A firm hired to perform high-speed rail outreach in the South Bay Area has suspended the contract of a Gilroy school board trustee facing two separate investigations by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office – including one for allegedly falsifying parts of invoices totaling more than $37,000, the Dispatch has learned.
Francisco Dominguez, owner of DZ Consulting, is accused of billing the firm, Parsons, for community outreach efforts at $120 per hour that some local groups and residents say never happened.
The District Attorney’s public integrity unit is looking into whether Dominguez’s contested invoices constitute attempted grand theft, in addition to investigating claims Dominguez may have embezzled more than $50,000 from the South County Collaborative, Deputy District Attorney John Chase has said.
Parsons informed Dominguez of his suspension in a letter Monday.
“Due to allegations of irregularities in your billings on the Pacheco Pass Corridor HSR project, it is necessary that we suspend your services pending a review,” Parsons Vice President David Leverenz wrote.
A phone call to Dominguez Tuesday morning was not immediately returned.
The Dispatch obtained a copy of the letter Monday night from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which has a $55 million contract with Parsons for outreach, engineering and environmental work related to the project’s San Jose-to-Merced segment.
Dominguez, the sole owner of his Gilroy based consulting business, is a subcontractor who signed an $80,000 contract with Parsons in February to assist with community outreach efforts.
“DZ Consulting shall immediately cease all activities to this project,” Leverenz wrote. “All payments to DZ Consulting will be reviewed. Any pending payments will be withheld during this review period.”
Parsons informed CSHRA officials Monday it had suspended Dominguez’s contract, according to Rail Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall.
Since April, Dominguez has billed Parsons for $37,383, Wall said. She said Parsons released a partial payment to Dominguez last week for $6,279, the total amount the firm has paid Dominguez to date.
From April through July, Dominguez billed Parsons for meetings with groups such as the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and Gilroy Downtown Business Association, but representatives from groups who spoke with the Dispatch said Dominguez never attended meetings or never spoke about high-speed rail.
He also charged Parsons for a dozen “one-to-one” meet-ups with South County residents who told the Dispatch they had no record of such meetings.