In October of 2012, we reported that then Brea City Council Candidate Steve Vargas’ lawsuit against the City of Brea had cost taxpayers over $80K. The lawsuit was over the validity of City Council-authored rebuttals to two 2012 ballot measures, according to the O.C. Register.
On September 22, 2015, Vargas, who is now a Brea City Council Member, won a motion for attorney fees in the amount of $393,514.50.
What this means is that the attorney fees we cited in 2012 have mushroomed to almost $400K for what many termed to be a trivial lawsuit. The local media has not reported what is likely a near a million dollar cost to Brea taxpayers when cost of city staff time is added to the final bill.
Vargas campaigned as being a fiscal conservative. He is a “Tea Party” Republican. At the 12/15 Brea City Council meeting Vargas went on about how eliminating a handicapped access from Lagos Park improvements would save $20,000.00, as if he’s concerned about saving the taxpayers money. We will most likely witness similar hypocrisy at the 2/2 Public Hearing on water rates.
The irony inherent in the case, according to Markman and Murdock, is that Vargas supported Measure T, which aimed to limit raises for certain city employees, according to the O.C. Register. The ideology behind the measure was to save money for the taxpayers. But because Vargas kept beating a dead horse, the City of Brea is now stuck with a pile of legal fees.
It should also be noted that on Wednesday, June 3, 2015, Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Leversen found Vargas liable for embezzling $1,570 from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Brea Post 5384, according to the Orange Juice Blog. THE BREAN broke and has been covering this story. Click here and here for more.
On April 20, 2015, VFW Brea Post 5384 filed a lawsuit against Steve Vargas for embezzling 14 checks that were written out to “Brea VFW Post 5384.” Vargas took these checks and deposited them into his own organization’s bank account, the North Orange County Veterans Club. After several fruitless attempts to convince Vargas to give them their money back, the Brea VFW filed suit.
We believe that Brea’s taxpayers have a right to know about the waste of taxpayer dollars on this trivial lawsuit and how the cost was greatly escalated by Vargas’ continued motions. As we originally reported in October 2012, the ballot materials that were at the heart of the lawsuit had already been printed so the case was moot from the beginning.