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Attorney for embattled former water official asks state's top prosecutor to step in

Published On: Mar 05 2014 03:16:39 PM CST
MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. -

The defense attorney for former Monterey County water director Steve Collins is asking the state's Attorney General to take over the prosecution against him.
In a letter written this week to Attorney General Kamala Harris, attorney Daniel Clymo says the Monterey County District Attorney's prosecution of Collins has been tainted by a number of conflicts. The case against Collins centers on whether it posed a conflict of interest for him to work as a consultant on the desalination project while he sat on the board of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.
Clymo contends the District Attorney's Office has a conflict of interest itself, "as it appears to be protecting the Board of Supervisors, who initiated the prosecution, from polttical fallout in a case that has gained substantial publicity in Monterey County," according to the letter. "Not only does the Board of Supervisors control the District Attorney's budget, but the District Attorney's entire office are ex officio members of the water agency."
Last week, a judge ruled that Monterey County, not California American Water, must take the lead in the ongoing civil lawsuit over who will be responsible for the millions of dollars spent on the failed desalination project. Clymo argues that the county has an increased chance of winning the civil case if Collins is convicted of the felony conflict-of-interest charges against him involving the money he was paid by RMC Water and Environment for his work on the desalination project. The proposed desal project was appproved by state officials in late 2010 but ultimately crumbled after Collins' role was revealed.
Collins was a member of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency's Board of Directors for 16 years until his resignation in April 2011.