Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lifeguard files suit against Judie Italiano of MEA

UPDATE: May 31, 2009
The lawsuit detailed below seems to have triggered some defensive maneuvers within the MEA (San Diego Metropolitan Employees Association). All of a sudden the union became interested in allegations that were brought up in 2006 and all but ignored by the board of directors. The union started an investigation, and Italiano resigned.

My question: where is Judie Italiano's faithful friend and attorney, the ubiquitous Ann M. Smith? She seems to be taking a back seat to Michael Zucchet. I guess the directors realize that the Judie and Ann show is over.


Suit Filed Against Italiano
Voice of San Diego
May 6, 2009

Two members of the city's white-collar employee union filed suit today against its general manager, Judie Italiano, claiming she misused union funds by charging thousands in personal expenses to union credit cards and made loans to herself, her family and her allies in the union.

The suit was filed by Ed Harris, a lifeguard who is leading a push for the lifeguards to separate from MEA, and by Linda French, who sought to unseat Italiano in 2007. The lawsuit says Italiano breached her fiduciary duties and seeks to have her suspended or removed as general manager.

Among the charges: that Italiano used MEA's line of credit to secure her son's business lease and make a business loan to him. The suit says Italiano made more than $130,000 in personal purchases on the MEA credit card -- including to casinos -- and used $10,000 in union money to buy property "believed to be a timeshare in Hawaii." The lawsuit alleges that Italiano has stopped making payments on a promissory note drafted after the charges were first discovered.

MEA consultant Michael Zucchet said the allegations were already reported in 2006 when former City Attorney Mike Aguirre investigated Italiano.

Zucchet said MEA started an internal investigation into the allegations, hired auditors "and deemed it to be without merit, and took care of what needed to be taken care of."

[Maura Larkins' note: Would this be an investigation by Ann Smith, Judie's inextricably close associate?]

Harris said...the problems cited in the complaint are part of the reason he's seeking to leave MEA.

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