Trial Short Strokes

 Nov 10, 2010

Without going into too much detail, let me try to connect a few dots for you in the Long V WSI and North Dakota trial.
Former WSI CEO Sandy Blunt testified he had a "side file" - notes about James Long's job performance which he put into a candy drawer where anyone could access it.  It disappeared.  Long's attorney Tuntland asked whether that document wasn't a bit sensitive to put into a file everybody was accessing.  Blunt said he didn't think anyone was "digging" through that drawer.  The day he returned to WSI, after his felony charges were dropped, but before one was reinstated, he says he recreated those handwritten notes from memory.  Blunt's notes say Jim Long told him that Billi Peltz wanted to have a sexual relationship with him.

Former WSI Human Resources Director Peltz said that allegation was not true, that Long had denied telling Blunt that, but also that she didn't know who to believe anymore.  She said that nothing in Blunt's notes were accurate, and that the man is a convicted felon who created these notes long after the fact from memory; she wouldn't put any weight into them.  

WSI General Counsel Jodi Bjornson said she and Long and Peltz had been friends, and that she had gone for pedicures with Long and thought Peltz had come along.

Defense attorney Bakke established that Peltz had said in her deposition that she thought John Halvorson should not have been interim CEO at WSI because he was involved in too many areas - not that he was involved in illegalities.  Peltz shot back that that was true, but that question wasn't in her depostion.

Board member Mark Gjovig established that if WSI employees have a problem with their supervisor, they are to go through the chain of command, all the way to the CEO.  If they have a problem with the CEO, even if the CEO is engaging in illegal activity, they are not allowed to take it to the board of directors.  But Jim Long did it anyway, only the board would not allow him to speak.

Board member and Human Resouces specialist Bobbi Riplinger said if an executive at WSI had problems with the CEO, he should go complain to the CEO, he could risk losing his job if he went over the CEO's head.  If he suspected the CEO of criminal wrongdoing, if he were certain of facts, he should go to the Chairman of the Board.  But she admitted that the WSI board had supported now convicted felon Sandy Blunt without ever investigating the charges against him.

Staff attorney and investigator Tim Wahlin agreed that Blunt and Halvorson were suspected of improper activity, and that they appointed their own investigators, who in return reported back to them.

Staff attorney and investigator Rob Forward said that made sense because they'd found nothing wrong;  if they'd found wrongdoing,  the report would have gone to law enforcement.

Mark Armstrong's journal said the following:      "Got the secret documents out.  Lengenfelder did the deed but ran into Dave Thompson in the Press Room."   Armstrong explains:   Sandy Blunt had been charged with three felony counts.  He had a narrative, a document he had prepared that he wanted to get out to the press, but I told him I couldn't do it for him.  He asked me whether there was anyone else who could.   I asked my friend Lengenfelder if he could deliver it to the media. So Lengenfelder was trying to secretly distribute Sandy's document.   He and I and reporter Dave Thompson all are members of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.  Lengenfelder happened to run into Dave at church and handed him the document.   That's all there is;  there were no secret documents.

Bureau Of Criminal Investigations' Mike Quinn said Jim Long told him that he had taken Mark Armstrong's journal from Armstrong's desk, that he had no authority to do so, and that he had shown it to two other people.

Staff attorney and investigator Rob Forward said Long told him Internal Auditor Kay Grinsteinner took the journal out of Armstrong's drawer.

WSI General Counsel Jodi Bjornson said that she talked with Long about his doing a Pre investigation interview with Tim Hutchings, but couldn't remember talking with staff attorney Forward about it.
Forward said Long had asked Bjornson to accompany him on that interview, but she didn't want to do it, and so delegated the task to him.  He said he approved Long's idea of tape recording Hutchings.

Justin Data of North Dakota's Information Technology Department said the lines of authority were shifting after John Halvorson became interim CEO.  Data wanted a clear line of decision making, because without it, the project would cost way more down the line.  He said Jim Long was an excellent Project Sponsor on the ITTP software project.

Highway Patrol Officer Shannon Henke said as far as he knew, no one ever investigated Jim Long's allegations.

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