Del Norte CU Attorney Threatens Supervisory Member With Criminal Action
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. -- The saga wages on at Del Norte Credit Union here as the credit unions' legal team trades jabs with a member who may or may not be a member of the supervisory committee.
On June 10, Joseph E. Manges, attorney at Comeau, Maldegen, Templeman and Indall, on behalf of Del Norte, wrote a letter to Charles Montano, who may or may not remain a member of the credit union's supervisory committee. The letter states, "We are deeply troubled by your willful disclosure of confidential information concerning the affairs of the credit union to [reporters], including information concerning strictly confidential audits which you gained solely by virtue of your position on the supervisory committee. We are further alarmed because it appears you intentionally seek to harm the credit union in retaliation for recent events concerning the supervisory committee."
According to Manges, some of that information is "demonstrably false, misleading and derogatory." He threatened criminal liability under state law for divulging information gained as a supervisory committee member, in addition to slander and libel, a third-degree felony.
"Please be advised that the credit union will take such steps as are necessary to protect the confidential information you possess concerning credit union affairs and information which you obtained during your tenure as a committee member," the attorney wrote. He asked that the committee's laptop be returned and demanded Montano stop sharing information with others.
The confusion as to the supervisory committee lies in the fact that the Del Norte board changed its bylaws to allow for board-appointed members of the supervisory committee, rather than elected members, two days after balloting closed. The credit union has not released the results of the election and, according to Montano, has not officially notified him he's off the supervisory committee.
Montano, a former federal bank examiner and currently director of fraud and special audits for New Mexico's Office of State Auditor, fired back in a June 11 letter:
"I think I have a constitutional right to speak to whomever I choose regarding legitimate concerns such as this. If you disagree with my understanding regarding our civil liberties as citizens of this nation, please advice. Otherwise, I request that you stop and desist immediately with efforts to intimidate me into silence or otherwise strip me of my civil liberties."
Montano berated the credit union for stripping Del Norte members of their voting rights with regard to the supervisory committee. Additionally, only about one-third of those who voted last year did so in the most recent election, which Montano alleges was because it was conducted almost entirely electronically, and the board has destroyed ballots from a previous election after it was informed the supervisory committee wanted to audit it.
Montano asserted that he has not falsely stated anything to anyone, nor has he disclosed proprietary information.
As for the committee's laptop, he said he would return it when he was officially notified he is no longer a member of the supervisory committee.
Montano forwarded both letters to the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing authority, and copied the Del Norte board and supervisory committee.