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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. Arrives

A Change in Leadership

On December 31, 2006, Priority One Credit Union's long time President and CEO, William E. Harris, retired. Mr. Harris who had established a reputation for being, quiet, dignified and prudent, had during his career, cautiously orchestrated mergers, escalated promotion of the credit union's name, product and services, and transformed the credit union into a member-centric organization. 

President Harris also implemented a Marketing Department who continuously monitored the credit union's diverse marketplaces and through focus groups, surveys and other studies, kept abreast of changes in the marketplace through which it obtained an understanding of what members most wanted and needed. It was a golden age for the thriving credit union.

The Marketing Department also garnered numerous annual industry awards for its innovative and imaginative promotions, the development of products and services, and its cutting edge marketing. 

Mr. Harris also established an open-door policy, inviting members to write or call and responding within 24-hours after receiving their inquiries or concerns. He also maintained the same open door policy for employees, vendors, and representatives of other credit unions. 

As a former employee of the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), Mr. Harris possessed a deep understanding of the postal service culture, enabling the development of strong ties with employees of  the USPS. 

Mr. Harris was cautious in business, never dictated by his emotions. He considered whether any transaction was ultimately good or detrimental to the credit union, its members and its employees. Under his leadership, Net Income increased, territories expanded, and membership grew. 

He also developed policies that protected member assets and that served to define the credit union's internal policies and procedures. 

His plans succeeded in facilitating product and service deliveries and through the introduction of improved technologies, simplified the personal banking experience for all members. Under Mr. Harris, Priority One experienced a Golden Age, pointing to a promising future. That would all change after Mr. Harris retired. 


On January 1, 2007, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., as he demands to be addressed, became Priority One's new President and CEO. Unlike all his predecessors, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is callous, vulgar, brash, obnoxious and extremely verbose. 

He is undisciplined, expending tremendous energy in self-promotion, boasting about his high intellect, the fact he earned a B.A while attending California State University in Northridge, California where he majored in Afro-American studies. 

His failed business decisions, squandering of credit union monies, and self-immersion in embarrassing scandals make him the antithesis of Mr. Harris. President Wiggington's greatest impediment to success is himself. 

On January 4, 2007, he spent the day in the company of AVP, Rodger Smock, meeting with groups of employees, boasting about the changes he would introduce that would push the credit union into the "22nd century" (his words, not ours)/. 

He handed out flow charts depicting the credit union's new corporate structure and boasted that over the next two years, he intended to upgrade technologies and install a new state-of-the-art phone system. He also said he would reduce account closures by implemented a retention program that would be managed by two employees who would meet with members requesting to close their accounts, and who would find ways of enticing members to stay. 

He also said that a suggestions box would be placed in the credit union lounge room because he was highly interested in hearing what employees had to say. Despite having been warned by the AVP of Lending that there would soon be an adverse change to the real estate market, the President proceeded forward with his plans. It was clear that nothing was about to deter him from realizing his ambitions.  


For years the credit union had diverted most incoming calls to the receptionist located at the main branch in South Pasadena. On January 4, 2007, the President unveiled a new plan which included installation of a new telephone system which would divert all incoming calls to the South Pasadena and Los Angeles branches. The idea was marred and structured for future failure. In January 2007, the credit union had 7 branches. Why didn't President Wiggington order calls disbursed to all 7 branches? 

As time would soon prove, his plan would serve to exacerbate the credit union's service issues and substantially increasing complaints citing deficient member service. 


On January 4, 2007, President Wiggington also announced that he had divided Priority One's vast territories into regions. Each region would have its own Assistant Vice President ("AVP") who would be responsible for overseeing the development of new business. At the time, he admitted this is how his former employer, Bank of America "did business." Did he forget that he was the President of a credit union?

The President promoted managers from the credit union to populate his new AVP sector. With the exception of one AVP, all were people he described as his "friends" and "buddies."
Time would again prove that his choices were people who were wholly unqualified to serve in the capacity of AVP, lacking the education, the experience and the business savvy. 

His new AVP's were the former Branch Managers of the Burbank, Van Nuys and Redlands branches and the Director of Lending. By mid-2008, two AVP's had been terminated. One was found guilty of kiting (a federal offense) and the other was forced out of the credit union following a verbal altercation with the President. 

The AVP who was terminated for kiting was quickly replaced by the Valencia Branch Manager who had also worked with the President when the two were employed by Bank of America. The second AVP was replaced by the Assistant to the Director of Lending. 

The President was also forced by Director, Janice Irving, to promote then Los Angeles Branch Manager, Lynnette Fortson. The President was incensed because Ms. Fortson was one of "Harris' people", the named he dubbed all people who had once been loyal to his predecessor, William E. Harris.

The President's aspirations were never realized due to the incompetence demonstrated by his hand-picked AVP's and by his inability to develop and implement strategical planning that met all designated goals. By 2009, the credit union's relationship to its membership had deteriorated causing a decline in new business. The President's internal decisions and behaviors had also lent a blow to employee morale and by the end of 2008, many long-time employees had fled the credit union. 

Unlike his predecessor, President Wiggington is lackadaisical and has no comprehension of the importance of marketing or member relations. He has proven to lack the ability to realize his numerous promises, reducing his assurances to boasting. 

During any day of the week, you will find the President visiting every department in the South Pasadena branch. Due to his insatiable penchant for gabbing, he will interrupt employees while they work and boast about his 
family, his collection of BMW's, his alleged vast material holdings and about his sexual prowess which apparently, no woman can resist. Did we mention that he's married?  

He is also an adamant critic of his predecessor who he alleges was "always jealous" of him and his plans to transform Priority One into a highly competitive, state-of-the-art credit union. Since being appointed President just two years ago, President Wiggington's only achievement is having established a reputation for notorious behaviors including a proclivity for lying and an indulgence for vindictive and malicious gossiping. 


Since the credit union's founding in 1926, he is also the only President to be accused of sexual harassment. On July 24, 2008, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was placed on paid suspension for approximately 6 weeks during which an investigation was conducted.The investigation was initiated immediately after the employee mailed a letter to the credit union's attorney, William Adler of Styskal, Wiese, & Melchione, LLP. 

At the request of attorney Adler, the Board hired EXTTI, Inc. to conduct an investigation which consisted of interviewing several employees assigned to the South Pasadena and Los Angeles branches. At the end of the investigation, the findings were delivered to Mr. Adler who delivered the findings in person, to the Board of Directors. 

According to Director, Janice Irving, the evidence was sufficient to warrant termination of the President, however, Mrs. Irving was out voted by Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, and Directors, O. Glen Saffold and Thomas Gathers, and Supervisory Committee Chair, Cornelia Simmons. The overwhelming evidence proving Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. sexually harassed a former employee was ignored and even squashed and his employment preserved. During the proceedings to determine his future, it was evident that Diedra Harris-Brooks is not the Board's Chair but rather, its queen. However, Mrs. Harris-Brooks failed in her efforts to exclude Mrs. Irving from participating in the meeting to review the evidence.

Following Mr. Wiggington, Sr.'s reinstatement, Diedra Harris-Brooks mailed a letter to the victimized former employee, admitting the President had acted inappropriately though not having committed acts which the Board understood as sexual harassment as defined under federal law. At the time, Mrs. Harris-Brooks was unaware that the victim had also filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Within a day or two following mailing of Mrs. Harris-Brooks' letter, Priority One received a 10-page document from the U.S. government requesting the credit union's response to the former employee's allegations.

In November 2008, the Board offered the former employee $20,000 to settle the case, though only if the former employee signed an agreement to withdraw her complaint. The former employee refused the Board's offering. In late November, an irked President told Mrs. Harris-Brooks, that he wanted the Board to "pay that woman" adding, "I just want to get rid of her."  What we find puzzling is that in her letter, Mrs. Harris-Brooks declared federal law had not been violated yet a few weeks later, she on behalf of the credit union offered to pay the victim the amount of $20,000 to bring closure to her complaint.

In arguably, Mrs. Harris-Brooks' decision to reinstate the President undermines the safety of employees, the credit union's reputation, and attests to the unethical proclivities of the Board Chair and her allies. The decision by Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. to remain President and CEO attests to his complete lack of scruples and his disregard for what is best or the credit union. If one were to believe the President's excuses why he sexualized his relationship to the former employee, then it is he who is the victim of a group of invisible conspirators who driven by jealously, hope to undermine his authority. Of course, we choose to to look at his behaviors and as the old adage says, "Actions speak louder than words." 

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Anonymous said...

as an ex-employee of Priority One
Credit Union, I can say that Mr Harris was the Best, BEST CEO.

Anonymous said...

I concur.

Anonymous said...

Charles Wigginton ruined a once fine credit union. I miss Mr Harris!

Anonymous said...

It definitely seems as though the writer of this article has nothing better to do than express hate and negativity towards Mr. Wiggington. I am a member of the credit union who respects him and his decisions. This is just so sad... a typical and pathetic attempt to undermine someone who is on a higher level. Mr. Wiggington if you read this, keep doing your thing and remember that there will always be people who try to bring you down. Just keep smiling and stay strong!

Marisol said...

I dont really care about Mr Harris, but his employees are sucks!!! they are holding my title for A PAID CAR as an excuse to get a arragment with a HELOC that is in collection due to my several hardship (I lost my job, and separate with 2 kids and zero child support assistance!!!)
I will do the most until find out if this procedure is completelly legal.

Anonymous said...

You don't care for Mr Harris. Did you mean MR. Wiggington? MR Harris retired in 2006.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous: You are a self-deluded moron. If you are a member, which I doubt, you should care about Priority One as an organization, as an employer and as a credit union but evidently you ego and immense dullness precludes you from understanding that there is a real problem that is impacting the business, employees and impact you, the member. That is of course if you're a member and not a director, a supervisor or one of Wiggington's insidious side-kicks.

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