The County District Attorney’s Special Prosecution Division Public Integrity Unit has filed a civil lawsuit against Grace Environmental Services and Charles Grace following a one-year joint investigation with the Fair Political Practices Commission.
The civil complaint alleges that Grace Environmental Services and its owner Charles Grace violated various state laws while providing all of the day-to-day management, operation, and services for the San Simeon Community Services District (SSCSD) since 2014. The civil lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, which is a court order to stop the violations, and civil penalties concerning alleged violations of the State’s Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law. “Unfair competition” includes any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practice.
The lawsuit lists nine causes of action addressing several issues of unfair competition including allegations that Grace and Grace Environmental Services sent threatening letters to a District resident, sought to mislead the SSCSD Board concerning the investigation of potential conflict-of-interest violations at the District, and engaged in accounting practices that unfairly interpreted contractual provisions and financially benefitted Grace Environmental Services. It is important to note that a civil complaint contains allegations that must be proven in a court of law by sufficient evidence.
During the period of investigation beginning in October of 2020, attorneys for Charles Grace represented that he is not currently serving as District General Manager nor has he ever served as District General Manager. Further, his attorneys represented that the SSCSD Board has never voted to appoint Charles Grace as General Manager. Only if Charles Grace employment status is established as a public employee rather than as a contractor can the SSCSD Board move to a closed session for the purpose of a performance evaluation.