The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 27, 2010
CCPOA sues former employee over alleged document theft

Thumbnail image for Gavel.jpgCalifornia's correctional officers' union has sued a longtime union member in Sacramento Superior Court. The defendant, Steve Fournier, says he doesn't mind the lawsuit. In fact, he welcomed it.

California Correctional Peace Officers' Association v. Steve Fournier went before a Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang last Friday. The suit alleges that the retired CO and former union employee used his access to a Sacramento warehouse to steal sensitive union documents. Information from those papers, the lawsuit contends, have surfaced on a blog that is "heavily critical of the current leadership of CCPOA, and its president in particular."

Fournier says he took nothing, doesn't have any purloined records and that his critical blog posts come from knowledge gained as a former CCPOA union insider.

Click the following link to read more about CCPOA v. Fornier.

The lawsuit cites examples of comments that CCPOA believes Fornier posted on Unit6Times.com,

... from which it appears that, while he was employed by CCPOA, he took CCPOA's private financial and business records which were stored and locked at the Storage Warehouse. These records appear to be (1) CCPOA's bank account statements; (2) "payment of $100,000.00 to Perata's homeless, safe senior project in Alameda"; (3) "$71,000.00 check written on 11-11-09" for the "Latino community project"; (4) "donations to the church of the blessed sacrament (Sacramento) homeless project"; and (5) expense reports of CCPOA members and/or employees.

Click here to read CCPOA's 26-page complaint, which includes screenshots from the blog and concludes that Fournier's conduct and that of unnamed co-defendants

... was intended to cause injury to CCPOA or was egregious conduct carried on with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights of CCPOA, and subjected CCPOA to cruel and unusual hardships in conscious disregard of CCPOA's rights, sufficient to constitute fraud, malice and oppression under Cal. Civ. Code § 3294. This reprehensible conduct entitles CCPOA to recover exemplary damages in an appropriate amount to punish or make an example of Defendants, and each of them, as shown according to proof at trial.

This 149-page appendix has declarations by CCPOA President Mike Jimenez and others, and dozens of Unit6Times blog entries that criticize the union leadership. It also contains a Jan. 6 letter from Cohen-Supple to Fournier that concludes,

If you do not take advantage of this opportunity to return CCPOA's documents, our client has instructed us to initiate appropriate civil and criminal actions to recover the documents from your unlawful possession.

Fournier denies that he possesses any files and said so in this letter to the court. He repeated that assertion Tuesday in an interview with The State Worker. Fournier said his comments on the blog came from knowledge of CCPOA's inner workings as a longtime union member and union employee with connections to leadership. He welcomed the lawsuit, he said, because it publicly validates the issues he's raised on the unit6times blog.

Fournier and the union agreed to a preliminary injunction last Friday (click here to read it), but Fournier sees that as a win as well: "We reached an agreement that I won't circulate documents that the court understands that I don't possess."

On Monday, CCPOA's attorney, Oriet Cohen-Supple, e-mailed an an order for Fournier to sign. He e-mailed back that he wouldn't sign, saying that the last week's agreement was limited to document circulation but that the order from the union lawyer's office contained language "that you can spin to mean that I violated the Penal Code or any other law."

We spoke briefly to Cohen-Supple on the telephone Tuesday as she was heading into a meeting. She said that she would call back, but we failed to reconnect by the end of the business day.

You can click here to read the correspondence between Cohen-Supple and Fournier.

Want to track this case? Click here for the Sacramento Superior Court's online document viewer. Plug case number 00068745, give the site a few seconds to load and then scroll down for a list of documents in the case.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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