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The Liar's Club


PHONY AS A $10 BILL


There's probably few people that would deny that Priority One Credit Union's President, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., is a man embedded in the superfluous. Over the years, he has spent an inordinate amount of time and credit union funds on hiring consultants who are paid to create facades that hide the effects of his abysmal performance. 

We were reminded of this in early August when a reader of this blog accused us of publishing inaccurate information about the date when President Wiggington was first appointed President and CEO of the then successful and growing credit union. The reader pointed out that many of the President's online biographies, CV's and resumes state that he began his appointment on March 1992 and not January 1, 2007., The latter, is the date we have alluded during the past 6 years. 

A search on the Internet revealed that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. does in fact state he began ins appointment in March 1992 which is clearly inconsistent with the date we've often provided. So did we err? If we did, that's a discrepancy of 15 years. Or has Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. provided inaccurate information about himself?  Its unlikely that President Wiggington would forget the day he became President and certainly, how could he fail to differentiate between 1992 and 2007? 


VISUALCV.COM


As shown below, on VISUALCV.com, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. does indeed state taht he began his appointment in March of 1992.  The date provided by President Wiggington
is incorrect. Actually, the incorrect date constitutes fraud. 


Source: https://www.visualcv.com/charlesrwiggingtonsr

its easy enough to prove that Charles. R. Wiggington, Sr. was not appointed President in 1992. In October 2006, Priority One’s no longer existent Marketing Department sent out the following invitation to employees, vendors, Directors, Supervisors, and associates in the credit union industry. 
As shown above, the invitation was to attend the retirement dinner for then President and CEO, William E. Harris. The  party was held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on the evening of Saturday, November 11, 2006. Yes, the event was conducted in 2006, proving Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. could not have been President on any date prior to January 1, 2007

Amongst the many guests who attended the retirement party on November 11, 2006, were then Vice President of Human Resources, Rodger Smock; and Board Chairperson, Diedra Harris-Brooks. The three not only attended the party but each spoke briefly, providing tributes to then President William E. Harris.  Furthermore, prior to January 1, 2007, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was the Vice President of Operations.
Despite having been present and spoken at the November 2006 retirement party, in 2012, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. embellished his employment history and chose to reference March 1992 as the date he was first appointed President. The image of the above-shown invitation dispels that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. was President of the credit union in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, or 2006.  

One might also have thought that Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, and/or Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, would have taken a moment to remind the dishonest President 
that lying negatively impacts the integrity of member trust in the organization and asked that he remove the fraudulent reference from his biography, but evidently neither was ethically motivated to do so. 

So why would Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. wish to publish an inaccurate record of his employment while at Priority One Credit Union and if he could provide a fraudulent account of his time at Priority One, can we trust any of the information provided about his employment prior to his arrival at the credit union? The only plausible though not rational reason for exaggerating his employment history is to embellish it. But why? Isn't he satisfied with the real record of his employment? 


Historically, President Wiggington has wasted years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to create campaigns that present a fraudulent portrayal of the credit union's real performance. When called to testify in court, can we expect Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. to tell the truth or will he again gush out concoctions intended to escape accountability for failing to enforce security protocols which have resulted in internal thefts committed by now former employees? 

However, if one to gives Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. the benefit of the doubt, then the reference to March 1992, currently found in his biographies, CV's and resumes, might merely be the result of chronic forgetfulness? If so, then this points to a larger, more serious issue. If he suffers from an inability to remember things, could this be the reason why in 2009, a former receptionist of the Los Angeles branch succeeded in embezzling $60,000? 

Could a possible state of forgetfulness also be the reason why in 2010, a married couple withdrew $100,000 from a HELOC checking account that should have been closed months earlier? 

And lastly, could a case of chronic forgetfulness be the reason why during the years of 2010 through 2012, an AVP found an opportunity to allegedly embezzle more than $1 million in cash from the Los Angeles branch's vault? 

The President and Executive Vice President's biographies, CV's and resumes which are strewn about the Internet were the brainchild of consultants hired in mid-2012. At the time, Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, became frantic about repairing the credit union's horrendous public reputation. The consultants performed a generic analysis of the credit union which included mailing questionnaires to past and present employees and members which asked for suggestions on how to improve business. Predictably, there were few responses to the queries.

The assessment of Priority One's internal and external performance led the consultants to conclude that Priority One needed a new, revamped, more colorful webpage. At the time, the President boasted that the new, more user friendly interface would simplify locating information about what the credit union offers and expedite applying for loans. As time would prove, the new webpage had no effect upon improving sales.

The consultants also informed the President and Board Chair that it would benefit the credit union if the President's and Executive Vice President's work histories were published on the Internet. These would serve to show the competency of the credit union's leadership which would in turn elicit confidence in members and potential members. And so, the over-saturation of the work histories was begun and the President, the Executive Vice President, and the Board of Directors awaited for business to improve.

Its important to note that the biographies, CV's and resumes were all reviewed by Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock. Since January 1, 2007, it is Mr. Smock who reviews the President's addresses to members which were once published monthly in the no longer existent newsletters. It is also Mr. Smock who composed and/or reviewed the addresses for nominees and incumbents who vied for one of the seats on the Board of Directors or Supervisory Committee during Priority One's annual election. 

Like the President's exaggerated biography, the Executive Vice President's record of his employment and education contained references that no one at the credit union had heard of prior to 2012. In his biographies, Rodger D. Smock stated he studied business and marketing while attending the University of Cincinnati during the mid-1960's. 

This came as an utter surprise to many employees and to several former officers of the credit union, none of who had ever known he studied either business or marketing. In fact, in the years prior to 2007, he periodically disclosed he studied psychology while at the university. What's more, during depositions conducted in 2013, he affirmed he studied psychology. 

His alleged studies in business and marketing are not attested to by anything he did while overseeing Priority One's marketing committee during the years of 2008 through 2009. During that period he assisted in composing articles for the newsletter and with the help of the credit union's contracted publishing company (versus marketing consultants), he assisted in writing copy and selecting graphics for planned promotions.

His so-called education in marketing seemed limited to advertising which is not synonymous with marketing. Additionally, if he studied marketing in the mid-1960's, then by 2008, when he temporarily took over marketing, Rodger Smock would have been more than a little out-of-touch with current marketing methodologies. He also never achieved success or industry recognition achieved by the Marketing Director who for years, oversaw marketing until January 1, 2007, the date when Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. bludgeoned the marketing department out of existence.

Evidently, the revamped webpage and the President's and Executive Vice President's mass published biographies, CV's and resumes, had absolutely no positive impact upon business and in the end, their efforts amount to just more abuses of credit union resources, all sanctioned by the Board of Directors and its always ignorant Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks.  


This month, we've decided to focus on recent events occurring at Priority One Credit Union, all of which affirm that this is an organization juggling an immense number of problems that are not consigned to litigation. We will resume our reporting on the credit union's numerous lawsuits in next month's post. 

The incidents we are reporting about, all contrast sharply to the concoctions continually gushed forth by President Wiggington which always insist that business is wonderful and growing and that his plans for the credit union are proceeding as planned. As we've often written, if his plans are proceeding according to a plan he forged, then failure must be his ultimate goal. 



INDICATOR OF FAILURE

This past August, long-time employee and Consumer Loan Officer, Georgina Duenas resigned after more than 15 years of employment. Her resignation allowed the credit union to further reduce spending on her salary and medical and retirement benefits, all which contribute to the credit union's efforts to maintain net capital well above the dreaded 6%. 

What makes Ms. Duenas' departure noteworthy are statements she made about the credit union just after submitting her notice of resignation. 

Prior to leaving, she took two weeks of vacation time to go and work with her future employer, just to determine if the work was compatible and apparently, it was. 


Following submission of her notice of resignation, she confided to co-workers that she had grown weary of the credit union which she said offered no career development. She also complained that she had grown tired of working for low wages and working under a five-year freeze, implemented by President Wiggington in mid-2010. At the time, he said the freeze was temporary and would be lifted as soon as business picked up. His alleged short-term fix which is on its 5th year serves as yet more evidence that the credit union's financial standing is faring poorly and that rumors of declining business are evidently true. As of September 2015, their is nothing to indicate the freeze will be lifted at any time in the foreseeable future. 

As a long-time member of both the Consumer and Real Estate Departments, Mrs. Duenas expressed tremendous dissatisfaction with the credit union's current mandates, which requires all employees of the Consumer Loan Department to aggressively try and acquire new business. The problem with the mandate is that members whose loan applications have been approved, refuse to follow through and obtain funding. As we've reported in previous posts, under President Wiggington, sales trump service. The crux of Priority One's inability to acquire new business is directly tied to its public reputation and poor quality member service. Many members whose loans have been approved, eventually go to other Credit Unions to obtain funding they seek. As the old adage says, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink it."

The President's remedies, all enacted in 2010, are now contributing to growing employee dissatisfaction with their employer and undermining the ability to reverse the multitude of problems introduced by Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.., in the years following his appointment to President. The "temporary" wage freeze, his gauge treatment of members, his inability to create marketing strategies, and insipid product offerings are all contributing to the credit union's ongoing decline. Furthermore, to retain net capital above 6%, President Wiggington has caused the credit union to become addictively reliant upon expense reductions as key to its continued survival. 
. . 


LOAN DEVELOPMENT

President Wiggington may have proven to be quite incapable of developing strategies that produce real profit, but what he lacks in imagination and competency is over-compensated with by his adamant need to camouflage the credit union's lagging performance. 

In early 2008, the President and Board became concerned by the radical decline in business. Initially,. the blame was placed on the AVP of Lending who was only reporting to work 2 or 3 hours per day and when at work, performing duties for his second source of employment at Century 21 Realty in Alhambra, California. 

The President and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, decided the credit union would borrow $20 million from it's line-of-credit. The loan would be used to increase the amount of the credit union's net income on paper. The impetus for borrowing the money was again, purely superficial and immensely dishonest.  Over the next two years, the credit union would pay out $30,000 to $33,000 per month, in interest. hardly the type of prudent planning that should be entered into by a credit union that is in dire need of new business and from an organization that touts itself as a financial fitness center. On December 31, 2009, and despite having borrowed $20 million, Priority One ended the year with more than $5 million in losses. This had never occurred under any other of Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.'s predecessors. 

In February 2010, the credit union issued its Income Statement/Balance Sheet which reported profits in excess of $200,000 for the month of January 2010. So how could a credit union that ended 2009 deeply immersed in the RED, generate more than $200,000 in profit during the month of January 2010, which is traditionally the second slowest month of the year? As it turned out, the credit union never generated profit during the month of January. The President and then COO, Beatrice Walker, transferred monies from one of the credit union's general ledgers and applied them to the month of January 2010, all to create the appearance of profit. Later that year, on December 31, 2010, the credit union reported losses in excess of $500,000. 

Earlier this year, the President changed one of the Loan Department's procedures. Under credit union policy, approved loans remain active and eligible for funding for a total of 30-days. After 30-days, they are no longer active and cannot be funded. If a member wishes to fund that loan, a new credit report will be ordered to determine if the member's credit history has undergone any changes. The procedure is designed to protect the credit union and it also protects a member who might not be able to afford obtaining a loan. 

The new procedures allows an approved loan to remain actively in the credit union's database even after the 30-day period has expired. The only reason the President would implement this change is to create the impression that Priority One is doing brisk business and has lots of approved loans on file. As Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. has proven time and time again, he is not a man daunted by reasonableness of policies or laws.  

Of course, this current violation of loan policy is but one in a long list of abuses perpetrated by the adversarial President. For years, he boasted that Priority One's membership approximated 30,000 members but as we reported in our last post, earlier this year, Employee Services Director, Robert West, authored an article for HigherUp in which he stated that the credit union's membership approximates 26,000 members.  Like the reference in his employment history, President Wiggington is again exaggerating the truth. We have to point out that at the time he was appointed President, membership approximated 32,000 which means that over the past 8 years, Priority One has lost approximately 8,000 members. Inarguably, this is another indicator to failure. 

ANOTHER WIGGINGTON  KNOCK-OFF

As we reported a few weeks ago, Priority One's sole Business Development Representative, Joseph Garcia, resigned and left the credit union for new employment. Before leaving, Mr. Garcia composed a farewell message of sorts, bidding employees adieu, however, recent disclosures originating from the South Pasadena office reveal that Mr. Garcia's departure may not have been either amicable or voluntary.  

Mr. Garcia's stay while at Priority One was both peculiar and initially, propelled by favoritism. In 2010, he was transferred to the South Pasadena branch using the pretext that he was to serve as interim Call Center Supervisor until a permanent supervisor was hired. Less than three weeks later, Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, posted a message on the Intranet announcing that Mr. Garcia had been selected to be the new permanent Call Center Supervisor. Over the next three months, his patron, COO, Beatrice Walker, would promote him to the post of Credit Manager, and Real Estate and Consumer Loan Department Manager. He held all the titles to his different positions for just a few months before these were gradually but consistently transferred to other people. 

Due to his inability to learn procedures, by June 2010, he was stripped of his titles of Credit Manager and Real Estate Loan Department manager. By November 2010, his former alliance with COO, Beatrice Walker, had deteriorated and the two stopped speaking to one another. 

In January 2011, he was stripped of his title of Consumer Loan Department Manager and instead, assigned to oversee the Member Services Department. He held the position for a few weeks before being returned to the Consumer Loan Department but a few weeks later, with the help of a Branch Manager, he left the credit union on a medical leave of absence, alleging work-related stress. 

In July 2011, COO, Beatrice Walker was fired and Mr. Garcia returned to work just a few weeks later. However, upon his return, he was told he was being demoted to the post of Assistant Loan Manager and would have to report to the newly hired Chief Lending Officer, Cindy Garvin. 

However, Mr. Garcia entered into an aggressive self-promotion campaign, wooing President Wiggington and easily convincing him that if he was given authority over business development he could not only force employees to bring in large amounts of new business but he would target and remove anyone he viewed an enemy to President Wiggington's authority. The President ignored Mr. Garcia's well-documented record of failures and promoted Mr. Garcia to AVP of Sales and Business Development. 

Mr. Garcia and Ms. Garvin assigned every employee monthly sales quotas that they must meet or be suspended or terminated. In 2012, the two entered into an aggressive campaign to cajole employees to meet their quotas but their campaign spawned widespread cheating amongst many employees who falsified their sales quotas. Employees who didn't cheat but who couldn't meet their quotas, were issued written warnings. Employees who were unable to achieve their assigned quotas for a consecutive two month period were promptly terminated. The strong-arm tactics implemented by Mr. Garcia failed to increase sales and increased employee dissension. In late October 2011, Mr. Garcia fled the credit union on a second medical leave of absence.   

Mr. Garcia returned to work on January 15, 2013, and was promptly informed that he was being demoted and would from hereon serve as the credit union's sole business development representative. Unfortunately, as in all his prior positions, he was never able to attain his assigned $150,000 monthly quota but despite his history of failures, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. chose to retain him on payroll with full benefits. 

Unfortunately, during his time as Business Development Representative he could never attain his monthly sales quote of $150,000. Despite his history of failures, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. chose to retain Mr. Garcia on payroll. 

And so Mr. Garcia remained on payroll though never able to fulfill his responsibilities in a satisfactory manner. Approximately, two months ago, the President contacted one of the credit union's SEG's and asked if they were pleased with Mr. Garcia's services. The President was informed that Mr. Garcia had never visited the company. A review of Mr. Garcia's monthly reports revealed that he had reported visiting the company. The President ordered Mr. Garcia's termination. 

As we've reported for years, members had complained for years, alleging Mr. Garcia never returned their calls, never advised them of the determination regarding their requests for loans and would not keep appointments. Despite the numerous complaints, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, found it prudent to retain Mr. Garcia. The fact that they chose to retain Mr. Garcia on payroll is a contradiction of the President's chronic insistence that spending must be streamlined. 

We have one question. How could Mr. Garcia be terminated for violating credit union policy when he falsified his monthly reports and President Wiggington retain his employment after a long and well-documented history of violating policies and breaking state and federal laws?.  

THE RETURN OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, 
BUT IS IT TOO LATE?

The departure of Joseph Garcia has left the credit union without any business development representatives to visit the communities served by the credit union. Of course, in view of the fact that Mr. Garcia was rarely or not visiting all together, the communities served by the credit union, his departure is inconsequential to business. And though Priority One's territories extend south into all of Riverside County and north into the Santa Clarita Valley, the fact is, Priority One has been financially unable to send representatives into those territories or to maintain a presence in most of the regions it serves.  

In 2010, COO, Beatrice Walker often boasted to Branch Managers that she possessed the ability to bring in more business than the entire business development team combined. At the time, the team consisted of 5 full-time employees. 

Ms. Walker easily convinced the pliable Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, that the business development team was overpaid and ineffective. She also convinced Mrs. Harris-Brooks that if allowed to implement changes without interference of either President Wiggington or Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, she could easily resolve the credit union's business development and service issues. Upon receiving permission from Mrs. Harris-Brooks, Ms. Walker quickly implemented the following changes, promising these would induce growth, create profit and enhance member service:
  • Installation of a new call center in the South Pasadena branch
  • Dismantling the Business Development team
  • Introduction of a payday-styled loan
  • Introducing courtesy pay (costly overdraft protection)
  • Remodeling of the entire South Pasadena branch
  • Remodeling of the Burbank branch; and
  • Promotion of Joseph Garcia to the positions of Call Center Supervisor, Credit Manager, Consumer Loan and Real Estate Loan Manager
With exception of Courtesy Pay, Ms. Walker's newly introduced streams of income proved quite unprofitable. With regards to Courtesy Pay, the credit union obtained profits from charging exorbitant fees the use of overdraft protection. Courtesy Pay is not new or unique and was not the brainchild of Ms. Walker but it was the one factor which impelled Priority One's metamorphosis from credit union to that of a traditional bank. 

Ms. Walker's failures, personal behaviors and her insubordination to the President, Executive Vice President and the Board of Directors were sufficient to warrant her termination in July 2011. Contrary to her boasting, Ms. Walker provide as incapable as President Wiggington and Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, in formulating a single strategy that would propel business forward. In fact the only person she apparently had the ability to sell anything to was Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, who without reservation, bought into everything promised by Ms. Walker. 

In late 2012, President Wiggington officially dismantled the Business Development team just as he had dismantled the once successful and industry recognized, Marketing Department 
Not only did he bring an end of the team's visits to the communities served by the credit union but at the time, Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, disclosed that the credit union could no longer afford to send representatives to chamber luncheons or to participate in community sponsored events.

Recently, President Wiggington revealed that it has become imperative the credit union regain a foothold in the communities it is supposed to serve. His reasons are not so much driven by a need to create ties with the communities but rather to try and acquire new business. As part of his newest enterprise, the President has ordered reinstatement of a former senior business development representative who in 2012, was ordered to work in the Call Center. The employee who has been employed by Priority One for more than 40-years, had over many decades, built strong, lasting relationships with employees of the United States Postal Service and SEG's but for some inexplicable reason, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. chose to take the successful representative who had an actual documented record of success and replace him with Joseph Garcia who had an actual well-documented record of chronic failures. 

One could spend hours trying to discern the reasoning behind the President's many empty and ineffective decisions but does his attempts to resurrect business development come a little too late? 

In 2007, the President ordered reduced efforts by the business development team to try and acquire new business from employees of the United States Postal Service. At the time, he ordered greater focus placed on SEG development, a segment of the credit union's business which had never brought in much business. 

Similarly, in 2007, he ordered cessation of all season loans developed by his predecessor, William E. Harris. Though the loans had proven one of the credit union's most successful products, the President declared that he did not wish to offer anything created by his predecessor. In 2014, President Wiggington ordered reinstatement of season loans. 

In 2010, Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, scoffed at the overall importance employees of the postal sector upon Priority One's business yet in 2015, the credit union is resurrecting efforts to regain its former relationship with members who are also employees of the United States Postal Service.

The success of the credit union's current efforts is contingent on so many factors not the least of which is that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. is a president who has no understanding of the importance of member relations and whose administration is characterized by deception, illegal acts, and scandals.  


ANOTHER UNEXPLAINED CLOSURE

In February 2012, the Los Angeles branch closed for three days. At the time, President Wiggington issued a notice to employees on the credit union's Intranet and posted notices on the branch's doors, disclosing that the office was closed due to a power outage. As time would prove, the "excuse" was a lie an another of Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. greatest fumbles. There was no power outage. Though the office was closed, members and employees of the Los Angeles Postal Distribution Center, the facility housing the branch, reported seeing lights on in the office and employees working at their computers. 

In March 2012, employees of the Los Angeles branch began reporting that the branch was closed during which Internal Auditor, Diane Huffman, audited that office's records. Ms. Huffman's finding that money had been stolen from the vault of the Los Angeles branch,  resulted in the termination of AVP, Lynnette Pearl Fortson, who was accused of stealing money. Ms. Fortson's termination was divulged by employees of the Credit Resolutions Department, some of who were informed of the theft by Vice President of Operations, Yvonne Boutte, who had been reassigned to the Los Angeles branch during the months of January through April 2014. 

Earlier this month, members visiting the Los Angeles and South Pasadena branches reported that both offices were closed. This time, President Wiggington did not post a notice on the credit union's Intranet nor did he order placement of a notice on the doors of either branch. Employees arriving at both branch's were surprised and wondered how long the branches would remain closed. 

Employees of both offices were told that the credit union's network had sustained technical issues that caused the closures, however, the Van Nuys branch which shares the same network as the Los Angeles and South Pasadena branches, was conspicuously unaffected. So how is this possible? It's not. As we've often reported since 2009, Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. may be an obsessive liar but he is also an inept one. 


A VICE PRESIDENT BITES THE DUST

During the month of August, notorious Vice President of Operations, Yvonne Boutte, left the credit union. Allegedly, Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, disclosed that she was ill  and would be gone for awhile, however, she did return momentarily and was observed re-entering her office with Mr. Smock and afterwards, quietly departing the credit union. A notice was posted the following day simply stating she was no longer an employee of the credit union. 

Ms. Boutte's departure is significant despite the efforts by President Wiggington, Sr. to keep her adieu as quite as possible and even with Rodger Smock's divulgence that Ms. Boutte was ill. She was evidently well enough to return to the credit union to be escorted to her office where she picked up some belongings while her other personal property was packed by her friend and subordinate, Ms. Alex Suarez. 

We've received a few messages from readers that asked if she was being terminated for the theft of $1 million in cash taken from the vault of the Los Angeles branch during the period of 2010 through 2012. We doubt it. Ms. Boutte was not appointed Vice President of Operations until after Cindy Garvin was terminated in December 2012. The robberies occurred prior to her appointment  and though we know that Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. has developed a well-founded reputation for targeting scapegoats to suffer the consequences for his blunders, it would be inconceivable to try and attribute the losses to Ms. Boutte for a period in time when she clearly wasn't overseeing operations. 

However, her departure comes immediately following closure of the Los Angeles and South Pasadena branches which were not opened earlier this month, due to an alleged network issue. The excuse seems like another Wiggington ploy to deter attention away from something far more telling, like another audit of the credit union's records. The excuse of a network issue is too similar to President Wiggington's 2012 excuse that the Los Angeles branch was closed due to a power outage that never occurred. And as stated previously, if the closures were in fact due to a network problem then why did the Van Nuys office remain open? 

Mrs. Boutte was hired in 2008 to head the credit union's collection department known as Credit Resolutions. For years, the credit union depended on an a paid contractor to perform collection proceedings but in 2008, the President chose to create an in-house collections department, ending Priority One's agreement with the outside contractor. The contractor was informed by then AVP of Lending, Patricia Loiacano, that Priority One would not be renewing its agreement with the long-time contractor. However, Ms. Boutte arrived at Priority One before the actual agreement between the credit union and its contracted collector was actually in effect.

Following departure of the contractor, Mrs. Boutte brought in three collection agents that she had supervised under a previous employer. The women immediately became known for being aloof and unfriendly. They created a their own clique and segregated themselves from other employees. They also became known for their constant gossiping and whispering. Inarguably, Mrs. Boutte's was fostering development of a divisive culture within the working environment and one neither President Wiggington or Executive Vice President, Rodger Smock, took issue with. 

In October 2009, Mrs. Boutte began what would be a short-lived "friendship" with then newly hired COO, Beatrice Walker. From 2009 through mid-2010, the women would meet, in what they believed to be secretively, in the parking lot located under the credit union's South Pasadena branch and in the alleyways and streets located around the branch, and gossip about staff and the President.  

Mrs. Boutte became a part of Ms. Walker's three-person clique and along with Joseph Garcia the tree plotted their eventual displacement of President Wiggington. Inadvertently aiding their plan, was Board Chair, Diedra Harris Brooks, who began transferring much of the President's authority to Ms. Walker.  Unfortunately, Ms. Walker's caustic personality caused the disbandment of her clique and Mrs. Boutte soon became one of the COO's most avid critics. The day after Ms. Walker was terminated, Mrs. Boutte asked members of her staff if she thought the Board might name her Ms. Walker's successor. 

Mrs. Boutte also established a well-deserved reputation of being disrespectful to employees and speaking to them in a condescending manner. She had no problem belittling staff or showing preferential treatment to those she favored. 

She also chronically violated the credit union's policy governing confidentiality, discussing the credit union's most confidential information loudly, in the collections department. 

In 2012, it was she who informed Alex Suarez, that money had again been stolen from the Los Angeles vault and it was she again who said the money had been stolen by AVP, Pearl Lynnette Fortson. 

In mid-2012, she or someone on her immediate staff, published highly confidential account and personal information about a member, on the Internet. When she was ordered to squash versus resolve, the member's allegations that the disclosures were a violation of the Privacy Act, Mrs. Boutte tried to subdue the member, but her coercive tactics ricocheted and the member, a law student, filed a lawsuit which the credit union settled quickly. 

Mrs. Boutte was confident if not arrogant enough, to often boast about her alleged expertise as a strategist but in her oversight over the Member Services, Credit Resolutions, Teller, and Call Center departments she contributed absolutely nothing that led to actual physical expansion of the credit union or which generated profit. Mrs. Boutte's talk was louder than her walk and in the end, she succumbed to the same demise met by so many who served President Charles R. Wiggington, Sr.

LITIGATION: THE NEW NORM

August fared no better for Priority One whose attorney went to court to argue why his client should be allowed to cross-sue Turner, Warren, Hwang and Conrad. Despite the facade President Wiggington has chosen to use, he evidently has confided with some of his staff that he doesn't want to have to go to court. Of course, unless he manipulates the law as he did in 2013, when he found the opportunity to use his then medical cancer treatments as an excuse by which to obtain excemption from a lawsuit that named his Defendant. 


However, the lawsuit filed against Turner, Warren, Hwang and Conrad is only one of several lawsuits. Here is a summary of the current lawsuits filed both against and by Priority One:


I.


TURNER, WARREN, HWANG, CONRAD
vs
PRIORITY ONE CREDIT UNION


Case: EC063303
Type: Other Contract (General Jurisdiction)


II.

CUMIS
vs
PEARLY LYNNETTE FORTSON

Case: BC542611
Type: Other Intentional Tort-notPI/WD/PD (General Jurisdiction)









III.


CUMIS INSURANCE SOCIETY INC
vs
TURNER WARREN HWANG CONRAD

Case: BC541935
Type: Other professional malpractice, not medical or legal


IV.

LEWIS SEIDEN (Auto Alliance)
vs
PRIORITY ONE CREDIT UNION 

Case: BC563815
Type:  Contractual Fraud (General Jurisdiction)

We will report further in next month's post about the credit union's current legal problems and in particular, about the lawsuit filed in 2014 by Lewis Seiden, the owner of Auto Alliance, one of the credit union's formerly contracted automobile brokers. 

When we last reported about the former automobile broker's lawsuit, Priority One's attorney had filed a motion seeking dismissal of Lewis Seiden's lawsuit on the basis that Mr. Seiden's allegations did not constitute a breach of contract and were in essence, unfounded. 
The Plaintiff responded to each of the credit union's reasons seeking dismissal and the court determined there is a sound basis for the Plaintiff's complaint alleging Priority One breached its agreement with the automobile broker and so, the case will now proceed to court. 

CONCLUSION


Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and Board Chair, Diedra Harris-Brooks, have spent immense amounts of credit union funds and hours, on campaigns intended to beautify the credit union's abhorrent public reputation. In 2012, they listened to consultants who suggested infusing the Internet with images of the President's and Executive Vice President's biographies, CV's and resumes. At the time, the goal, to draw member interest in the products and services offered by Priority One, but the expensive efforts missed their target. 

We have no reason to believe the consultants ever suggested the officers falsify their employment histories but the opportunity to create an embellished online persona may have been too great a temptation to Charles R. Wiggington, Sr., a president who spent years distorting the truth. Unfortunately, the President repeatedly opts for superficiality over substance and though he repeatedly fails to achieve his unrealistic objectives, he continues to resort to the use of the same old expensive tactics.  

The Credit Union's Board of Directors have aided Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. but gamblng credit union resources on failed and costly campaigns designed to deter attention away from the credit union's decline, embarrassing scandals, illegal acts, and their bungling business decisions. There is no amount of SPENDING that can succeed in cloaking the harrowing record of abuse and mismanagement amassed under President Wiggington and the Board. The efforts to hide his failures and undisciplined personal behaviors have all been sanctioned by the Board of Directors and funded by the credit union. 

In the meantime, we have to wait patiently for the outcome of the many lawsuits being litigated by the credit union. It's important to note that from 2010 through 2013, Priority One spent more than $500,000 on legal expenses. That amount of spending on litigation was astronomical for a credit union that once spent $20,000 to $22,000 annually on attorneys. It was also  financially draining to a credit union's whose business is in decline and whose overhead is above the industry average.* Despite the immense increase in spending during 2010 through 2013, the President and now former Vice President of Operations, Yvonne Boutte, arrogantly boasted the amounts paid out in settlements to Plaintiffs were paltry and meaningless to the organization. They might not have donned such a cavalier attitude had they been forced to pay the settlements from own personal funds.

However, the immense amount of money previously spent on litigation is being overshadowed by the amount which has been spent since April 2014. If the court determines that Turner, Warren, Hwang and Conrad are innocent of the allegations brought against it by CUMIS, then that outcome will serve as an indictment against Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. and his executive staff and will prove that they failed to ensure the credit union's security protocols were being maintained and due to their negligence, enabled one individual, to walk out with more than $1 million in cash from the vault of the Los Angeles branch. 

During the years of 1992 through December 31, 2006, the years proceeding the appointment of Charles R. Wiggington, Sr. to President, Priority One physically grew in size, in the amount of its net income, and in the size of its membership. Its then competent and respected President structured mergers absorbing other credit unions and expanded Priority One's territories. It was a golden age and one that quickly unraveled starting on January 1, 2007, the date Charles R. Wiggington,Sr. was appointed President. If one is seeking evidence of the credit union's decline, then one only need look at the three remaining branches, the amount of the credit union's net income, the amount of lawsuits that have been filed since Charles r. Wiggington, Sr. became President, and the inability of the executive sector to reverse the multitude of problems ushered into existence under President Wiggington- a man whose reality requires fabricating embellishments about himself.  
What Happened to Priority One Credit Union How a corrupt President caused Priority One Credit Union's decline http://www.piorityonecu.blogspot.com


This post first appeared on What Happened To Priority One Credit Union?, please read the originial post: here

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