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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Devoid of Integrity


"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. 
If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters" 
-Alan K. Simpson-

There is sufficient documentation proving that decline of Priority One Credit Union is due to mismanagement. The once growing credit union has become victim of President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr, whose abuses of authority, ineptitude as a leader and avarice have deteriorated the organization's once stable financial foundation. Of course, his abuses and chronic failures could never have occurred without the enablement provided by the Board of Directors and in particular, it's Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks.


In 2007, the President refused to follow security protocols created by his predecessor, William E. Harris, and as a result, ballots were mailed to members in envelopes on whose exterior were printed member account and social security numbers. When the Board demanded the termination of the person who caused the security breach, he blamed the IT Manager who had absolutely no involvement in causing the breach, but Board Chair, Mrs. Harris-Brooks, chose not to investigate further and ordered the suspension of the President's scapegoat. 


In 2008, a former employee wrote to the credit union's attorney, William Adler, and accused the President of having sexually harassed her for a period of several years. Specifically, the President had often asked the employee to come over to where he sat so he could "whip your ass" or "you know you want that ass whipped" or "bring that ass over here so I can whip it." He had also placed his hands on her knees and thighs while she napped in the South Pasadena lounge room. 

An investigation was conducted and evidence gathered. Mrs. Harris-Brooks was contacted by credit union attorney and provided with a date when the investigator would present his findings. Mrs. Harris-Brooks called and invited Supervisory Committee Chair, Cornelia Simmons, and Directors, O. Glen Saffold and Thomas Gathers to the meeting. She intentionally did not invite Directors, Janice Irving and Joe Marchica because it had already been decided by the Board Chair that irrelevant of the gravity of the disclosures, President Wiggington, who had been suspended with pay, would be reinstated. 

Days following the meeting, Mrs. Irving revealed that the evidence proving Charles R. Wiggington., Sr. sexually harassed the former employee was overwhelming. What's more, the investigator recommended the President's termination. 

Mrs. Harris-Brooks insisted that the President's behaviors did not warrant termination, admitting that though highly inappropriate his statements and gestures towards the victim were not sexual harassment as defined under federal law. Mrs. Harris-Brooks' subservient minions agreed and in doing so, proved they are all too easily pliable and morally bankrupt. 

Mrs. Harris-Brooks, Ms. Simmons, Mr. Saffold and Mr. Gathers voted for the President's reinstatement and a few days later, Mrs. Harris-Brooks mailed a letter to the victim informing her that according to her "understanding" the President's acts did not constitute sexual harassment. What's more, the victim had inexplicably coaxed the President into behaving inappropriately, encouraging his abhorrent behaviors. It was a travesty but which which the amoral Mrs. Harris-Brooks perpetrated in spite that the President's unwanted acts did violate federal law.

Unbeknownst to Mrs. Harris-Brooks, the victim had filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing days before the investigator met with the Board. When the credit union was contacted by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Mrs. Harris-Brooks offered $20,000 to settle the complaint even though in her letter she wrote that sexual harassment as defined under federal law, had never occurred. The promptly rejected the offer and the Mrs. Harris-Brooks upped the ante, offering $40,000 to settle the complaint.


Last year, Mrs. Harris-Brooks and President Wiggington disrupted the electoral process, trying to limit the amount of members who would receive notice of the upcoming annual election and the invitation mandated under state law, which invites members to nominate themselves to vie for available seats on the Board of Directors or Supervisory Committee. 

After we exposed their plot, they were forced to conduct a second election. Their conspiracy which damaged the integrity of the credit union's annual election which is supposed to be fair and impartial for Priority One to reprint ballots and letters and spend money having to remail the ballots. 

Last year during the  highly censored annual meeting stated that he was reducing spending, :"streamling" and "working smarter." Are his antics and those of the Board Chair which forced the credit union to spend more money repeating a process that the the two officers purposely tainted and were and arrogant enough to believe their violation of state law would go unnoticed. 

However, Mrs. Harris-Brooks and the President with the help of Director, Bobby Thomas, convinced a postal carrier named Jeffrey Moses Chen that he should submit his nomination to vie for a seat on the Board. They drafted Mr. Chen because former "White" Board Director, David L. Davidson, submitted his nomination to try and win a seat on the Supervisory Committee. When the President received Mr. Davidson's nomination application, he began complaining to employees, to AVP, Rodger Smock, and to Mrs. Harris-Brooks, that he did not want David Davidson serving on any of the credit union's two governing boards. Yes, the man who has caused the credit union's decline and who was proven to be a sexual harasser, decided that he didn't want Mr. Davidson, who is ethical land fair, to win a seat on the Supervisory Committee. We sense more than a little hypocrisy and may we dare say, jealousy. 

Mr. Chen had no idea that Mr. Thomas urged him to submit his nomination in an effort to divert votes that might otherwise be cast for Mr. Davidson. 

What's more, Mrs. Harris-Brooks, President Wiggington, Mr. Thomas, Coo, Beatrice Walker, and Director of Credit Resolutions, Yvonne Boutte, agreed to campaign in favor of Mr. Chen. Their aggressive campaign reached out to members they all know and included ordered credit union employees to vote for Mr. Chen. 

What's more, they campaigned against Janice Irving whose seat on the Board had come up for re-election. Beatrice Walker and Mrs. Boutte visited every department in the South Pasadena branch and told employees not to vote for either Mr. Davidson or Mrs. Irving.

However, Mrs. Harris-Brooks plot was almost sidetracked when Mr. Chen failed to return his completed application. Mrs. Harris-Brooks mailed him a letter, reminding him to return the completed application by the deadline date. Mr. Chen didn't respond. Mrs. Harris-Brooks called Director, Bobby Thomas, and asked that he personally visit and speak to Mr. Chen and ask he return his application even thought the deadline date had passed.  

Mr. Chen was contacted and personally delivered his application to the main branch which was greedily accepted by the President and Mrs. Brooks. The two highest officers knowingly and intentionally violated state law. 


In 2009, President Wiggington violated state law and ordered that the Monthly Income Statements for March, April and May not be posted. At the time, he said he didn't care what the law stated, he didn't want the credit union's financials finding their way to the Internet. 

Last week he told some of his staff that he will not post December 2009's Monthly Financial Statement because in his words, "It's nobody's business." We of course, beg to differ. He is obligated by state law to post the financials in a conspicuous location within all branches where the statements are easily accessible to all members. 

The dishonest President has obviously forgotten that in June 2009, two members filed complaints against the credit union for refusing to post the financials for the months of March, April and May 2009. He was contacted by the DFI and lied, informing them that the statements had been posted and that allegations of wrong doing were wholly untrue.

However, a second complaint was filed and the exasperated President, deferred the DFI's correspondence to COO, Beatrice Walker, for response. Ms. Walker also lied and though she admitted the March 2009 statement had not been posted, she also stated that "perhaps" the April statement had also not been posted. She failed to address the fact the June 2009 had not been posted. 

What Ms. Walker didn't know at the time she mailed her letter to the DFI is that just a few days earlier, the President provided the DFI with a second version of his original story, this time stating that the statements had been posted at all branches, except the Valencia office though he could not explain how that was even possible. 

All the while, Mrs. Harris-Brooks and the other Directors kept quiet, aware that the President was violating state law, but choosing instead, to play dead 


Last year, the credit union conducted an audit of the Los Angeles aka LAPDC branch'es records. The audit which took place over a three-week period discovered that more than $60,000 had been embezzled from member accounts, including IRA's. According to the credit union, the thefts were perpetrated by a former receptionist. The credit union did not discover the thefts on their own, but became aware of these when a member complained that when she visited the credit union to close her IRA, money had been taken which reduced her more than $6,000 account to about $3400.00. 

The receptionist allegedly deposited monies into a bogus checking account and with the assistance of family, withdrew funds from the phony account using an ATM located in Long Beach, California. The theft is a federal offense. The credit union has now reported the former employee to police authorities but we've heard that Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks is reluctant to prosecute because of the adverse attention it could bring to the scandal-ridden credit union. Did we mention  that the thefts are a federal offense? 

Though the credit union has been careful to avoid brining attention to themselves, one has to question the effectiveness of it's security protocols. Is the credit union not monitoring all branches to ensure they are maintaining security controls? And if controls are being maintained, then how did the receptionist perpetrate thefts that were never noticed by the AVP assigned to the Los Angeles office or by the Supervisory Committee who allegedly audit all security controls? And is this yet another example of President Wiggington "working smarter?"


As reported in our last two posts, it's become acutely clear that President Wiggington's authority may have been snipped by the Board of Directors, with more and more of his power transferred to COO, Beatrice Walker. As also reported prevously, the President and COO hardly ever speak to one another. It seems that the honeymoon is over. 

What's more, Ms. Walker has created a clique comprised of Credit Resolutions Director, Yvonne Boutte, and newly appointed Call Center Supervisor, Joseph Garcia. Ms. Walker is becoming as vocal as the talk-addicted President has recently expressed a desire to become the credit union's next COO, According to Mrs. Boutte, Mrs. Walker doesn't think the President is sufficiently polished or knowledgeable to lead the credit union. What's more, she finds his behaviors appalling and embarrassing. We concur. 

In fact, Ms. Walker is becoming more and more immodest, boasting that she possesses the ability to save Priority One. The Board apparently believes her and we've observed that the Board Chair seems smitten by Ms. Walker's promises of forthcoming success. And so the Board has not only ordered the President to not interfere with Ms. Walker's plans but that he fully support all of her enterprises. For a control freak like Charles R. Wiggington. Sr., the orders must come as an emotional blow to his volatile and fragile disposition. 

This of course prompts us to ask, "Why is Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. still employed?" He clearly is a failure and has caused the credit union to lose millions of dollars in net income a little more than a 3-year period. Couple that with the fact he was proven to have sexually harassed a former employee and he also took ownership of an automobile owned by a former member. What is that President Wiggington does nowadays? What exactly is his role at Priority One? In the meantime, he continues to be paid more than $150,000 per year plus bonuses. 


On June 2, 2009, AVP, Rodger Smock posted a notice on the credit union's Intranet, announcing the hiring of COO, Beatrice Walker. Ms. Walker's actual first day of employment was June 1, 2009, and on the day of her arrival, Rodger Smock introduced her to the staff of the South Pasadena's six departments "Beatrice Walker", never alluding to her title. 

In his memorandum, he described her as highly competent and possessing an MBA in business and disclosed that she would be introducing new streams of income that would generate profit and promote growth. Over the next several days, President Wiggington disclosed that Ms. Walker was going to introduce changes that would improve business immediately. No one thought of asking how he defines "immediately." 

In light of the fact that she's only been employed by the credit union for seven (7) months, we certainly didn't expect her to reap immediate results, after all, she has to muddle through the messes created by President Wiggington and try to find a way of resolving the results of his many blunders. However, to date, her biggest contribution was the termination of four employees. We've also learned that she apparently doesn't possess the product knowledge but instead, calls her friends and acquaintances in the industry, looking to obtain ideas of what she could introduce that might produce profit. 

Unfortunately, she's quickly become known as one of the President's henchmen, though lately, she seems to have absorbed some of his power and seems to be doling out orders. In the meantime and as reported in our last two posts, the President has withdrawn and often remains in his office with the door closed. 

Last year, she stood at the podium during one of the credit union's quarterly all-staff meeting and announced she never met Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. prior to her arrival on June 1, 2009. Why would she deem it necessary to mention this? We certainly never reported that they knew one another prior to the date she was hired. 

Her "lie" to attendees of the meeting was exposed when the South Pasadena Branch Manager, the Lead Consumer Loan Teller and an FSR told employee that they had seen Ms. Walker and the President leaving Applebee's restaurant in the city of Alhambra, California, almost one year prior to Ms. Walker's arrival in South Pasadena. Evidently, she lied. The three employees hid behind a parked car as the President and COO walked past them to their respective automobiles, laughing loudly and obviously, being very chummy. 

During another quarterly meeting, she feigned tears and delivered a dramatic though poorly acted performance, decrying rumors that she was involved in the embezzlement of money while serving as a supervisor for Honda Federal Credit Union. Her statement was yet another lie as no such rumors had ever circulated amongst staff at any of the credit union's branches. In fact, after the meeting, employees convened in small groups and asked co-workers if any had ever heard a rumor of Ms. Walker involved in embezzlement. None had. Beatrice Walker's embarrassing performance was the brainchild of President Wiggington who was certain her act would cause people to revolt against this blog. We can't comprehend his reasoning as it makes no sense, then again we think the President is damaged goods. 


One of the first ideas plagiarized by Ms. Walker, was introducing a payday-styled loan which she's christened, Priority Pay and which will be offered initially, to members who obtain payday loans from storefront vendors whose APR's are astoundingly high. 

The idea had the potential of helping those members who habitually obtain payday loans and due to high interest rates, find themselves trapped in a perpetual cycle of debt. At least one would think this would be the motivation of a credit union that touts itself as a financial fitness center. The flaw or snare, at the center of Ms. Walker's product is revealed in the loan's terms.


The new loan allows a first-time applicant to borrow a maximum of $300.00. All applicants will have to also pay a flat fee of $59.00.

Once the initial loan is paid off in it's entirety, the member may apply for higher amounts up to a maximum of $700.00, plus the $59.00 fee. 

According to the COO, this is much more reasonable than borrowing money from a traditional payday lender. 

We decided to verify the statements made by Ms. Walker. Conducting a search of the Internet, we found an immense number of payday lenders who charge exorbitant and unreasonable interest fees. However, not all payday lenders change exorbitant fees. 

We found several who on a loan of $300.00, charge a fee of $40.00, if the loan is paid by its due date. If, for example, a $300.00 is paid on time, then the total charge is $340.00. That is $300.00 for the principle and $40.00 for interest.

On the other hand, if one were to obtain a $300.00 loan from Priority One, the total amount that must be paid on its due date is $359.00. $300.00 for the principle plus the $59.00 fee. That is $19.00 more than is being charged by some payday lenders. 

What's more, the $59.00 fee charged by Priority One is not a one-time charge. The terms clearly reveal that the $59.00 is a monthly membership fee, charged to members whether or not they obtain a loan. So if you obtain a loan and pay it off, expect to be charged another $59.00 in the following month and every month thereafter. 

If traditional storefront payday lenders are considered predatory in nature, then how is Priority One different? The problem we see is the reasons why President Wiggington and the Board of Directors chose to hire a COO. 

In late 2008, President Wiggington was often overheard talking about his plans to hire a COO sometime in the near future. According to his statements, the COO would taken-over projects he was too busy to attend to, would help find ways to generate income, and who would help rid the credit union of enemy employees who he believed were out to usurp his authority. 

Before Ms. Walker's arrival, we published a post about rumors that a COO had been hired though at the time, we had no idea who the officer was. But even before her arrival at the credit union on June 1, 2009, employees heard the President describe new COO as a "hatchet man." Clearly, she isn't a man but her termination of four (4) employees in late 2009, affirm she is a hatchet woman. 

We believe Priority Pay will fail. Based on what we've verified thus far, this is not a member-friendly product and its intent is clearly to generate profit for the credit union by charging members a continual monthly fee of $59.00. Now how does that help members achieve financial fitness? It doesn't.  


In our last post, we reported that in recent weeks, the Board of Directors and the President, AVP, Rodger Smock, and COO, Beatrice Walker, have held meetings at locations outside the credit union during which they've tried to derive solutions to leaks of confidential information.  On a side note, they're meetings are taking place at local eateries located around the city of South Pasadena which means the credit union is having to pay for lunches for all attendees. Is this again, another example of how Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is striving to reduce expenses? 

According to the Director of Credit Resolutions, Yvonne Boutte, Ms. Walker has ordered the addition of even more firewalls which she allegedly said will stop employees from accessing this blog from their company assigned PC's. We don't believe any employee would be so careless as to read this  blog from their assigned PC's. What's more, last year, President Wiggington hired Sepia Consultants to conduct a search of the PC's assigned to employees the President said he knew were reading this blog while at work, sending information to this blog, and writing the posts published on the blog. The search found absolutely no evidence to support the President's absurd suspicions. Sepia Consultants was also paid using credit union funds. 

Here are some facts that we've verified to be true:

  • What we do know is that each day while at work, President Wiggington reads this blog from his PC.

  • The President uses his PC to visit BMW dealership websites.

  • He uses his PC to send personal emails to friends and family. 

  • We know that one former officer used his PC to view pornography. He would share what he'd seen with other officers. 

  • Beatrice Walker has disclosed that she receives messages on her cell phone, via feed burner, each time someone publishes a comment on this blog.  


Before departing the credit union after more than 16-years of employment, CFO, Manny Gaitmaitan revealed that he resigned because the President, the COO, and AVP, Rodger Smock, had ostracized him and had almost ceased speaking to him, all together. The President and COO had also stopped inviting him to participate in meetings that should have included his participation. He did not refrain from expressing his disdain for Beatrice Walker who he described as "bad for Priority One" and revealed that his relationship with the President grew increasingly strained because he refused to alter financials and report profits where no profits had existed and reduce the amount of actual losses. According to Mr. Gaitmaitan, the President was determined to create a sham impression of success where success hadn't occurred.

Mr. Gaitmaitan believed the President's methodologies are contributing to Priority One's ruination and that COO, Beatrice Walker, is actually pushing the credit union into more and more debt by spending monies on projects she alleges will create profit, though she has yet to present reports or studies that serve to substantiate any of her claims.   

Mr. Gaitmaitan's departure was treated with the utmost disrespect by the President, the COO, and AVP, Rodger Smock. Though many of his staff were sad to see him leave, the COO chose not to attend a luncheon conducted by employees. There was no effort made by the credit union's three abherrent officers to maintain some level of decorum. 

Mr. Smock did post a notice on the credit union's Intranet disclosing Mr. Gaitmaitan was leaving at the end of December 2009. The AVP's message was cold and very matter-of-fact and certainly not the type of expression that one might think would be due to an officer who had been an employee of the credit union for more than nineteen years.


During the past seven days, more indiscretions of Priority One's highest officers, surfaced. 

The latest incident to come to light occurred a few years ago at the home of AVP, Rodger Smock, who at the time served in the capacity of Director of Human Resources.  The incident has been verified to be true by employees who attended a light night swim party at Mr. Smock's Echo Park home. 

According to two female employees, Mr. Smock allowed several women swim in his swimming pool while he spent most of his time in his bedroom, entertaining a young male employee of the credit union. 

Every 30 minutes or so, Mr. Smock would reappear and pour alcohol in the glasses of his guests. As the evening progressed, the women become grew inebriated and one took off all her clothes. 

It's hard to believe that this took place of the one person in the company who is allegedly most acquainted with credit union policies and state and federal laws. Based on the statements made by two of his guests, Mr. Smock forgot his role as an officer. He also never considered the danger he was placing the inebriated employees in. And would the credit union have been liable if any of his guests had been injured while driving home. And how did Mr. Smock deem it even slightly appropriate to cavort with a male employee? 

We've learned that when the male employee worked in the South Pasadena branch, he served in the capacity of an FSR in the office's Member Services Department. In those days, Mr. Smock would meet him in the department each morning and in front of employees, adjust the young man's neckties and collar. The behavior apparently made the Branch Manager uncomfortable who confided with some of her staff that the behavior was inappropriate. She was correct. 

At Priority One there aren't only ethical issues permeating the organization's operation but it seems clear that officers have absolutely no comprehension of the responsibility they hold in setting an example to all employees or that it is imperative they abide to all policies and laws. 

There is a serious problem concerning the ability of the credit union's oldest male officers to control their sexual urges. On the night of the pool  party, Mr. Smock didn't commit a youthful indiscretion because at the time he was in his 60's. He discarded his responsibilities as sentinel over credit union policies and his actions could have had legal ramifications upon the organization.

Even before Charles R. Wiggington. Sr. was appointed President, he began perpetrating egregious acts which he kept veiled by former President, William E. Harris. Since his appointment on January 1, 2007, his manipulation of credit union policies and violations of state and federal laws have been willingly joined by the disgraceful Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, and venal AVP, Rodger Smock. 

The three have colluded and victimized employees, vulgarized credit union policy, and defied state laws. Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, has done more than just enable to President's egregious acts, she's structured plots which undermined last year's election, squashed evidence proving Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. sexually harassed a former employee, and abused the perimeter of her state-mandated authority all to ensure that her hold over the credit union remains intact and unchallenged. 

2009 ended mired in the RED. That should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the credit union's Monthly Income Statements or quarterly Financial Performance Reports filed with the NCUA. In spite of what is common knowledge, the aberrant President has again disclosed that he will not post December's Monthly Income Statement. Of course, if another member files a complaint to the DFI, we'll report it in a forthcoming post. 

To be continued........

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