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Monday, September 28, 2009

Lying to the DFI

Over the past week, Priority One Credit Union's President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., has suddenly become more lackadaisical and has spent more and more time strolling through the main branch in South Pasadena, California, piddling time that should be dedicated to working and talking loudly on his cellular to what are apparently family and friends. One would think by his conduct that the credit union has made a full financial recovery and is again, operating in the black. 

Donning more relaxed posturing, the President has resumed verbalizing criticisms about some of his staff for what he describes as their failure to increase new membership and failing to exact efforts needed to increase revenue. 

Though its not unreasonable to address areas within the business were immediate improvements are required, it is immensely hypocritical and unproductive for the credit union's highest officer to spend his days traipsing lazily though the main branch criticizing staff members when he has contributed absolutely nothing to improving business and resolving the problems he introduced that are financially taxing the credit union's financial infrastructure. 

Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. continually reminds us that he's no strategist and though his obsessive tendency is to find fault in others and issue demands, its quite clear that he is incapable of living up to his own lofty and judgmental expectations. 

Aside from introducing reductions in spending that have their most profound impact upon the livelihoods of non-exempt personnel who are also the lowest paid sector of employees at the credit union, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. has developed absolutely nothing nothing that will spur the development of new business and increase membership, in great part because he doesn't comprehend marketing and has little understanding about the wants and needs of the culturally diverse marketplaces served by Priority One Credit Union. 

President Wiggington has shown that he is not a participant in delving out solutions to the problems he created. He's just going along for the ride, hoping that someone else is going to do the work needed to resolve the widespread damage he alone created.

Apparently, his only talent is to boast and brag and fabricate stories of non-existent growth and prosperity that he hopes in earnest, people will buy into at face value. 


Since publication of our first post, we've often witnessed the President and members of the Board of Directors and the executive sector, react adversely to our reports. One of his first responses to our reports was to violate state law and order that Monthly Income Statements not be posted at any of the credit union's branches. He succeeded in not posting the statements for March, April and May, but two complaints filed with the DFI by the same member eventually forced the President to resume posting of the monthly financial statements. Of course, if business were thriving as asserted by the President, then there would have been no psychological need for him to hide the statements.

President Wiggington's addiction to lying was again attested to in how he chose to respond to the DFI. The initial letter received from the DFI was responded to by the President who simply denied the allegations and wrote that all of the statements had been posted on each and every month. This was a lie. 

Several weeks later, the President received a second letter from the DFI which reminded him that under state law, he must post the credit union's Monthly Income Statements both, at every branch and in a conspicuous location which allow easy access to the information. 

This time, the President deferred the letter to COO, Beatrice Walker, for response. We understand that at the time, the President was furious and even complained that the DFI "should get off my back." Ms. Walker wasn't discombobulated, but she was nervous because she knew he ordered, in defiance to state law, that the statements not be posted. Furthermore, he was dragging her into a situation he created. Nonetheless, she followed his instructions and composed a response. However, for some inexplicable reason, the credit union was unable to issue its response within the thirty (30) days allotted by the DFI. So, Ms. Walker requested an extension and was provided an additional twenty (20) days in which to submit her written response. 

So why would the credit union require a total of fifty (50) days in which to compose a response to what really was a simple inquiry by the DFI. Wouldn't providing a simple information accompanied by evidence have served to exonerate the credit union of all alleged wrong doing? 

Days before a response was sent to the DFI, President Wiggington conferred with AVP, Rodger Smock, in the South Pasadena employee lounge room and told the AVP that neither of them should be involved in writing a response to the DFI's inquiry and suggested the entire matter be deferred to the COO. So why was the President so adamant that neither he or his number one lackey be involved in formulating a response? 

It's also important to note, that the President refused to post the Monthly Income Statements for March, April and May 2009. Ms. Walker did not start working at the credit union until June 1, 2009. Subsequently, the incident was created by President Wiggington months before Ms. Walker started working at the credit union. So why did he deem it appropriate to defer the DFI's letter to her for response? Since she was not an employee of the credit union when the incident first began, why would she be expected to provide information she had no knowledge of? 


In her letter dated August 11, 2009, Ms. Walker states that the Monthly Financial Statements for "March and perhaps April 2009" had not been posted due to "industry-wide events." 

Her  response is inaccurate and inconsistent with the facts. Statements were not posted for the months of March, April and May 2009.  The April 2009 Monthly Income Statement was never posted, dispelling her statement that "perhaps" that statement was not posted. Furthermore, why did Ms. Walker omit all references to the Monthly Income Statement for the month of May 2009 from her response? 

Unfortunately, when provided with an opportunity to be forthright, Ms. Walker chose what was politically advantageous which in this case was placating the dishonest and law-breaking President. 

And what are the specific "industry-wide events" that prompted the President to order that Monthly Income Statements not be posted? 

In her letter, Ms. Walker states that on March 20, 2009, the NCUA ordered Priority One "write down their ventures" formerly conducted with Wescorp. As many people know, Wescorp entered into a conservatorship earlier this year. According to Ms. Walker, the "ventures" were to be reported to the NCUA by April 23, 2009. So does her response reasonably explain why the President issued a directive in the month of March 2009, ordering that Monthly Income Statements no longer be posted at any branch? Of course, it doesn't.  

The President has now resumed posting of the Monthly Income Statements and in response, the DFI has closed the complaint. Unfortunately, the response was saturated in lies, concocted to present an excuse that the DFI might find reasonable. However, the complaint about the refusal of the President to post Monthly Financial Statements was not the only complaint submitted to the DFI regarding the President's purposeful violation of state law. The following is a copy of of a another complaint filed on June 27, 2009, by another member and proves that the credit union had withheld posting Monthly Income Statements for the months of March, April and May 2009. 

Sent: Sat 6/27/2009 8:37 PM

To: Consumer Account

Subject: Violation of Calif Code of Regulations, Title 10, Chapter 1, Section 30.701(c)

I am a member of Priority One Credit Union and am filing this complaint regarding refusal by Priority One to either post its monthly financials for public view and have refused to post instructions either in a conspicuous or inconspicuous, easily accessible area to members. This has been ongoing since March 2009 and is a violation of California Code of Regulations, Title 10, Chapter 1, Section 30.701(c). Thank you.

The complaint places a crimp in Ms. Walker's story. The member's complaint is dated June 27, 2009, indicating that Monthly Income Statement had not yet been posted on the date the complaint was filed. 

Ms Walker's response serves as evidence she lied. She states that March's statement had not been posted and "perhaps" the statement for April though the member's complaint, which was filed on June 27, 2009, clearly proves the April and May statements had not been posted.  

Ms. Walker's August 2009 response is also inconsistent with information provided by the President to the DFI on July 1, 2009. The information provided to the DFI by the President is shown, below:

From: Consumer Account Consumer@DFI.CA.GOV

Subject: RE: Violation of Calif Code of Regulations, Title 10, Chapter 1, Section 30.701(c)

Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 12:15 AM

The CEO of the Credit Union was contacted, and he stated that the statements are posted at each branch office. He did mention that there was a problem at their Valencia office recently where the current statements had not been posted and what was posted was stale dated. He indicated that this was corrected and the manager of that location was informed that the financials were to be posted as soon as they were received. He also stated that you may request copies of past financial statements, if you like.

If you would like to file a complaint against the Credit Union, please let us know.

Thank you,

Consumer Services Office
California Department of Financial Institutions

So in response to DFI inquiries, the President and his cronies provided the following three different excuses, all which are inconsistent with one another:
  • The Monthly Income Statements were posted at all branches

  • The March 2009 Monthly Income Statement was not posted and perhaps, neither was April's statement; and 

  • Due to some unexplained problem, the Monthly Income Statements were not posted at the Valencia branch though these were posted at all other branches. 
What's more, members calling the credit union during the months of March, April and May were told by employees answering the phones that President Wiggington had not issued Monthly Income Statements to any of the branches further dispelling that it was only the Valencia branch that did not post the statements.  

Additionally, in his July 1, 2009, statement to the DFI, President Wiggington states that the statements for the months of March, April and May were not posted at the Valencia branch but had been posted at all other branches. This seems peculiar, because in her August 11, 2009, letter to the DFI, Ms. Walker states that the March statement was not posted at any branch and perhaps, also not posted during the month of April 2009. 

So what version of the credit union's excuses do you find most believable? 


We recently received an email advising us that a Branch Manager of the credit union has recently denied that four (4) employees were laid-off by the credit union. It's incredible that the Branch Manager could be so misinformed or has chosen to intentionally distort the truth which would not be unusual at Priority One. 

In August, all employees were asked to voluntarily reduce the amount of days worked each month. By voluntarily agreeing to reduce the amount of hours they work, employees would help the credit union save money. The credit union's plan to reduce spending did not ask any executive to voluntarily and temporarily, agree to to a reduction in salary. 

Several employees agreed to work less hours without pay and were thanked by the President during the September 8, 2009 all-staff quarterly meeting conducted at the South Pasadena branch. 

However, the President and COO, later determined that reduced working hours will not have the necessary financial impact needed to substantially reduce spending and so on Monday, September 14, 2009, four (4) employees were laid-off. On September 15, 2009, notice of the terminations was posted by Beatrice Walker on the credit union's Intranet. According to Ms. Walker, the terminations were part of an aggressive effort to reduce spending. 

Hopefully, this information will help clarify the Branch Manager's apparent confusion. 

As we've said in a prior post, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., may not be an adept liar but he is a liar. With regards to the complaints filed with the DFI, he had absolutely no qualms about 
fabricating lies but his excuses were inconsistent with one another and inconsistent with the story concocted by COO, Beatrice Walker. You'd think that these two have conferred with one another before providing the DFI with different versions of what supposedly happened with the Monthly Income Statements for the months of March, April and May 2009. 

There is no argument that Charles R. Wiggington,Sr. is the cause of Priority One's financial problems. He single handedly created the dynamic of loss which has left the credit union floundering in the RED.  And though he'll never admit that he is the cause of the credit union's problems, on some level he is aware of his culpability, otherwise why find it necessary to lie, to find scapegoats to blame for his blunders, and why make daily treks through the main branch, insisting to employees that business is great? Clearly, as attested to by the credit union's own Monthly Income Statements, business isn't great- it's awful. Never has Priority One sustained this amount of losses at any time since it's founding in 1926? 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reaping What You Sow

There is no better testament (and believe us, there are many) of Priority One Credit Union's President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. failures than the termination of four employees during the past three weeks.The four employees who were laid-off, were terminated to cut spending. 

In January, we warned that the credit union's future looks bleak. President Wiggington's efforts to achieve financial recuperation have come in the form of expense reductions- reductions that impact the financial livelihoods of non-exempt personnel. 

At the end of 2008, Priority One ended the year embedded in the RED. And though the amount of negative Net Income is decreasing, the credit union remains mired in the negative. Evidently, whatever remedial measures are being introduced by the President are insufficient to slow down Priority One's decline and so the chronically inept President has now resorted to desperate measures that are obviously designed to slow and possibly reverse, Priority One's downward momentum.

The credit union's executive and managerial sector has remained quiet, never breaching the subject of the terminations or expressing the slightest regret. Last week, an employee sent us the following message about the terminations:

"This morning there was a message on [the] intranet from Bea [Walker]. It said 5 employees were let go. We are all scared and a lot of us don't know if we are going to have a job next week. Two thing[s] bother me. One is that at the meeting they told us things were improving and nothing was even hinted about a lay off. The other is that Wiggington walked around all day with a big smile on his face. He didn't care about what happened. What's worse is he is the reason they did this. He can't blame the economy because he played in 07 and 08 and even in 09. He never made a plan for bad times and wasted time and money rather than doing what he's paid to do. Its scary."

It's only "scary" if you're not a manager or on the President's list of preferred staff. His constant verbal assurances that business is good is, as we've reported often, a lie undermined by the credit union's Monthly Financial Statements and quarterly Financial Performance Reports. However, not to side with the President, a few weeks ago he mentioned that delinquencies had risen and Net Capital had decline, two pivotal factors used to assess the credit union's actual versus alleged performance. But he has been dishonest enough to deter attention away from the credit union's actual financial state. When meandering through the credit union, he often stops at the desks of supervisors and/or their staffs and loudly declares "business is improving." Superficially, he is sending mixed message completely inconsistent with one another. But the often dull President knows that he can't be held accountable for verbal assurances that claim business is well.

The reason he may have smiled after the memorandum was issued because its evident that he must have been ordered to immediately reduce spending in what has become a frantic effort to raise Net Capital. We also know that auditors visiting the credit union reminded him that the credit union could be taken over by the NCUA if if Net Capital dips to 6%.

However, for those who may not know, one reason why Beatrice Walker was hired was to introduce new streams of income and reduce spending. Shortly after she was hired, the President disclosed that she had the task of identifying what positions in the credit union could be phased out and what employees, terminated. Her assignment was delegated by the Board of Directors who are frantic to reduce spending and want "rebel employees" as they've been labeled by Ms. Walker, identified and terminated. 

And though Priority One's executives don't hold a patent on hypocrisy, it would be remiss of us not to point out the hypocritical acts and statements made by the credit union's highest echelon.  
  • Though Ms. Walker is credited with the recent termination of four employees for the purpose of reducing spending, the credit union built a new Training Room a few months ago and is now planning construction of a Call Center. Evidently, reductions in spending are being offset by uncontrolled spending. The President's 2007 mailing fiasco cost the credit union $100,000 to resolve. The President's 2007 refusal to resolve the technical issues affecting the conversion of Inland Counties Credit Union's member records into Priority One's database also cost $100,000 to resolve. 
  • You can add his 2008 purchase of a $600,000 phone system that has been jarred by unceasing technical problems and the addition of hundreds of dollars being spent each month for the services of telephone technicians who visit the credit union to try and resolve the newest slew of issues impacting the system. 
  • There is also the monies spent on a 2008 investigation to determine if the President had sexually harassed a former employee. As reported here often, the investigation proved he sexually harassed the employee but Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, led a small contingent of all-Black officers to vote for his reinstatement. 
  • In 2008, the President borrowed $20 million from the credit union's line-of-credit forcing the credit union to pay more than $30,000 each month, in interest alone against the principle. 

While traversing the Internet, we discovered several posts regarding the 2007 mailing fiasco which occurred when ballots were mailed to members in envelopes on whose exterior were printed member account and social security numbers. The completely avoidable debacle proved a public relations nightmares, provoking a large number of employees to call and write to the President, expressing their dissatisfaction over the breach, but President Wiggington chose not to respond to the concerns, He instead, handed a stock of letters and print-out containing member names and phone numbers and ordered a business development representative to contact every person who either called or wrote to the credit union concerning the breach.  

When the Board learned about the breach, they demanded that the President terminate the person to caused the error. That person would have been the President, himself, a fact he never admitted to. Instead, he found a victim in the then IT Supervisor who had gathered the information that was sent to the publisher who had been hired to print and mail the ballots. He convinced the ignorant Board that instead of firing the IT Supervisor, that they allow him to be suspended for three days without pay. The Board who never initiated an investigation but who relied entirely on what they were told by the President, agreed to suspend the IT Supervisor

Fun fact. When accused of sexually harassing a former employee, which by the way is a federal offense, the Board suspended the President with pay. 

The President denies all involvement in the breach, however, we spoke to the IT Supervisor, prior to his resignation, who provided us with the following account:

The 2007 Mailing Fiasco

"As you know, I was just promoted to IT Supervisor. Before I was promoted, Rose used to create the discs containing member information that was sent to the printing company so they could create the ballots and letter that they mailed to members.

Charles [Wiggington] asked me to download member information for only active members in good standing on to a disc and that I send this to the printing company. Because I was never involved in doing this, I took the disc with all the information to the President and asked if he could review the contents to make sure the information that was being sent to the printer was correct. He told me, "I don't have to check it, just send it to the printer." So the disc was sent which to the printing company. I was told by people who used to be involved in this project that the printing company would provide a sample batch of ballots that we could check to see if there were any errors.

When the batch arrived [at the South Pasadena branch] it was delivered to Charles but he refused to check it because he's the President and that's not his job. He said, "Just mail it." 

After the breach came out to the open, Charles came to me and told me that Board decided I was at fault for the mailing and that they told him to fire me but he interceded and convinced them I should only be suspended. It was't my fault. I took it to Charles to check. I just don't know why the Board thinks I'm at fault."

We of course informed the then IT Supervisor that the Board never conducted an investigation which led them to conclude that it was the IT Supervisor who caused the breach of security. The Directors are just not that motivated or bright. It was President Wiggington who told them the IT Supervisor was at fault never disclosing that it was he, alone, who breached security. At stake, was the President's employment and he wasn't about to exercise courage and admit what he'd done. Furthermore, he had just escaped being held accountable when an investigation revealed that his hand-picked AVP, Liz Campos, had violated federal law when she knowingly kited. 


From: Ron Simmons (ron.simmons
Date: Wed May 30 2007 - 10:36:13 CDT
Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:15 PM PT Posted by Steve Bass

“I'm watching my credit union account like a hawk. That's because Priority One Credit Union -- the one I use -- had a security breach that was stunning. They recently sent election ballots to members. Printed on the outside of the envelope were some numbers. The first was our account number. That might not have been enough to help with anyone intent on identity theft, so they also printed my social security number on the envelope. I received a letter of apology the other day. They told me they deeply regretted the inconvenience.”


Mr. Simmons post also provides the following excerpt of the letter issued by President Wiggington and intended to placate members:

Dear Members:

During the last week, we mailed our election ballots to members. Unfortunately, an error occurred during the distribution of this ballot, and personal information was inadvertently included above your address on the envelope. This information was not printed in a format that would be immediately recognizable, and we have no indication your personal information has been accessed or misused in any way.”

Dataloss Mailing List (dataloss

"Unfortunately an error occurred during the distribution of this ballot." Yes, that error was President Wiggington who refused to perform security procedures before the ballots were mailed to members. When asked to check the mailing before it was sent to members, he stated, "I don't do that. I'm the President." His refusal cost the credit union $100,000. 

In trying to lessen the impact of an undeniable breach in security, the President adds, "This information was not printed in a format that wold be immediately recognizable." Whether or not the error was immediately recognizable is certainly not the point, is it? The fact that confidential member information was printed on the exterior of the envelope constitutes a breach of security. And what is the format the President is alluding to but failed to describe? Well, we've seen a few of the envelopes and here is an example of how member social security numbers were formatted:


The omission of hyphens in a social security number is inconsequential because the issue is that member credit union account and social security numbers were printed on the exterior of the envelopes sent to members. 


Please note, the amount of Net (Loss) Income for the month of July 2009, was reported at a negative $87,774.10. Year-to-date income was reported at -$4,003,555.89.

In August 2009, the amount of Net (Loss) Income reported for the month was
-$184,648.82 while the Year-to-Date total is -$4,188,204.71. The financials confirm Net Income continues to decline and financially, Priority One remains well embedded in the negative. Of course, this brings into question the President's frequent verbalizations made over the past three months, asserting business is improving. 

We've edited the lengthy report to show what we believe are the most revealing references affirming the credit union's financial standing. We've also annotated in RED font, those references we deem most important, those we find questionable, and those requiring clarification and in other cases, further investigation. 
















Accounts Payable

Notes Payable
$20,000,000.00 (Amount borrowed in 2008)

Accrued Expenses

Dividends Payable

Suspense Accounts

Regular Reserve

Undivided Income

Total Equity

Total Liabilities and Equity
$180,138,204.75  (minus the $20 million loan borrowed in mid-2008) 


Interest on Loans


Income from Investments


Fees and Charges


Miscellaneous Operating Income


Total Operating Income



Employee Salaries/Bonus

Branch Lease


Security Expenses


Education Expense: Staff


Education Expense: Senior Mgmt


Education: Supervisory Committee


Education: Board of Directors


Training Expense


Advertising Expenses


Loan Promotions


Promotional Items


Member Research


Business Development Expense


Legal Expenses


Consultancy Fees


Associated Management Company


Shared Branching Expense

Provision for Loan Losses


Interest on Borrowed Money

$474,399.25 (Interest paid against $20 million loan borrowed in mid-2008)

Annual Meeting Expenses

$53,722.40 (Why was this amount spent on the annual meeting?)

Board of Directors/Supervisors

General Expenses

Branch Expenses


Other Losses (What specifically are the other losses?)



Succession/Strategic Planning


Ballot Incident Expense (Why did the President omit the expenses he caused the credit union to incur when he and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks)



Total Operating Expenses


Income (Loss) from Operations



Loss (Gain) on Disp of Investment



During the May 2009 annual meeting, President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. said he had begun reducing spending; was in the process of "streamlining"; and was in his words, "working smarter." As part of his agenda allegedly designed to eventually reverse losses, the President implemented a company-wide wage freeze. Recently, COO, Beatrice Walker, targeted four employees who were terminated because according the President, their positions had been determined to be unnecessary to the credit union's operation. In spite of his alleged efforts, losses increased during the month of August 2009. 

A key problem with Mr. Wiggington's current strategies is they are, like so many of his plans, tactically self-serving  His current agenda intentionally targets the salaries and benefits paid to non-exempt personnel who are also the sector of employee who earn the least. However, the President and his overpaid executive staff have not been affected by any of his so-called cost reducing strategies. In fact, the President's agenda ensures that he continues to be paid more than $150,000 per year and that he and some of his executive staff continue to be the recipients of annual bonuses and raises. President Wiggington has made certain that his strategies to reduce spending have no adverse financial impact upon him and his executive sector. 

The President's efforts are not so much remedial but designed to ensure he lifestyle is in no way inconvenienced and that his salary remain intact, while the salaries of non-exempt personnel remain in a state of suspended animation until he deems it safe to lift the wage freeze. Don't expect President Wiggington to lift the wage freeze to be lifted at anytime soon. 

President Wiggington's strategies which are allegedly intended to offset spending and decrease losses, is nothing more than survival of the fittest. He has made certain that he will remain unaffected while the credit union struggles to regain its former secure financial footing and ignoring the fact that the credit union cycle of losses were caused entirely by his horrendous business decisions and abhorrent personal behaviors. 

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