Susan Luzzaro 6:32 p.m., March 16
Grand Jury Demands UCAN Financial Records
Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), a prominent watchdog operation, has received a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury. In a document that I have seen, the U.S. Attorney's office wants all records relating to UCAN and a related organization, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRCH); former San Diego political candidate Peter Navarro and his wife Leslie W. Lebon; Death by China Productions LLC, a group set up for making a movie of a book by the same name Navarro co-authored; Dan DiMicco, chief executive of steelmaker Nucor; Patrick McFadden, head of Nucor's public affairs, and Red Rock Partners, which presumably is Red Rock Energy Partners, a fund set up to make energy investments. Some UCAN insiders suspect that the non-profit group lost money investing funds in Red Rock.
My column of August 24, 2011, showed how North Carolina-based Nucor put $1 million into production of the China-bashing movie, but the money went first to UCAN. McFadden explained to me at the time that Navarro wanted the $1 million sent to UCAN, so the company didn't argue.
The grand jury wants financial records, contracts, consulting agreements, invoices, receipts, phone logs, written and electronic correspondence, investment promotional materials, investment statements, and documentary production reports from UCAN. In addition, the U.S. Attorney's office wants records of "all payments to Michael Shames [UCAN's chief executive], including salary and bonuses and travel/expense reimbursements." A previous Reader article showed that Shames was claiming to be a lawyer and filing for intervenor payments from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as an attorney, although he was not a member of the State Bar. He has since rejoined the bar.
The grand jury also requests "All financial reviews or audits performed on UCAN or PRCH books; and identification of all financial institution accounts used by or held for the benefit of UCAN or PRCH."
As stated previously in the Reader, a group of whistleblowers within UCAN has protested conditions there and has been especially concerned about what they suspected to have been financial irregularities.
Pictured: Michael Shames
More like this:
- Shames Forms Own Group; Malcolm of UCAN Questions His Statements — June 26, 2012
- Navarro's Documentary to Debut — March 15, 2012
- UCAN Arguing for Stay of Litigation — March 13, 2012
- Were UCAN Books Audited? Cooked? — March 3, 2012
- Stealth China-Bashing Movie — Aug. 24, 2011