Chula Vista's former police head David Bejarano accused of check fraud by partner

“I had made every offer to remove myself"

Complications for the City of Chula Vista and police chief David Bejarano have begun to pile up like cars on a rain-slicked San Diego freeway. In early April, Art Moreno, head of Presidential Security Services, filed a complaint with the Chula Vista Police Department against Bejarano for “check fraud,” writing unauthorized checks on the company’s account. Bejarano, a former president of the company, is still a shareholder, though he has filed suit in Superior Court to dissolve the business. In the meantime, information continues to surface regarding the intertwined relationship between Bejarano, the City of Chula Vista, and South Bay Community Services, a nonprofit social service agency.

Presidential Security is a private security company with four corporate partners, David and Esperanza Bejarano and Art and Colleen Moreno. In 2006, when the Bejaranos and Morenos joined forces, Art Moreno was a guard at Donovan state prison. He retired in April after 25 years. The company hired the Bejaranos’ son Michael as a security guard, and he was later promoted to office manager.

David Bejarano wears and has worn many hats. From 1999 to 2003, he served as the chief of the San Diego Police Department. According to his statement of economic interests, he draws an annual pension of over $100,000 from the City of San Diego.

He currently sits on the Chula Vista Elementary School District’s school board. The board appointed him to the seat vacated by Cheryl Cox when she became mayor, and Bejarano was elected to the board two years later. His statement of economic interests lists his wife as an executive secretary for the school district.

Bejarano is also on the board of directors of a Chula Vista bank that he cofounded. A 2008 Union-Tribune article reported that Vibra Bank “hopes to capitalize on the large number of Mexican entrepreneurs and professionals who are launching businesses on this side of the border.” The bank’s website identifies Bejarano as the owner of Presidential Security Consulting Company and describes the company as “providing security consulting services to foreign-owned companies operating in Mexico.”

The media reported in early May on Moreno’s check-fraud accusation. At the same time, the public learned that Bejarano owned a private security company and that this is a violation of city policy. The Union-Tribune interviewed Chula Vista’s city attorney Bart Miesfeld. In the paper’s May 7 story, Miesfeld stated that “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.…”

But Chula Vista’s city policy number 903 says, “Sworn Police Department employees are prohibited from engaging in any outside activities for compensation, business ownership or partnership, or employment activity that… (2) Is a private police agency within the city limits of Chula Vista.”

Bejarano was sworn in as Chula Vista’s police chief on September 1, 2009. Three weeks later, on September 23, he resigned as president of Presidential Security, signing an Amended Shareholders Agreement. The effective date of the agreement was August 28. The document states: “As of the Effective Date…Raul David Bejarano resigns as President of PSSI. As a result of this change, Raul David Bejarano…will not receive any salary or vehicle allowance beyond the split discussed in Paragraph 3 below. Raul David Bejarano’s name shall not be used on any marketing or other public material created by PSSI.”

The split discussed in paragraph 3 concerned net profits, with 46 percent distributed to the Morenos, 44 percent to the Bejaranos, and 10 percent to the corporation’s reserve account. According to Moreno, Bejarano continued to receive monthly checks from Presidential Security through April 2010, and he continued to be involved in running the company.

Moreno provided the Reader several emails. One, written by Bejarano on September 25, 2009, reads: “There is no shortage on our salaries for this month, based on a revised total. Due to the large down payments for Gen Liability Insurance, Umbrella Insurance and Workers’ Comp and to maintaining good daily cash flow, our salary for this month was based on a total of $5000.”

Another email, written by Bejarano to Moreno on September 27, says, “Michael reviews the bills on a daily basis and pays as they arrive. Purchases are made as needed; we’ll continue to run daily admin. responsibilities as we have before.”

According to Moreno, Bejarano has insisted on getting daily activity reports from Presidential Security. As late as January 6, 2010, Bejarano intervened with personnel on behalf of his son Michael, whose job performance was perceived by the Morenos as a problem. David Bejarano emailed a Presidential employee, “You have no authorization to start handling the scheduling. Per corporate law you do not have our authorization.… All employees will be notified that Michael will continue to handle the scheduling. If you start doing the scheduling, then you are being insubordinate to half of the board of directors and your job could also be at risk.”

The “fraudulent” check issue stems from changes made in the Amended Shareholders Agreement. According to Moreno, after the amendment was signed and the bank was informed of the change, the bank removed Bejarano’s name from Presidential Security’s corporate account. Bejarano believes his name was improperly removed. On September 30, Bejarano emailed Moreno, “The title of the President was very specific to ‘marketing and public related materials’ pls refer to the amended agreement. All the items you refer to bank account, Corp. checks etc. have nothing to do with the title of president.”

Moreno’s complaint to the Chula Vista Police Department states that Bejarano signed 15 checks after his name was removed from the account. In an interview in early June, Bejarano said that “any director has an absolute right to write or make an expense on behalf of the company.” He said he had never been told by the bank nor received any correspondence from the bank advising him that he could not write checks. Asked when he had last written a check, he said it was sometime in January of this year. He added, “Mr. Moreno decided not to pay my son, who was the office manager, the full salary he had been receiving for well over a year, so the business checks had to do with paying him the difference.”

Bejarano said that he doesn’t know when the business will be dissolved. He said that long before he was appointed chief of police, “I had made every offer to remove myself from the partnership but was unsuccessful. Then, finally, in September or October I was compelled to file a civil lawsuit to remove myself from the partnership.… Since my appointment, I have not been involved in running anything involving the business, I’m not involved in day-to-day operations, I don’t talk to employees or clients, no involvement other than on paper. I have a financial interest. And again, all this has been disclosed to the city manager.”

Presidential Security has had contracts with a number of Chula Vista companies, including South Bay Expressway. It also has had a contract with South Bay Community Services, a nonprofit agency that helps families in crisis and is funded in part with taxpayer money. In 2009, Chula Vista’s city council authorized $819,728 in funds to the organization “for homeless prevention and rapid re-housing activities.”

Bejarano sits on the board of South Bay Community Services. The contract that his company, Presidential Security, has had with the agency for several years is for $97,454. (The contract expired on June 30 and has not been renewed.)

There is some dispute about when the contract was initiated. Patty Chavez, the agency’s community relations director, said she believes Bejarano originally brought in the contract in 2005 under the name of U.S. Security and that he was invited onto the board later, in November 2006. “I was not on the board when the contract was obtained,” Bejarano stated in a June 1 interview.

However, Moreno has provided the Reader a copy of the original contract dated November 2006. A November 20, 2006 email from the agency supports this time line. Other documentation indicates that Bejarano was a director at South Bay Community Services as early as 2005. That year, the agency listed Bejarano among its board members on Form 990, an Internal Revenue Service form that nonprofits are required to file.

Chavez says that the agency’s bylaws, which are consistent with state law, allow up to 49 percent of the directors to have contracts with the agency. Contracts with directors, however, are subject to California Corporations Code section 5233, which pertains to self-dealing transactions. Before approving a contract with a director, the board must either obtain approval from the state’s attorney general or determine that it “could not have obtained a more advantageous arrangement with reasonable effort.”

In 2008, Form 990 asked the question, “During the tax year, did any person who is a current or former officer, director, trustee, or key employee have a direct business relationship with the organization?” The agency answered no, despite its contract with Presidential Security. When asked about this discrepancy, Kathryn Lembo, the agency’s chief executive, said, “We answered wrong. I’m going to take full responsibility for this, and I’m going to ask to have it amended.”

Many people in Chula Vista were surprised to discover that Lembo had a hand in picking the city’s new chief of police. She sat on the Community Advisory Panel with three other people to give input last summer. Regarding this procedure, Bejarano said, “She was one of the community representatives on the panel, and she also disclosed to the city manager that, in fact, three finalists all were board directors for South Bay Community Services, and they were all interviewed by Kathy and the rest of the panel. The other members that were finalists for this position are former captain Don Hunter, who was a former captain here, and also Chief Adolfo Gonzalez. My relationship has always been professional with Kathy Lembo. I don’t socialize with her, never have.” Hunter has subsequently retired from the police department and become a full-time director at South Bay Community Services.

Is there or has there been an investigation into Moreno’s charges? According to Bejarano, in an interview on May 7 with Channel 6 News, “I’ve actually been investigated, reviewed, by an independent law enforcement agency. They have come to the conclusion — this was two months ago — that the allegations are totally unfounded and they’re baseless.” Asked in June the name of the law enforcement agency that had conducted the investigation, Bejarano said it was the district attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office, in accordance with its policy, was unable to confirm or deny that an investigation had taken place. On May 26, more than a month after filing charges, Moreno received a letter from Chula Vista’s city attorney, Bart Miesfeld, stating that an initial investigation is under way and that the complaint has been forwarded to the district attorney’s office.

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Dirty cops milking the taxpayers over and over and over again-does this suprise anyone?

My crystal ball tells me that in the near future of Chula Vista, yet another executive will be leaving their post along with the "standard severance" package of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars. This latest episode might be funny but for the incompetence and borderline fraud involved.

Too sweet! Too cozy! Too bad! Chula Vista residents were bamboozleded again. I think Southbay Community Services actually had an office in the Police Department before the budget crunch. What in the world was Kathy Lembo doing on a citizen's panel to interview and recommend a new police chief? Can you say conflict of interest?
Southbay Community Services tell us what a great job they are doing but with all the public money going into their coffers that should be a given. What about the Salvation Army? do they get a chance to show us what they can do? I need to know just how intertwined the city is with SBCS.

So, is this a self-dealing transaction?

That 49% of the board of directors can have contracts with the "non-profit" agency puts non-profits in a new light.

SO the City of Chula Vista allowed someone who had a financial interest with a police chief candidate to help select that chief- and that is the person chosen. Did Lembo disclose this relationship to the City Manager? SHould he have asked? Is the whole selection process tainted now? South Bay Community Services has a Board member with a $97K self dealing contract for services that couldnt be found elsewhere? and they just happened to tell the IRS that no such arrangment existed? and the nonprofit PR person just guesses at important info? Chula Vista city management just lets Bejarano flaunt his rule breaking in their face? so if i am a chula cop can i just break rules and not get punished like the boss man? do i even want to follow a dude chosen under such circumstances and who appears less than truthful? just a few questions...

Lets see, we are also forgetting that the he was appointed to the Chula Vista School Board, after his good friend Cheryl Cox vacated the seat to become mayor, oh, and then she picked his good friend Kathy Lembo with whom he has a contract and a board position, to help make him police chief, oh, and then kathy makes one of his competitors a director at sbcs, lol, wtf is going on in Chula Vista. And the new City Manager sees nothing wrong with any of this, what a clown he is. Well, just a little side note Chief, looks like you and Kathy Lembo picked the wrong people to fight with didn't you. A young girl came to you for help as a figure of justice that you portray, she was being treated wrongly and unfairly by one of the people in your incestuous web of CV politics (we both know which one, right?), and you chose to not help her, which probably is understandable, considering that she didn't help you get this cush job you don't deserve, and she didn't help you get that cool 97K contract with sbcs, but not only did you not help, you belittled and allowed her to be treated unfairly, and now look whats happening, lol, all your dirtiness is coming out for all to see. But you know what the best thing is, Cheif? There is still more to come, lol, that is the best thing. You are a hypocrite and slimey slippery politician. And now everyone gets to see your fall, lol. Kathy, isn't this just beautiful? You're really not smarter than everyone else, are you? You both should do the honorable thing and resign, but then, neither one of you has any honor, too bad.


Come on tijuanaguero - give us the rest of the 411!

Interesting, but I was also wondering surfpuppy about your first comment--I've read some of your comments following other stories and you seem to know a lot about the city....

This information raises many questions about these so-called non-profits and their lack of public oversight. Hopefully these issues become the subject of public debate and changes will be forthcoming. However, the city attorney owes the public an immediate answer to the question of what took so long to initiate an investigation!

When I complained that a community selection committee should have representatives from the four active community groups-CrossroadsII, NWCA, SWCVCA, and SBF I was told that the city did not want to "embarass" the candidates with inappropriate questions. The three people who were the "community" selection committee were representatives of 3 community non-profits. I don't think any of them live in CV but their organizations all dealt directly with the police department which was the criteria used by the City Manger to select them. By the way there were only 3 final candidate who were interviewed and all 3 are or were on the board of SBCS? Also I got this info in an email, which is interesting and shows that being friends with the mayor and the DA really can make a difference in whether one is prosecuted in this county: "Hello -Saw the story on Bejarano – I just happened to check on a deposition on another legal matter involving South Bay Community Services and found quotes, under oath, made by Bejarano. He was being questioned about the $97K per year contract Presidential had with South Bay Community Services while he served on their Board. Regarding this contract, at the deposition on October 19, 2009, under oath, Mr. Bejarano stated: “ Since my appointment of Chief of Police, I’m not involved”, “I’m not involved in any operations involving the company”. Apparently, according to the U-T story, he was still writing checks.

Interesting, but I was also wondering surfpuppy about your first comment

OK, I was over the top on the "dirty cop" comment, but I wanted to convey that I think the ethics of many of the people we are paying big bucks to in LE and gov are pretty bad. They are not very ethical or moral IMO-dirty might be too strong, might not be.

I made the comment about the cops milking the system over and over based on the following;

1) Bejarano is collecting a huge pension from the SDPD, and he has also worked in other LE agencies where he may also be getting a pension, and receiving that pension the entire time working as the CV Police Chief-that to me is milking the system big time.

2) Bejarano, if this story is to be taken at face value (and I am not saying it should be b/c it is just one side of the story), is also running a private company in direct violation of the muni policies, while collecting at least one huge pension and also getting paid big bucks as CV Police Chief. That is wrong.

I'm sorry, but this situation right here is why this state and every muni in it is so screwed up-b/c these people, and thousands more to a lessor degree, are milking the system for billions of dollars. They would never in a million years come close to banking 1/5th of what they are milking the gov/taxpayers for in government if they were in the real world-b/c the real world does not work that way.

I think everyone should be outraged at this type of conduct, and don't know why more aren't.

Surfpuppy -I am outraged on several fronts: 1) Bejarano's self serving behavior 2)Chula Vista management seemingly going along and downplaying his rule breaking 3) the tainted selection process whereby a person with whom he had a financial relationship participated in selecting him 4)The arrogance or cluelessness of South Bay Community Services in deciding to give a boardmember a lucrative contract, then not report it to the IRS as required,and possibly ignore state law on such "self dealing" transactions 5) that the rest of this non-profit board went along with this action, rubber stamped it ??? what were they thinking ? Nobody's looking ?

There seems to be a lot of wink, wink, nod, nod, going on, people thinking that they can get away with stuff within their little cliques- that's all fine and dandy EXCEPT when you are dealing with tax payer monies,or other peoples money in general - I hope there is some accoutability from some direction- because that will keep a chek upon continuing such behavior or worse behavior in public positions.

GOOD DISCUSSION but what is going to make the City Attorney, the City Manager and the Mayor and City Council face up to the dirt so far swept under the rug. This has been in the works since May 25 and I have seen not the slightest inclination from any of them to even acknowledge there is a problem, I have many questions? 1) How did this cozy relationship between SBCS and the city start? When? 2) How much money has the city sent their way? 3) Has anyone from the city ever looked at the budget of SBCS, the lofty salaries paid?

There seems to be a lot of wink, wink, nod, nod, going on, people thinking that they can get away with stuff within their little cliques

You nailed it right there.

Chula Vista politics, has and continues to be a very ugly cesspool. There is a south bay political machine that has complete disregard for the laws and rules that govern them. I guess its there own little version of Camelot. The City Attorney is supposed to protect the city from this type of exposure and embarrassment, this city attorney is just rubber stamping it, maybe that is why Mayor Cox and her cronies picked him. This is a disgustingly blatent display of "I am above the law".

lifesbeengood, sorry I can't provide a link. I received the policy through a public records request. Subject heading is Activities Outside City Employment. There are prohibitions for city employees, police department employees, and fire department employees.

Tijuanaguero, I think you're right about the appointed city attorney and that's why Chula Vistans voted to elect their city's attorney instead of having one appointed. Let's just hope our new attorney does what he was elected to do and represent the interests of the people.

Long story has been coming that the Chula Vista Chief of police is very well involved with Kathryn Lembo-SBCS. Call it conflict of interest-but when someone is a board member for a non-profit organization and also an active community representative i.e.; (Chief of Police) suppose to be a transparency to the tax-payers of San Diego County. We should all be outrage at the South-Bay Community Services and the Chief of Police of Chula Vista. No wonder Kathryn had a contract where her staff had offices on the first floor of the Chula Vista Police Department and worked side-to-side with the officers. HHmmmmm, I wonder what else will be coming out in the near future. I mean South-Bay Community Services only take federal and county funded programs (Tax-payer money) Our money which we contribute every month to see people like her make 6 figures. What about her husband and the checks he gets from South Bay Community Services for consulting…..Wink-Wink to that

Wink-Wink to that

LOL.................that is the operating model for gov employment-and of course if you're connected you're getting the $100K+ comp packages!

wow! i just heard about this story and I am amazed at all the comments! This was a scoop ! good old fashioned investigating journalism unraveling all the interconnections between these self serving people. well shame on chula vista for putting up with bejarano and this South Bay Community Services- that contract with a board member is scandalous ! This person Lembo then helping select Bejarano is scandalous ! he was chosen under a rotten process - for me i only heard from a former employee that this place, South Bay Community Services refuses to recognize Cesar Chavez Day- I found this omission very weird for a large South Bay entity - their website boasts over 200 employees- i would like to learn more about this place and what is going on there. I really liked this article.

All this concern on the part of the people but nary a murmur from City Hall. Can they really still be hoping this will go away if they continue to ignore it? SBCS is planning their big annual October Bash for their cronies if anyone wants to see the VIP players face to face. Could be interesting.

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