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Agha sues Potter over campaign contribution

Carmel Pine Cone -- April 16-22, 2010



Webmaster Note: Dave Potter was a big supporter of Carmel Valley incorporation. It would be in our best interests to boot him out of the Supervisor's office. Now it looks like we have another reason to oppose him -- charges of corruption.

By KELLY NIX

DEVELOPER NADER Agha has filed a lawsuit against Monterey
County Supervisor Dave Potter alleging fraud and breach of contract
over a $10,000 campaign contribution six years ago Agha said the
supervisor never reported.

The lawsuit alleges Potter took a $10,000 political donation from
Agha in 2004 while Potter was running for a third term as Fifth
District supervisor. But instead of reporting it as campaign money,
Potter laundered the funds through a business partner’s
account so he could settle personal debts, Agha’s lawsuit
says.

Potter “breached the contract with Agha by laundering
what was meant to be a political contribution of $10,000,”
according to the suit, filed April 12 in Monterey County
Superior Court.

This week, Potter directed questions to his attorney, Andy
Swartz, who told The Pine Cone there is no basis for the lawsuit.
“The entire action is illogical, really,” Swartz said
Thursday.

The suit alleges that on Jan. 24, 2004, Potter asked Agha
for an “immediate contribution” of $15,000 for his political
campaign “because it was in dire need of funding.” Agha
gave Potter $10,000 instead.

When Potter went to Agha’s antique store on Alvarado
Street in Monterey to pick up the $10,000 check, he instructed
Agha’s accountant to write “loan” on the check’s memo
line even though Agha contends he made it clear the money
was to be used only for Potter’s campaign and was not a gift
or a loan, according to the lawsuit.

But instead of using it for his campaign, Potter funneled
the money through the business account of his then-campaign
manager, Russ Carter, Agha claims.

On Jan. 27, 2004, Carter endorsed check No. 1022 and
deposited it into his Wells Fargo Bank account.

But Potter never reported the money on campaign contribution
forms as required, according to Agha.

“Potter knew the representations were in fact false and
that he did not plan or intend the funds he was soliciting from
[Agha] to be used in his political campaign,” the lawsuit says.
Agha also alleges Potter intended to use the funds “for his
own personal use by spending money on personal debts
unrelated to his campaign.”

And that, Agha insists, was a breach of their contract and
part of Potter’s “fraudulent scheme.”

Potter denies claims

But Swartz took aim at the lawsuit Thursday, and said
Potter has denied requesting the word “loan” be placed on the
check. As of Thursday, Potter hadn’t been served with the
suit, Swartz said.

“First, it was a loan made to somebody else,” Swartz said.
“And a thorough investigation was done and the appropriate
government agency cleared Mr. Potter.”

Furthermore, the transaction occurred in 2004, well
beyond the four-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit
alleging written breach of contract and three years to file a
fraud claim, Swartz said.

“Finally, even if you were to believe everything stated was
true by Agha, he suffered no damages,” Swartz said. “When
anyone donates money to a political campaign, there can be
no expectation of recovery of anything in return.”
Swartz said he plans to ask a judge to dismiss the case
given the statute of limitations issue.

Potter cleared before

Allegations of misuse of funds surfaced last spring.
In May 2009, Agha reported Potter’s alleged discrepancy
to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which
investigated the supervisor.

But in October 2009, the FPPC found there was not
enough evidence to show Potter broke the law and that it was
closing the case.

“Our investigation has determined that there is insufficient
evidence that you have committed a violation,” according
to a portion of an FPPC letter to Potter.

“When you tell the truth and you play by the rules, you
don’t have anything to be concerned about,” Potter told The
Pine Cone in October. “Usually justice prevails, and in this
case, that is what happened.”

On the allegation Potter breached their contract, Agha,
who hired Monterey attorney Christopher C. Cayce to
represent him, is seeking $10,000 plus 10 percent interest
that has accrued since 2004, attorneys fees and other costs.

On the allegation of fraud, Agha wants another $10,000
plus interest and punitive damages “sufficient to punish
Potter according to [Potter’s] net worth,” the lawsuit says.



Last Updated: Apr 17, 10

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