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May 06, 2011

Judge Denies Burlington Telecom's Request to Delay Court Case

BT Vermont Superior Court Judge Helen Toor has denied Burlington Telecom's motion to delay a hearing on whether the utility is in violation of a court order issued last year barring it from using city general funds for BT expenses.

The ruling means that a contempt of court hearing will be held on May 23 in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington.

In 2009, two disgruntled taxpayers — former city councilors Gene Shaver and Fred Osier — sued Burlington Telecom and Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold to repay the city's cash pool the $16.9 million that had been borrowed and not repaid. The failure to repay the money within 60 days is a violation of BT's certificate of public good issued by the state and also potentially a violation of the city charter.

Leopold tried to plead immunity from being named in the suit, but to no avail. That means he could be on the hook financially for some of the money repaid to taxpayers if the court finds in the taxpayers' favor.

As part of the civil litigation, BT agreed to not use city funds for ongoing expenses unless it repaid the money within 60 days. Last year it was learned that the city spent several hundred thousand dollars on consultants for BT-related items, but BT didn't fully repay taxpayers. Shortly thereafter, Osier and Shaver's attorney filed a contempt of court charge.

Last month BT asked Toor to delay any further court hearings on the telecom's intransigence until the Vermont Public Service Board weighed in on various violations of BT's state license.

This isn't the first time BT has asked for a delay in the civil trial. Each time, too, Toor has rejected their request.

"The court has an interest in enforcing its own orders separate and apart from any PSB matters," Toor noted on her single-page denial of BT's motion. Toor issued her ruling late Wednesday.

Despite BT's legal troubles, potential buyers remain interested in the municipal telecom. Two of those suitors were interested in February, while two more potential buyers are just beginning to make overtures. Several meetings will be held this month with these unnamed buyers, according to a letter filed with the PSB earlier this week.

Aside from the civil trial, a state investigation led by Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan is close to wrapping up, though it's unlikely any criminal charges will be filed. A separate federal investigation was started last year, too, but there's been no word yet from federal prosecutors whether they will file charges or not.

Whooaaaa hold on.

Why pray tell do you think it's unlikely any charges would be filed? It would quite possibly the largest case of misjustice in this states history if Donovan doens't file charges, and it WILL cost TJ his job. Now, knowing that TJ is mainly interested in higher office he isn't going risk that. It makes zero sense. Maybe you should put in a call and write a blog on how TJ feels about his job, doing his job, and getting asked to resign for inaction and how that may used against him when Sorrell retires and TJ runs for AG.

"though it's unlikely any criminal charges will be filed"

I agree, there is no basis whatsoever for this opinion.

"potential buyers remain interested in the municipal telecom."

I think you meant to preface that with "BT claims..." They could just be making that up. AFAIK this derives solely from claims by City Hall. Have you seen any direct evidence of this?

What happened, someone at 7D get an angry call from Prog "leadership"?

No charges filed = TJ's demise. This is the feeling regardless of party affiliation. I'm a dem and I will vote for any viable candidate that opposes TJ if he doesn't file some charge against these folks who knowingly usurped the law and voters of burlington. GIVE ME A BREAK!! Someone has to pay the penalty for this crime against the taxpayers!

No charges = the end of TJ's career.
On the other side, if TJ files charges then he will have the respect of the voter - EARNED respect.

I'm not holding my breath. I think TJ is a pantywaist.

JCarter What would the state charges be violation of the CPG/ that just doesn't hold up to what a slap on the wrist?

The FEDs have the charges if we see any justice it will have to come from the federal court. Leopold had a ponzi scheme going within the city and misused Federal monies earmarked for the airport. That is where the real charge with the most consequences lie.

Only a trial will reveal if Leopold actually embezzled monies for his own use.

The problem with the tax payers ever seeing one cent of the money that he designated as a debit to the cash pool and stuffed into BT is the fact he used BT to hide the theft from the airport.
Should the city sell BT we are in a failed position to recover the funds. if a deal is struck to pay back the 17million and Citi is not satisfied with the payout, Citi will attach any earmarked payments to satisfy their debt.
You cannot after the fact un-stuff the sausage and separate the meat.
This is why there are schemes to have the city as a minority share holder to keep the debit from being fully realized as loss that it is.

We are screwed, paying for inferior telecom service Comcast has 25 meg download speeds and 3.5 meg upload speeds much better than my BT service. i was paying for up to 5megs symmetrical and was lucky if I ever got 3 down and 2.5 up on average for the day.


"JCarter What would the state charges be violation of the CPG/ that just doesn't hold up to what a slap on the wrist?"

Does it matter? Last time I checked the potential penalty isn't what dictates enacting justice for breaking the law. They embezzeled money, they deliberately mislead voters to influence an election, they violated the CPG which is a legislative document meaning they broke state law. I frankly don't care what the penalties, when Stealopold and Kissit are cuffed I will consider justice served as long as they get the sentenced as outlined in state statute.

Two disgruntled taxpayers? Like the 68% of voters who turned down a recent 4% tax increase? Basta Ya! is widespread in Burlington today but most can't afford a lawyer or otherwise are all talk and no action. Gene Shaver and Fred Osier, former city councilors, put up their own money to call a halt to continuing violation of BT's certificate of public good, issued by the state and potentially a violation of the city charter. City's contempt of court speaks volumes. Sign the Recall Petition when you go to the polls for special election in June.

JCARTER I agree with you but the federal charges are where the rubber meets the road, that is the law with traction and they get first dibbs. TJ is up to his eyeballs in cousin f$cking around here to actually close the deal.

As long as the progs continue to fool themselves that the ends justify the means and there are always bigger pockets to pick they will continue until the FEds step in.

Bast Ya! I choked on Shays two disgruntled taxpayer line as well. Perhaps the progs are such gruntled pigs because we are supporting their big brother machine and they like screwing their neighbors out of money so they can gaze at Sevendaze and read about folks who like to have garlic shoved up their bums and get tied up and schazt on.

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