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Lassen County Times
Susanville, California
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October 30, 2007     Lassen County Times
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October 30, 2007
 

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Lassen County Times Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007 13A Sam Williams News Editor swillia ms@lassennews.corn Steven Trevino, Lassen Municipal Utility District's former electrical superinten- dent and operations manger, alleges he was fired for failing to pay a honor green fee at Diamond Mountain Golf Club. According to a lawsuit Trevino filed in the United States District Court Eastern District of California, the incident occurred while he and a friend were playing golf on March 10. Although the city-owned golf course had been shut down for the winter of 2006- 2007, the course used an honor system where golfers deposited a small fee in a drop box. Frank Cady, LMUD's gener- al manager, also is one of the shareholders in Sickles Golf Associates, the company that operates the golf course. While Trevino and a friend played golf, former LMUD director Marino Giannotti, acting as an agent for the golf course, asked if the golfers had paid the honor fee. According to the lawsuit, Trevino did not believe the money deposited in the drop box was properly transmitted to the golf course's owner, and he told Giannotti he had not paid the fee but would pay the money to Cady personally the following Monday. A short time later, deputies from the Lassen County Sheriff's Department contact- ed the golfers. Then Giannotti and Cady arrived. Trevino said Cady advised him he was on administrative leave and told him he should turn in his company car and keys on Monday. Trevino asked Cady .what his actions on the golf course had to do with his position at LMUD. According to the lawsuit, Trevino alleges Cady responded, "That's insubordi- nation, you're F Although he did not hear defendant Steven Trevino, the former electrical superintendent/operations manager for the Lassen Municipal Utility District, alleges he was fired after he failed to pay a $10 green fee at Diamond Mountain Golf Club. Frank Cady, LMUD's general manager, is a shareholder in Sickles Golf Associates, Inc the company that operates the city-owned 18-hole golf course. Earlier this month, Trevino and his wife Amy filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over Cady's full statement, Steven Trevino believed that his employment had been termi- nated." On Monday, March 12, Trevino said he turned in his company vehicle and keys, and Assistant General Manager Ray Luhring told him he was on administrative leave. On or about Thursday, March 15, Trevino said Cady Prepared affidavits for him- self and Giannotti to obtain a restraining order against him. According to the lawsuit, Giannotti "did not believe that a restraining order was necessary, nor did he seek one. However, the defendant Cady was insistent, claiming it would assist him in getting rid of Steven Trevino." Based upon the affidavRs, a restraining order was issued and a hearing set for April 25. Trevino appeared at that hearing and requested a con- tinuance so he could obtain legal counsel. The continu- ance was granted. After the hearing, Trevino alleges Giannotti met him outside the courthouse and said he was "sorry about the whole matter, and that R was not his idea nor his desire to seek a restraining order, but that 'they' had wanted him to do so." Giannotti subsequently wRhdrew and voluntarily dis- missed his complaint and request for a restraining order. Trevino's lawsuit noted he was "never charged with nor convicted of any crime relating to the events of March 10, 2007." Trevino alleges LMUD based his termination on a rule of conduct that reads, "any willful act of conduct undertaken in bad faith which either during or out- side of duty hours is of such a nature that it cause discredit to fall upon the district, the employee's department or division." According to Trevino's law- suit, LMUD employees "have engaged in conduct which is far more heinous, and even illegal, and have faced little or no discipline whatsoever. Moreover, the plaintiffs are informed and believe that cer- tain management-level employees have engaged in conduct which brings far more discredit upon the dis- trict, yet those employees have received little or no dis- cipline." According to Trevino's complaint, the actions taken against him are "arbitrary, capricious, pretexual and motivated by an illegal and wrongful motive." LAWSUIT, f om page 1A shareholders in Sickles Golf Associates, the company that operates the 18,hole city- owned golf course. Causes of action listed in the lawsuit include depriva- tion of procedural due pro- cess rights, deprivation of substantive due process rights, conspiracy to deprive due process rights, libel, breach of express and implied contract for contin- ued employment, infliction of emotional distress and inter- ference of contractual rights. According to the complaint, Trevino has "suffered a loss of earnings, including back pay, employment benefits, seniority, earning capacity and consequential damages in an amount which has yet to be determined with certain- ty." The Trevinos seek general and compensatory damages, special damages, punitive damages, a declaration Trevino's Constitutional rights have been violated and an inj unction preventing defendants from further unconstitutional violations, court deems propen LMUD did not return the newspaper's calls requesting comment for this story. AllegatiOns Trevino alleges LMUD did not follow its own policies in handling his dismissal and that LMUD "adopted a de facto and unconstitutional policy of violating employees' Constitutional rights by fail- ing; with deliberate indiffer- ence, toenforce its own adopt- ed policies and proce.dures when it was clearly obvious that said policies were being ignored by its management employees." According to the complainL LMUD policies and proce- dures allow an employee to be terminated or disciplined only for just cause. Trevino also alleges LMUD did not follow it policies and procedures in regard to a "Skelley hearing" about his possible termination, and alleges LMUD did not provide him with required documents or conduct the process in a timely manner. In addition, he alleges LMUD did not appoint an impartial hearing officer to reasonable attorney's fees handle the appeal of his ter- and costs and other relief the ruination. According to the complaint, the defendants "intentionally, maliciously and wantonly interfered with and delayed this review process for the purpose of causing continu- tiffs' martial relationship." Trevino also alleges the defendants engaged in "an on-going conspiracy" by "fab- ricating a false and pretextual basis upon which to termi- ing:harm, damage and injury nate his employment and by to Steven Trevino and.to pun- ish him for challenging the authority of the general man- ager to terminate his employ- ment." Because of the ongoing and extensive delays occasioned by the defendants (except Giannotti), the plaintiffs have been forced to endure ongo- ing ridicule and scorn from citizens who were aware that Steven Trevino had been ter- minated from his position. In addition, Steven Trevino was forced to seek employ- ment in another city and was not with his wife when she was diagnosed with a life- threatening illness. "Because he was forced to reside in another city, Steven Trevino was unable to pro- vide her the care, companion- ship, support, society, guid- refusing, despite clear and explicit policies and proce- dures, to provide Steven Trevino with a fair and impartial review of the deci- sion to terminate his employ- ment." Claiming he suffered dam- age to his reputation and Suf- fered humiliation, embar- rassment, grief, anxiety and stress because the defendants ,have declared, both orally and in writing, that plaintiff Steven Trevino was terminat- ed from his position for will- ful misconduct in the perfor- mance of his duties," Trevino is suing LMUD for defama- tion and libel per se. Amy Trevino alleges she was "deprived of the care, companionship, society and guidance of her husband as such has suffered injury to ance and treatment he would her martial relationship " have, but for his unlawful ter- mination," the lawsuit alleges. "The conduct of the defendants, and each of them, proximately caused a devas- tating impact upon the plain- and seeks damages in excess of $I00,000. The Trevinos seek a jury trial in federal court. located at Honey Lake Campground Our goal is good food and friendly service! Monday-Saturday 1-8 Sunday 1-7 Phone nd Internet from Frontier and unwrap a FREE PC. Dell InstlmiroeTM 531s ($400 value) * 2.0 GHz Processor * 80GB* Hard Drive 512MB RAM* DVD-ROM Drive * Dell Multimedia Monitor Windows VTsta Home Basic Edition Start the holidays off right with a FREE PC from Frontier. Simply order High-Speed Internet and UNLIMITED U.S. Long Distance voice-calling with enhanced features and a two- or three-year price protection agreement for qualifying customers. Both for just High-Speed Crylta .Jear Internet Phone So call today and we'll send you a FREE PC. By the way, it's a Dell" PC valued at $400. But hurry. 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