Sunday, December 08, 2013

60th Anniversary Entertainment Supplier Named In Ponzi Scheme

A tip of the hat to a loyal and alert reader who connected the dots and brought to my attention this weekend an article published behind the Orange County Register's paywall Friday, December 6th, indicating that Roland Barerra - Costa Mesa club owner and supplier of entertainment for the Costa Mesa 60th Anniversary celebration - was named in a civil suit accusing him of being part of a Ponzi scheme.

The article by Eric Hartley, HERE, for those who subscribe, states that Barerra, shown in this photo from The SUN Group website, was among several other people who recruited investors for a scheme involving oil and gas investments.  If you can't reach the Register article you can read this story on the official U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) site, HERE.

For a little more information on Bacerra's local company, The SUN Group, LLC, read an article from the OC Weekly from September, 2010, HERE, and from its website, HERE.

According to information about the 60th Anniversary Celebration Committee meeting minutes available from the City of Costa Mesa web site, HERE, HERE and HERE, Dan Joyce - Community Affairs Manager, currently on Administrative Leave - introduced Barerra as the supplier of entertainment for the planned gala.  The official web site for the 60th Anniversary Celebration, HERE, also identifies The SUN Group as such.

A quick search of recent Warrants - lists of items paid by the city that are typically approved as part of the Consent Calendar during City Council meetings, revealed that The SUN Group, LLC was paid more than $62,000 from May until August:

Warrant 2473, 5/21/13, HERE - $2,000
Warrant 2476, 6/18/13, HERE - $13,550 (2 items)
Warrant 2478, 7/2/13, HERE - $5125 (3 items)
Warrant 2479, 7/2/13, HERE - $39,476.40 (2 items)
Warrant 2482, 8/6/13, HERE - $1,900


The finances of the 60th Anniversary Celebration are under investigation and Joyce, along with his assistant, Christine Cordon, were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of that investigation.  Men with official-looking garb were observed hauling boxes of materials and computers from the 5th floor City Hall offices occupied by Joyce and Cordon to Police Headquarters  last summer.  Repeated requests by concerned citizens for information regarding the investigation and for copies of bills related to the 60th Celebration have been stone-walled for months, citing the on-going investigation.

I have no idea whether anything is amiss with the arrangements made by Joyce with Barerra and his SUN Group organization, but this latest revelation certainly does raise eyebrows and cast even darker clouds over the scandal swirling around the 60th Anniversary Celebration.

We hope this issue is resolved soon so the taxpayers and voters of Costa Mesa can ascertain where the fault, if any, lies in the letting of no-bid contracts for services during the 60th Anniversary Celebration.  The silence from City Hall only creates more distrust.  As Mayor Jim Righeimer recently protested from the dais on another issue, "the silence is deafening"...  We agree.  To use his words, we are "shocked and appalled" about this issue and hope he will use his influence to accelerate a resolution to it soon.  We're not holding our breath...

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Anonymous Hold em Accountable said...

One brief point today:

Why does everything Riggy touch turn sour?

No wonder Fountain Valley rejected him.

12/08/2013 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

We can now verify that $62,000 was spent on the 60th. What others can we verify? What's the running total up to now?

12/08/2013 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gericault said...

I remember awhile back that Roland Barrera purchased the Bar Avalon on 19th street. Avalon always sold beer and wine. When Roland got it , it went full liquor and I wondered a couple of things. First, was it money from the 60th that bought it?,....and second how did he get a full liquor license at that location when Avalon never could? I wanted answers to my questions of exactly how many payments were made for the entertainment. On many of the warrants there are payments being made not just to Sun entertainment but also to many other entities. In many cases it looks like multiple payments were made for the exact same services.Booking agents have looked at the initial numbers and just like to food and beverage, they said something is terribly wrong.The public records need to be released, the forensic audit should be done by now, what it the hold up? It has been six months.....release the documents. The smell of this has not gone away, Righeimer and Co. are just trying to bury the evidence.

12/08/2013 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Arthur Nern said...

We want to know what role Mrs. Baugh's catering company had in all this, if any.

Do Riggy, Mensy, or Monahan know Barrera? Have they ever done business with him?

12/08/2013 10:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...


And it is rumored (quite reliably) that a firm has been found to clean up the decomposed granite trails for a trifling $14,000 and change. It is not yet clear that the biologist who has been selected to oversee the cleanup is on the approved list, but it is clear that the firm doing the cleanup is a pretty good one.

I'm adding a hundred bucks of my own hard-earned cash to the $500 reward being offered for identification of the perpetrator. Anybody care to join me?

12/08/2013 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Muffin Top Bob said...

I wonder if the Costa Mesa Taxpayers Association would be willing to help add to the reward, they were quick to pony up a cash reward for the campaign sign destruction incident.

12/08/2013 07:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Terry Koken said...

Geoff --
Gericault makes an interesting connection here. The license was issued on 27 August, two months after the 60th anniversary; transferred from Ramos and Wong, of Bistro D Asia in Mission Viejo. Ramos is a familiar name; I wonder if Jorge Rafael and Lee have any degree of consanguinity. It's a fairly common name, but the latter is running for city council, where name recognition is important.

I'm still in the dark about what the 60th anniversary irregularity was, why it was noticed, when it occurred, all that. I was busy at the time of the celebration, giving away a daughter in marriage in Florida. Gericault, can you enlighten us as to who the booking agents are, and what they said? And specifically, what initial numbers were they examining, and where might they be found for a leisurely perusal in depth? "Terribly wrong" says both much and little at the same time.

And will you guys stop screaming and jumping on the bandwagon to join me about the extra hundred bucks' reward? I only expected we'd have boosted it to a grand by now, instead of as high as it has gone...

12/08/2013 08:42:00 PM  

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