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Two Whistleblowers File Lawsuit Against UCAN

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre filed a lawsuit today on behalf of two UCAN whistleblowers, according to KPBS media partner voiceofsandiego.org.

The former employees of San Diego’s most prominent watchdog are suing the group alleging financial mismanagement.

Long-time staffer Charles Langley, who specializes in gasoline price issues, and UCAN's one-time attorney David Peffer allege UCAN executive director Michael Shames failed to have the group’s books audited, did not report tens of thousands of dollars in bonuses on IRS forms and moved hundreds of thousands of dollars for a related party.

Peffer said he and Langley filed the suit to get a first-hand look at the group's books.

"We're bringing this lawsuit to save UCAN," he said. "We want to see where the money went."

Shames said he looks forward to an airing in court.

He said instead of annual audits, he had an accountant review the books each year, which saved UCAN thousands of dollars. He admits that his bonuses were not reported on IRS forms, but said the accountant messed up and called it a harmless mistake. And he says movement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a company called NUCOR was part of a grant for UCAN to help produce a documentary with Death By China Productions.

But questions remain as to why the money was passed through UCAN instead of going directly to Death By China Productions.

In addition to this lawsuit, UCAN is also the target of a FBI investigation into its financial records.

UCAN has represented customers in innumerable cases involving San Diego Gas & Electric.

A copy of the lawsuit is available at voiceofsandiego.org.

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