One minute, Monterey County water chief Curtis Weeks was a potential whistle-blower and the next he walked away with a $100,000 severance check and a promise to stay silent on the failed regional desalination project.

Salinas defense attorney Michael Lawrence confirmed he briefly researched the possibility of Weeks invoking whistle-blower status in the defense of his former friend and colleague Steve Collins. That was in June 2011, shortly after Collins hired Lawrence to defend him against impending criminal conflict-of-interest charges connected to Collins' work as a consultant on the desalination project while he sat on the Monterey County Water Resources Agency board.

In a June 30, 2011 email to Collins obtained by The Herald, Lawrence states that he emailed a memorandum on protections under the whistle-blower statute to Monterey defense attorney Larry Biegel, who was representing Weeks in the probe by the Monterey County District Attorney's Office.