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Stuck in the Middle – Roa: ‘I just want to be forthright’

| News | June 1, 2017

Marlon Roa is a man caught in the middle, trying to do what’s right and sometimes feeling frustrated as a result.

“I’m tired,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to do with this.”

This refers to the tale of what documents City Councilmember Bill Miranda had and when he had them. Miranda has said as far back as April 28 that he had the documents that show how much money the 2014 Latino Chamber of Commerce gala made and how much money came with the Latino Chamber when it merged with the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber in January 2015.

On May 25, Roa said that Miranda asked for documentation and Roa found the statement of financial income and expense from July-December 2014, which he then forwarded to Miranda, who approved and sent it back.

“Bill asked me for them. I had to go scrape for them. I had to go look for them. Bill did not have them. I gave (the statement of financial income and expense) to him,” Roa said. “When he (said he) had the documentation, he didn’t have this.”

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But Roa said he isn’t exactly sure when Miranda called him.

“I don’t know what day I gave these to him, but I went searching for them. When he asked, ‘Do you have anything?’ Then I looked and I found those,” Roa said. “Timeframe? I don’t know. I just know that they asked, I looked, I found, I gave. I’ve been looking for anything for a while, when you first talked to me about the gala (the Gazette first asked in March). I didn’t think anything of it. He called me. He asked me, ‘Is there anything that you have?’ I said, ‘Let me look. Let me go in and see if I can find anything.’ I found this (statement of financial income and expense), gave it to him.”

Roa’s documentation, which he said is an estimate, shows the Sept. 19, 2014 gala grossed $34,440 against approximate expenses of $27,504. But Gloria Mercado-Fortine, who co-chaired the gala, provided the Gazette with actual numbers that show she got them in an email from Roa dated Oct. 1, 2014. These numbers show a gross of $36,075 against approximate expenses of $21,232.

Mercado-Fortine said she asked Roa for the numbers because she wanted to ensure the people she got to come to the gala actually paid.

Roa’s documentation shows the Latino Chamber netted $9,034.87 from July-December; Mercado-Fortine’s show the gala made $14,842. Assuming the numbers are correct, there is between $7,000 and $12,100 unaccounted for, because former SCV Chamber president Terri Crain and Roa previously said the Latino Chamber brought between $1,000 and $2,000 when the merger occurred.

Crain, who did not return phone calls, previously said any monies would have been deposited into the SCV Chamber’s general fund; in this case, however, she recalled that money instead was put into membership to help fund the Latino members who were now SCV Chamber members.

The matter could be resolved if there were income tax documents available, but no one took the responsibility of filing Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service, and this is the other side where Roa feels trapped. He knows the IRS forms need to be completed and filed, and he has taken it upon himself to finally do it, but it’s pretty impossible without the documentation.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to see, if I can do it, because I want to make sure, first, that it wasn’t done; (second), where are the documents, because I’m going to need some of those things to go back and do it,” Roa said. “I’m going to need some of these original documents so going back by this (statement of financial income and expense), it’s going to be extremely hard.”

Roa believes the documentation he needs is with the SCV Chamber, but no one can find anything, he said, because when the chamber moved out of its building on Tournament Road, everything got packed up.

“Everything’s in boxes right now. You came from, what was it, 3,000 square (feet) to 1,000 square (feet),” he said. “Sure, they’re maybe somewhere. Where? I don’t think they’re trying to hide anything. They would’ve given it to you. They’re out there doing what they got to do. They just don’t know. They don’t have it.”

Roa said he’s working with current Chamber President and CEO John Musella to find the papers. Musella didn’t return calls, but has said he isn’t taking the time to find the information.

“I have seen no proof for these baseless claims. As such, I have no reason to spend valuable time digging out the evidence to prove otherwise,” Musella previously said in an email.

Meanwhile, Roa continues to struggle to find the numbers. He’s finding it’s tough doing it alone.

“I just want to be forthright. I want to show you guys everything that I have, the copies, ‘cause these are stuff that I just kept and have copies of. I don’t have the originals,” he said. “Whatever you guys ask for, I’ll give you. You ask a question, I’ll give you the answer. Whatever you guys want, I’ll give you.”

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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