Bob McPhail 6:31 a.m., May 19
John Moores and Peregrine Cronies Agree to "Very Significant" Settlement in Civil Suit, but Victims' Lawyers Battle
John Moores, former chairman of the fraud-suffused Peregrine Systems, along with four former officers and directors, has agreed to what a judge calls a "very significant" settlement in a major civil case, according to papers on file in U.S. District Court. Moores dumped $487 million of his Peregrine stock during the period that the company's books were cooked. The company collapsed in bankruptcy, and several former executives have been criminally convicted of fraud. Moores sold more than $600 million -- almost all he controlled -- during the company's fraud-tainted existence. Victims filed suits in both state and federal courts, and several are now on appeal. Retired U.S. Magistrate Edward Infante, serving as a moderator, has helped hammer out a monetary settlement -- said to be "very significant" -- that will resolve a major portion of the litigation. However, there is a battle between two San Francisco lawyers: Solomon Cera, who represents a group of plaintiffs, and Robert Friese, who was named by the bankruptcy court as the ligitation trustee. This spring, Cera moved to replace Friese with Richard Kipperman, San Diego bankruptcy specialist, who would be named the successor litigation trustee. An appellate court rejected the Kipperman nomination, saying that he was not a party to the litigation. Kipperman's appointment is now on hold. Friese, fighting back, claims that Cera was negotiating settlements without even telling Friese what was going on. Friese says his removal was effectuated without just cause. Meanwhile, Cera has reached a a settlement agreement with three other Peregrine insiders without informing Friese, according to Friese's complaint. There will be a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez Sept. 8 at 10:30 a.m. to hear both sides in the Friese/Cera dispute. Many of the most important documents are still under seal.