband the company. In the suit, Bejarano alleges that Moreno and his wife “repeatedly breached their fiduciary duties and wrongfully acted in their own self-interest.”...

Presidential continues to pay David Bejarano a salary. Last year, he earned $73,820 with the firm and charged about $15,000 on a company credit card, Moreno said.

City Attorney Bart Miesfeld said as long as Bejarano is trying to cut his ties with the company, and as long as his responsibilities there do not interfere with his duties as police chief, he is not violating city policy that prohibits a police officer from working for or having a financial interest in a private police agency in the city.

Simon Mayeski, a member of California Common Cause’s San Diego chapter, questioned that assessment.

“I wonder why the city attorney is trying to write around this regulation, which sounds like a reasonable and necessary restriction,” Mayeski said. “It opens up way too many questions and puts the chief in a less-than-perfect position going about his business.”

Common Cause is a nonprofit that says it strives for an “open, honest and accountable government.”

Presidential Security has a number of contracts to provide security guards for Chula Vista businesses, including two shelters run by South Bay Community Services, where Bejarano serves as a board member.

City Councilmen Rudy Ramirez and Steve Castaneda said Thursday that Bejarano should have left Presidential Security by now.

“There should have been a specific timeline in which he had to divest himself from that business,” Castaneda said.

Mayor Cheryl Cox said she backs Sandoval and Miesfeld.

“I’m confident that the city manager and city attorney have done their due diligence,” she said.

[Due diligence? Does Cheryl Cox have any idea what that means? When she was a CVESD trustee, she helped make sure that no investigation was ever done regarding a 2001 report by two teachers that they believed there might be a mass shooting at Castle Park Elementary. At the same time, the district specifically claimed it had done its due diligence.]

Meanwhile, the future of Presidential Security and its 40 employees remains unclear.

After Bejarano was hired as police chief, he suggested to Moreno that they divide the company, according to an September e-mail exchange provided by Moreno.

“It can be done quickly, with minimal costs and you and your family can operate your share any way you want and my wife will operate our share,” Bejarano wrote to Moreno in a Sept. 28 e-mail.

Moreno said Bejarano should sell his interest in the company.

“Our last offer to him was $50,000, and we never heard back from him,” Moreno said.

Casas, Bejarano’s attorney, said Moreno has not made a serious offer.

“Mr. Moreno can put an offer on the table to us, which he has yet to do in any meaningful way,” Casas said.

A court date on Bejarano’s suit to disband the company has not been set.

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