San Diego, CA: UCAN to dissolve during grand jury investigation.
By Reporter Perette Godwin, KSWB Fox 5 San Diego;
The Utility Consumers Action Network, which for decades has provided information on utilities and gas prices, is facing major legal troubles and announced Wednesday plans to dissolve its business.
UCAN, a non-profit organization, received a grand jury subpoena on February 22 and days later the company filed a petition with the Superior Court requesting help to dissolve its business.
A statement posted on the UCAN website said allegations have been lodged against its senior management. Although the statement doesn’t name anyone, allegations include embezzlement, entering into illegal contracts, and failure to comply with state audit requirements.
Board members retained lawyers last year in response to lawsuits threatened by staffers, according to the statement. Filing an intention to dissolve with the court would help resolve its legal issues, UCAN said.
UCAN said it would continue its work as a ratepayer advocate while it is dissolved. The UCAN website is a popular source of information on gas prices.
Fox 5 contacted attorneys for UCAN, the non-profit itself and the US Attorney’s office. UCAN Executive Director Michael Shames responded via email.
“I’m going to make sure that UCAN continues to fulfill its mission,” Shames wrote. “I’m not going anywhere and SDG&E will need to put away that high priced champagne for at least another five years or so before they can begin popping any corks.”
In response to the announcement, San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio sent a memo to Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, asking if the city should let UCAN continue to solicit donations via inserts in water bills.
“I am concerned that the city is including a fundraising solicitation in every San Diegan’s water bill for an organization that is now closing down under the cloud of a grand jury investigation,” said DeMaio, who is running for mayor.
Solicitation inserts have been included in bills three times per year since 2009.