Monday, December 14, 2009

Former San Diego Minutemen attorneys accused of stealing $100,000 from the group

In an effort to collect nearly $100,000 from their settlement payment from Caltrans, the San Diego Minutemen have filed Grand Theft charges with the Carlsbad Police Department against their former attorneys, Kaloogian & Fuselier LLP of Carlsbad.

According to emails from Bob Fuselier to the San Diego Minutemen in November, Caltrans mailed the settlement check for $157,500 to their law firm in late October. The check was made out to the "San Diego Minutemen and its attorneys of record". Fuselier admits he deposited the check without SDMM's endorsement into an undisclosed bank account. He refuses to tell the group where the money is supposedly being held. Fuselier also admits to withdrawing $60,000 for attorneys fees they claim are owed to them in the Caltrans lawsuit case, an amount the group believes is highly inflated.

After more than six weeks, and countless written demands by SDMM for their portion of the settlement money, Kaloogian & Fuselier have still refused to make the payment to the group. From vague emails from their law office to the Minutemen, they apparently have asserted some as-yet undefined lien against the group's money, even though Kaloogian & Fuselier have been paid in full $105,000 for their services on the Caltrans lawsuit, which consisted of a total of one injunction hearing and two depositions in 2008. Caltrans settled the case with SDMM out of court on Aug. 3 to avoid an embarrassing trial for their blatant discrimination against the secure border activists.

Kaloogian and Fuselier have indicated they have no intention of giving SDMM their money.

The criminal complaint filed Nov. 30 by SDMM alleges that former California State Assemblyman, Howard Kaloogian has illegally appropriated and/or stolen approximately $100,000 belonging to the San Diego Minutemen from the non-profit group’s settlement award from Caltrans in late October.

"We feel robbed, betrayed, and violated by attorneys we thought were working for us and our secure borders cause, said Barry Shipley, SDMM's Operations Director. "Up until about 6 weeks ago, we were told by Mr. Kaloogian that we would have a substantial award coming to us from Caltrans to use for our political activism. They lied to us and are withholding funds that rightfully belong to the San Diego Minutemen. Intentionally or not, they are aiding La Raza and the powerful open borders lobby just as another amnesty bill is about to be introduced in Congress".

An investigation by Carlsbad Police detectives in early December confirmed that Kaloogian has no legal right to withhold SDMM’s money, but they are giving Kaloogian a few weeks to get their claim in front of the proper legal authority for resolution, according to Jeff Schwilk, SDMM's founder. "The Detective told me they are holding off giving this case to the DA to see if Kaloogian pursues his alleged claim through proper legal channels. Their actions are inexplicable and outrageous. To our hundreds of dedicated volunteers, this appears to be pure greed by lawyers who had been hoping for a 7-figure settlement with the state, but were unable to get it after they botched the case and missed their discovery deadline in July".

SDMM is a non-profit volunteer group formed in 2005 to demand that the federal government secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws. The group says that they have been counting on these award funds to increase their activism, educate the public, and to help elect good, pro-border security and law enforcement candidates into office.

“We are extremely dismayed that Kaloogian is attempting to pocket the entire Caltrans award plus the $45,000 they were paid prior to the settlement – they have a total of $202, 000,” according to Shipley. “SDMM is pushing the state bar and the justice system to force Kaloogian to release our funds before we must insist on a criminal prosecution against these apparent thieves masquerading as lawyers.”

Kaloogian failed to return any phone calls regarding this case.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

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