By CalCoastTimes Staff
Carl Knudson Investigations has been retained by friends of CalCoastNews to reexamine details of a published article which resulted in litigation and a $1.1 million defamation verdict against the news website in March.
Knudson will examine evidence developed by CalCoastNews reporters in preparation for publication of an article about practices of a county-paid hazardous waste disposal company, Eco Solutions, and its owner, Charles Tenborg. Most of that information as well as testimony of nearly a dozen witnesses subsequently was not allowed into evidence during the eight-day trial, often because of missed filing deadlines and similar missteps.
Karen Velie and Dan Blackburn co-founded CalCoastNews in 2008, and their joint byline headed a 2012 article. The article was removed from the website following the jury trial.
Knudson will scrutinize a variety of pertinent managerial and financial information specific to certain individuals, San Luis Obispo County officials and agencies, private entities, and public utility companies.
Following the judgement, a former neighbor of Tenborg provided dozens of photographs of Eco Solutions’ transportation and storage of hazardous waste for Knudson to scrutinize.
Knudson’s online profile cites his deep experience as a “forensic accountant, private investigator, certified fraud examiner specializing in white collar crime litigation, with extensive trial experience as an expert testifier.”
He has conducted internal investigations for government and corporate clients related to public and private issues.
In 2011, the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury, prompted by a CalCoastNews investigation, mounted an investigation into influential Central Coast engineer John Wallace. It probed conflicts of interest regarding allegations Wallace was funneling work from a government body he administered to his private firm, the Wallace Group.
Following the news site’s investigation, the Grand Jury determined there appeared to be a conflict of interest. San Luis Obispo County Auditor Controller Jim Erb was assigned to look into the conflict of interest allegations. Erb found no wrongdoing, he later reported.
But shortly thereafter in 2015, Knudson was tasked with investigating Wallace’s practices. A year later, Knudson shared his findings with the San Luis Obispo County District attorney’s office, which has since filed three felony and two misdemeanor charges of conflicts of interest against Wallace.
Knudson spent 24 years as a special agent for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division following eight years with the Office of Naval Intelligence and the CIA. He managed high-profile, complex white-collar crime cases for both Price Waterhouse Cooper and KPMG, one of the nation’s “Big Four” auditing firms. Knudson was the IRS agent whose work uncovered the Colombian cartels and the Oliver North fiasco in the 1980s.
A parallel appeal of the news site’s trial result is being filed by the prominent international law firm of Alston & Bird. The appeal is headed by Paul Beard II and Clynton Namuo.