San Simeon manager accuses DA of abuse of power, political motivation

February 21, 2022

By KAREN VELIE

Attorneys for San Simeon Community Services District Manager Charlie Grace recently filed court documents accusing prosecutors of abuse of power in support of a political agenda. The documents also asserts Grace is innocent of all the crimes in which he is accused.

It has become commonplace for defendants in high profile cases, following a contested ruling by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Matt Guerrero, to claim prosecutors are bias because of political conflicts of interest. In this case, Grace is threatening to depose whistleblowers and to sue for damages.

In 2016, Grace negotiated a contract with Grace Environmental Services, a private company he owns. Grace then allegedly used his position as the head of the district to funnel money to his private company.

After discovering multiple conflicts of interest, whistleblowers Julie Tacker and Hank Krzciuk reported their concerns to multiple government agencies including the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office and state and federal grant providers. These reports led government officials to mount investigations, cancel grants, lodge fines and file civil charges.

At a San Simeon board meeting in 2017, Krzciuk “criticized the district’s job bidding process, stating the district was violating state laws.” Even though the law allows the public to criticize government, Grace then threatened to sue Krzciuk for interference with his business.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed a civil suit in September alleging unfair and illegal business practices and false advertising against Grace and his company. The district attorney’s case includes nine causes of action primarily associated with conflicts of interest, though one of the charges relates to threatening Krzciuk.

Grace’s attorneys responded by accusing prosecutors of collaborating with the whistleblowers, who the defendant claims are politically motivated. Grace again threatened to file lawsuits against his critics.

“The complaint is groundless, legally and factually, and represents the culmination of a conscious abuse of power by the District Attorney’s office and the Deputy D.A. who filed the complaint, the latter working with local ‘activists’ who have targeted Mr. Grace in pursuit of a political agenda, despite full knowledge of the true facts, which will establish conclusively that Mr. Grace has violated none of the laws baselessly invoked by the District Attorney’s office,” according to Grace’s attorney John Flynn. “Defendants will prove what they have stated here, on the basis of the deposition testimony of the activists with whom the Deputy D.A. has been collaborating, and other relevant evidence.”

An activist for decades, this is the first time a government official has threatened Tacker with legal action, she said.

“Their court filing tries to make being an activist a bad thing,” Tacker said. “It also sounds like they think that the activists tricked the district attorney into filing a complaint. Neither is true.”

The California Fair Political Practices Commission voted in November to fine Grace $4,500 for the “inherent harm” he did to the community by sitting on both sides of the negotiating table.


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Gramelin

His response is to sue EVERYONE?? What is all his “Evidence”? What Evidence would exonerate him? And why didn;t he already defend himself with this “evidence” that would keep it from going this far? Either Grace gave the contract to his own business or he didn’t. Seems this is cut and dry. He’s a Spin doctor? I can see him shaking his hands at the camera’s …”Nothing to see here!” And what Possible “Political Agenda” would benefit anyone calling him out? You go Julie and Hank! Thank for watching out for ALL of us!


kayaknut

Since Charles Grace is an expert at doing it himself I guess he would know when someone else is abusing their power.


Jorge Estrada

I don’t have a dog in this fight but the public, at large, does cover the expenses for unproductive time and lost opportunities.


fish

rate payers will flip this bill.


nunsense

“ The California Fair Political Practices Commission voted in November to fine Grace $4,500 for the “inherent harm” he did to the community by sitting on both sides of the negotiating table.” so? Isn’t that happens when the unions get pols elected and then negotiate with them for new contracts?