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Richard Ravreby, attorney for Katherine Wolf, cannot get financial records from Michael Shames, former head of financially drained watchdog Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN). Wolf was Shames's second wife. The marriage lasted from November 2006 to December 2008. The breakup seemed to be settled until Wolf and Ravreby found that Shames had been taking 10% bonuses from the intervenor fees that he got from his participation in cases before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The bonus money should have been reported as part of the dissolution agreement, says Ravreby, and she is entitled to half of that money. He went to Shames, who said the records are with UCAN. But Kendall Squires, UCAN chairman, said the records were with Shames, according to Ravreby. During a court hearing last month, Shames said he didn't know how much he had earned during the marriage period, and a judge warned him about possible perjury consequences, according to Ravreby and other sources within UCAN. In June, attorney Paul Dostart, who had been hired by the UCAN board, reported that Shames brought in $60,264 from such bonuses in 2008, $101,091 in 2009 and $87,708 in 2010. Ravereby says that if those bonuses relate to work done during the marriage period, Wolf is entitled to her half. I could not reach Shames.

Meanwhile, forensic accountants seized UCAN computers this week. The sleuths were hired by criminal attorney Gene Iredale, who is representing the UCAN board. Reliable sources say Iredale was getting the information to comply with a government request -- almost certainly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is working on the case for the U.S. Attorney, according to numerous sources. UCAN veteran Charles Langley confirmed that FBI agents were in the UCAN office last week.

Earlier, it was reported that UCAN records are missing. Shames claims some were mysteriously dumped on his doorstep, according to UCAN sources. An important inside source said these doorstep records are not important. An extremely knowledgeable source high up in UCAN told me that the missing records include accounts in which the word "Consumers" was changed to "Comsumers." These accounts were larger than $260,000 at one point. Dostart said in June that he could not locate the accounts on UCAN's books. Later, he claimed that the matter was resolved: the accounts had been tied back to UCAN financial records. Now, it is very reliably reported that they are missing. An important unanswered question is WHEN they were discovered missing.

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Comments

engineer Oct. 1, 2012 @ 7:27 p.m.

If his ex-wife is coming after Shames about the bonus payments, then it would appear that he didn't list those payments in his declarations. Since income tax forms are required evidence in a divorce case, and that would be one piece of evidence his spouse would focus on, maybe he didn't declare those bonus payments as income and they didn't show up on his tax forms? That would not be a good thing...

Also, it is very interesting that there are approximately 20 real estate transactions on the County website for Michael Shames...He has a lot of activity in the real estate arena, which is unusual given his situation and association with a non-profit firm.

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2012 @ 7:58 p.m.

I believe Shames paid taxes on that bonus income. However, the evidence strongly suggests that he did not tell the board about them, although he claims he did. Yes, Shames got deeply involved in real estate. The market turned south. I have suspected for some time that he took some losses, as most San Diego real estate speculators did during the period, but I don't know. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2012 @ 8:08 p.m.

UCAN BOARD KEEPS FELLMETH, ADDS TWO OF HIS ASSOCIATES TO SEVEN-PERSON BOARD. The board of Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) met this evening (Oct. 1). Charles Langley, a longtime veteran of UCAN and one of the two whistleblowers, argued that the appointment of University of San Diego attorney David Fellmeth should be rescinded. Among other things, Fellmeth was an attorney for Shames in a recent case. Also, Fellmeth had been a cofounder of UCAN and Shames was a star pupil of his. Fellmeth said Shames had dropped out of the case in question officially in May; for that reason and other technical ones, there was no conflict. However, Fellmeth conceded there was a problem with perception because he has been connected closely with Shames for so long. He said that if he remained on the board he would not vote on matters regarding Shames. One board member moved that Fellmeth be removed, but there was no second, and the motion died.

Earlier in the meeting, the UCAN board appointed one of Fellmeth's former students and a three-decade associate of Fellmeth to the seven-person board. Fellmeth, after remaining on the board, said he had a long list of possible candidates for the UCAN board. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 1, 2012 @ 8:35 p.m.

I have a feeling Shames is in BIG BIG trouble.He just doesn't know it yet-or maybe he does. If it were ME and the FBI is involved I would be worried, bigtime.

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2012 @ 9:07 p.m.

But Shames's lawyer told the judge in family court that the U.S. Attorney's investigation was no big deal. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 2, 2012 @ 1:25 p.m.

Do you know if the US Attorney has issued any "target" letters???????

If you get on of those watch out baby!!!!!!!!

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 1, 2012 @ 8:37 p.m.

During a court hearing last month, Shames said he didn't know how much he had earned during the marriage period, and a judge warned him about possible perjury consequences, according to Ravreby and other sources within UCAN.

When a judge makes this warning you better take it very seriously. That will be the end of his law license of he is caught lying on a material issue.

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2012 @ 9:09 p.m.

As it was related to me, the judge warned Shames of a possible fine. The judge found it hard to swallow that Shames did not know how much he had earned. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 2, 2012 @ 7:08 a.m.

OOPS. Fellmeth's name is Robert (Bob), not David. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Oct. 2, 2012 @ 10:56 p.m.

It looks like Shames is going to receive a slug of money in settlement of a lawsuit filed against a rental car company. If Shames rented the car with UCAN's money while he was on the clock, then it appears that UCAN is entitled to any settlement.

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Don Bauder Oct. 3, 2012 @ 12:05 p.m.

Shames dropped out as a plaintiff the Hertz suit officially in May. At the UCAN meeting Monday evening, Shames's mentor, Bob Fellmeth, who was a lawyer in the suit, said that Shames's presence would have been "a distraction." Whether Shames's dropping out affects what money he receives is something I do not know. As I reported previously, a board member moved to have Fellmeth removed from the board, but there was no second and the matter died. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 3, 2012 @ 12:08 p.m.

SP, as described above, Shames was a plaintiff and Fellmeth a lawyer in a class action against Hertz. But with the investigations into Shames's activities at UCAN, it was decided that Shames would be a "distraction" and he dropped out as a plaintiff. Best, Don Bauder

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