The City of San Bernardino is under fire yet again, and this time, council member, Fred Shorett is the main focus behind a long list of pay-to-play corruption. Minority business owner, Manny Acosta of Pepe’s Towing, has filed suit against several council members, including Fred Shorett, who was elected on in March of 2009. Fred, a 3rd generation San Bernardino resident, has been accused of arranging illegal contracts with several local tow companies in exchange for financial kickbacks.
Opened in 1978 by Manny’s parents, Jose and Maria Delfina Acosta, Pepe’s Towing is a proud Latino owned business that’s been denied city contracts for over 20 years. As more evidence surfaces that seem to place Shorett in some very questionable situations, it’s becoming more clear that unless a business is willing to pay to participate with the city and its council, it stands no chance in gaining any support or work.
Councilmember Shorett has been placed on the receiving end of financial payouts from other tow companies that have maintained contracts with the City without going through any documented procedures of contract rotation or renewal. Shorett is also being accused of brokering sales with tow companies that are already in contract with the City, guaranteeing them a contract renewal as long as they are compliant with paying out. These agreements are not properly registered or inspected as required by law, proving Shorett does not have the City’s best interest at heart.
What I want with this lawsuit is for the City of San Bernardino to act professionally and ethically with the business community, to do things right; and for all of us to be treated fairly because we are talking about public contracts. I’m not going to participate in any pay to play game. I’m not going to do something illegal, and sleep with one eye open.-Manny Acosta, Owner of Pepe’s Towing
In addition to the estimated millions Pepe’s Towing has lost due to not being able to obtain a city contract, Manny is also fighting to be reimbursed for his legal expenses which have continued to grow over the last two years. Mr. Acosta has appointed the powerhouse legal team with the Law Offices of Pelayes & Yu who have submitted a Public Records Act request to obtain records relating to tow company applications, inspections, and related documents. The City’s open bid process and evaluation of tow company contracts were proposed and discussed between Mr. Acosta and City Officials more than ten times. During these meetings, inadequacies, unfair practices, and lack of compliance were identified, including violations of state ordinances and state and federal environmental laws.
Evidence and testimony reveal that tow company inspections by the City and Police Department were either missing, incomplete, or falsified – yet Council Member Shorett continued to advocate, defend, and negotiate the illegal contracts.