Jeff Smith noon, March 8
UCAN Directors to be Sued for Alleged Coverup
Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) whistleblowers Charles Langley and David Peffer will unveil this afternoon a Superior Court suit that they will file charging the UCAN board with a coverup of gross financial misdeeds within the organization. I will report precise details of the suit later this afternoon, after a plaintiff press conference.
One donnybrook that actuated the suit was a testy letter exchange between Langley and Bob Ames, the San Diego lawyer who was made chief operating office of the purported utility watchdog in April. Ames wrote to Langley this week demanding that he return all UCAN documents in his possession because they may have to be provided to the U.S. Attorney, which is investigating UCAN's financial operations. Citing California law, Ames told Langley that he couldn't keep any copies of the document. Langley came right back, citing UCAN bylaws showing that the books and records, except those confidential or privileged under the law, must be provided to members, who may copy the records at his/her own expense.
Ames, according to his own bio, has participated in most major San Diego bankruptcies for more than 40 years. His hiring raised eyebrows of employees. As earlier reported, Michael Shames, UCAN's chief executive, told staffers in March of last year that unless they stopped complaining about activities, he would move to dissolve the organization, and the board would do what he wanted. The next month, Ames, the bankruptcy specialist, came aboard. Staffers, including the whistleblowers, suspect that the dissolution has been planned since that March meeting, with Ames as one major facilitator.
The suit will charge that instead of investigating UCAN's top executives for financial impropriety, the board entered into a coverup.