HMG-CN SPECIAL REPORT - The Palms, Steven’s Steakhouse, The Dal Rae, The Vintage. They are some of the most elegant, exclusive, and expensive dining rooms in Los Angeles. A steak can cost as much as $65, and that doesn’t account for additional ‘toppers’ of bleu cheese crumbles, mushrooms and grilled onions at $6 dollars a spoonful.
But for Gilbert Cedillo Jr., a former executive with the Central Basin Municipal Water District, dining and enjoying expensive steaks and ‘toppers’ at these restaurants was almost an everyday occurrence.
Receipts obtained via a public records request by Hews Media Group-Community News document how Cedillo Jr. spent more than $15,000 over a 23-month period to wine and dine private consultants; consultants who landed hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts, some overseen by Cedillo, Jr. himself.
CBMWD is currently involved in two criminal probes by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Cedillo Jr. is the son of current Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo. HMG-CN reviewed more than 40 pages from the 31-year old Cedillo’ s credit card receipts that showed he spent a great deal of time and taxpayer money in swanky LA eateries.
Cedillo wined and dined Tom Calderon, who at the time, was a Board Member on a San Diego firm called Water2Save. From 2009-2012, Water2Save was paid $222,000 for ‘Landscape Services,’ including over $91,000 after Cedillo was hired.
They went to the Turf Terrace for lunch and spent $53. Cedillo Jr. enjoyed a Seagram’s Gin at 2:00 in the afternoon as they dined.
Calderon is a former State Assemblyman who is also laying the ground-work for a possible run for a California State Senate seat that is currently held by his brother Senator Ronald Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello.
Earlier this year, FBI officials, armed with search warrants and guns raided Senator Calderon’s Sacramento office and carted off boxes of potential evidence in their investigation.
Along with his expense account, Cedillo Jr. was paid $112,000 annually even though he did not possess a college degree.
He also received $22,000 in taxpayer funds to finish his degree at the private Azusa Pacifica University.
And when he drove to the airport or to seminars in Las Vegas or San Diego, he was paid .51 cents per mile, sometimes collecting over $400 for mileage.
It was also revealed exclusively by HMG-CN that Cedillo Jr. oversaw the award of millions of dollars of contracts even though he had no experience or knowledge of the contracts contents. Several of those contracts were given to companies where Calderon served as a top executive.
One of the very first trips Cedillo took after getting the job at CBMWD was in December 2011.
Documents show that he, former CBMWD Attorney Doug Wance, and Tom Calderon attended the “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Just hours prior to the performance Wance hosted a dinner for Calderon, Cedillo, and other executives from CBMWD at the exclusive “Strip Steak: A Michael Mina Restaurant” that is also housed at Mandalay Bay.
A closer examination of the dining receipts revealed a concerted effort to wine and dine people who had submitted bids for contracts overseen by Cedillo Jr. and CBMWD.
Claudia Cruz the District Director for Senator Ronald Calderon and Cedillo Jr. enjoyed a ‘traditional prime rib, with garlic mushrooms’ for $66 at Rosemead’s Charley Brown’s in January 2012. Cedillo and Cruz also visited the same restaurant in March of 2012 where Cedillo Jr. turned in a receipt for himself claiming a $55 reimbursement for one ‘Charley Prime Rib’ lunch special.
Bell Gardens Mayor Pro-Tem Sergio Infanzon and Cedillo Jr. dined frequently together. The two enjoyed a massive $193 lunch at The Los Angeles Palm on South Flower Street in late January 2012.
They dined on Caesar Salad, Lettuce Wedges, and Prime New York Steaks that cost $46 and $50, respectively.
The two longtime friends and political allies also dined at Steven’s Steak House in Commerce in March, 2012, where Cedillo Jr. had a $33 Rib Eye Steak.
Former CBMWD GM Art Aguilar and Cedillo, Jr. also dined frequently, going to Steven’s Steak House in Commerce. They dined on salads, prime rib, New York Steaks, mushrooms, and onions that totaled $125 and $88.
Cedillo also had a $145 dinner with Toni DeAztlan to “discuss district matters” at the Vintage Café on Bright Avenue in Uptown Whittier in April, 2012.
Toni DeAztlan was the daughter of Tizoc DeAztlan; Tizoc was awarded a $40,000 contract under extremely questionable circumstances, as reported in HMG-CN, the award process overseen by Cedillo Jr.
Toni DeAztlan signed her own agreement, again overseen by Cedillo Jr., for “Election Selection Services” in November 2011 for $25,000.
Tom Calderon and Cedillo frequented the Dal Rae in Pico Rivera and spent $243 at two different lunches. Both dined on prime steaks and left $39 in tips to the wait staff.
(Brian Hews is publisher and Randy Economy is editor of the Los Cerritos News … where this special report was first posted. LCN has a long history of exclusives and exposes. This Insider Report was provided CityWatch by Hews Media Group-Community News.) Photo credit: Randy Economy
Vol 11 Issue 72
Pub: Sept 6, 2013