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Hollister
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June 23, 2021

Sides to argue witness relevance in corruption case

A judge on Tuesday will hear arguments in a corruption case
against Supervisor Richard Scagliotti to consider allowing
testimony of a witness the petitioner believes will prove the
county illegally awarded its latest vehicle maintenance
contract.
Hollister – A judge on Tuesday will hear arguments in a corruption case against Supervisor Richard Scagliotti to consider allowing testimony of a witness the petitioner believes will prove the county illegally awarded its latest vehicle maintenance contract.

The attorney for petitioner Juan Monteon has been haggling with county lawyers over the relevancy of testimony from sheriff’s officer Genene Proffitt. She oversaw the office’s vehicle maintenance at the time of the contract’s approval in 2002 with San Benito Tire. Monteon’s attorney, Mike Pekin, views her as the key witness to his case.

The allegation that Scagliotti influenced the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the contract – because he was a prospective business partner of shop owner Larry Cain – is one of three remaining charges in the civil suit. At the time of its approval, Scagliotti had been negotiating with Cain to move the shop into a property owned by the supervisor.

When Monteon filed the suit in December, there were six claims against Scagliotti and other supervisors. The other two remaining charges allege fraud in the county’s Financing Corp. and that Scagliotti influenced a property re-zoning from which he gained financially. Scagliotti and the county have denied all the charges.

Focusing on the vehicle maintenance charge, Pekin is trying to show that prior work performed on sheriff’s vehicles at Autoworks – one of three shops to bid on the contract – was far superior to that of San Benito Tire.

He believes Proffitt’s testimony will prove the county should have chosen Autoworks over San Benito Tire. Pekin says a deposition taken from Proffitt shows her potential as a witness.

“I think there was probably a general consensus that perhaps the work quality had been better under Autoworks,” Proffitt told Pekin during the July 8 deposition.

The county is trying to block her testimony because its attorney, William Owen, says it isn’t relevant to the claim Scagliotti used influence to get San Benito Tire the contract. Owen couldn’t be reached Thursday.

Owen, meanwhile, took Monteon’s deposition as well and doesn’t believe the local bail bondsman is pulling the strings on the suit, he said in an August interview. He has motioned for Pekin to reveal who’s financing the court action.

Pekin says the county has no business blocking witness testimony. He calls the court action a “taxpayers’ suit” and says he won’t reveal who’s financing it.

“The people who have ultimate responsibility of managing this county are continuing to throw up obstacles to disclosing how they’re managing the county,” Pekin said.

Kollin Kosmicki covers politics for the Free Lance. Reach him at 637-5566, ext. 331 or [email protected]

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