Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes and his lawyers have submitted a writ of action demanding financial compensation for his legal representation and the cessation of interference in his office by the County.
According to Maggie Melo, the attorney representing Fagundes, the request stems from pay for his representation and from the reassignment of his legal secretary to human resources by the Kings County Board of Supervisors.
Melo, however, says the secretary works at the pleasure of the District Attorney and they have no authority to reassign her. She added that the board is expecting Fagundes' office to continue paying the secretary for her work in human resources, while failing to provide the funds for Fagundes to hire a replacement.
“The DA is functioning without a legal secretary — who is the secretary to the DA himself — and so there have been personnel reassignments and money taken out of his budget,” Melo said over the phone, adding, “which is illegal to do.”
Fagundes is at the center of a lawsuit against Kings County. The lawsuit, which was filed on Sep. 8 with the Kings County Superior Court, alleges that Fagundes repeatedly harassed the male plaintiff — the chief investigator with the DA’s office — over the course of two years and that despite complaints, the County failed to act.
According to the lawsuit and the preceding complaint, the trouble began in 2018 when the plaintiff was staying in an apartment next to Fagundes’ home while going through a divorce. During this time, the complaint and lawsuit allege that Fagundes engaged in inappropriate touching with the plaintiff, sent lewd text messages and initiated sexually explicit conversations with him.
The lawsuit also claims that Fagundes retaliated against the plaintiff when the plaintiff moved out of the apartment.
The lawsuit further states the plaintiff has suffered anxiety and panic attacks from his experience, and that a qualified medical examiner for Kings County diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fagundes and Melo have denied these allegations, and said comments and messages made are being taken out of context.
The secretary in question dated the plaintiff who made the initial allegations, according to Melo. Further issues have emerged as the secretary still has herself listed as the secretary for Fagundes on social media as of Friday, and has made derogatory statements about the appearance of Hanford Mayor Francisco Ramirez on Facebook, which Melo said reflects poorly on the District Attorney’s Office, even though she is no longer there.
Another key issue addressed in the writ is the matter of Fagundes’ legal representation.
“So right now, everybody’s represented with one exception — that’s Mr. Fagundes,” Melo said. “And they want the DA to give statements and do things that are normally done in lawsuits without any attorney representing him. They want to be able to represent him, and they claim they don’t have a conflict, but they do.”
A call put out to the County was not returned by deadline Friday.