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Transit Aide to Pay $2,500 Fine in Conflict Case

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A middle manager at the Orange County Transportation Authority has agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for breaking state conflict-of-interest laws by failing to disclose a side business, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office said Tuesday.

Efren Villanueva Medellin, a 23-year county employee, paid the fine and acknowledged his culpability to settle a civil lawsuit that the district attorney filed against him Monday for violating the Political Reform Act of 1994, Deputy Dist. Atty. Matthew Anderson said.

No criminal charges will be sought because Medellin was not found to have intentionally violated the law, Anderson said.

In addition, Anderson said there was no evidence that Medellin used his former position as a maintenance supervisor to enrich his own business, which he ran out of his Garden Grove home. The enterprise, called Medellin Product Services, sold automotive parts to customers, including other transit agencies.

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Nonetheless, Anderson said that Medellin broke the law when in March, 1991, he neglected to mention in financial interest reports required of all public officials that he had started a business the previous year.

While Medellin did list the business in his 1992 report, he neglected to report sources of business income over $10,000 as required by law, Anderson said.

Medellin refused to comment on the settlement.

Marlene Heyser, the OCTA’s director of human resources, said Medellin, 46, earlier this year gave up his home business as part of a separate agreement he made with the transportation authority.

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When OCTA officials first became concerned about potential conflicts involving Medellin’s home business in 1993, he requested reassignment from the maintenance department, where he might influence the purchase of bus parts, Heyser said.

She said that more recently Medellin, who had been moved to the operations area, was again shifted, this time to facilities, where he holds a $62,900-a-year management job and “is not dealing even indirectly with any parts vendors.”

All this was done, she said, “to remove the appearance of conflict of interest and to ensure there would be none. . . . We are very serious about this.”


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