Monday, February 23, 2009

Scandal in Cream City

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 3:23 PM

progress.

"What do we got?" said Len Mayer, interim CEO of the Humboldt Creamery a few moments ago. "We have a 22-year-employee, the CEO, resigning immediately. We can't get hold of him, we can't contact him. And he says there's something wrong with the finances."

Today has been a busy day for Mayer and for the entire Humboldt Creamery today -- the first business day following former CEO Rich Ghilarducci's mysterious and abrupt resignation. According to Mayer, and according to a press release which the Journal has not yet received, due to technical difficulties, Ghilarducci sent his resignation via his attorney, and with it a warning about the company's finances. The former CEO was on a business trip when the letter arrived at the offices of the Creamery's attorney; he has not been heard from by anyone there since.

Ghilarducci's attorney-delivered warning apparently stated that the company's financial statements are inaccurate, and warned the company not to sell any more shares of a certain class of stock. Mayer said that neither he, nor the company's chief financial officer, nor anyone at the Creamery yet had any idea what the discrepancy could be.

"How could something be happening that we're not aware of?" Mayer said. "That's what we're trying to figure out."

Mayer said that the company -- widely hailed, recently, as an unqualified bright spot in an otherwise bleak Humboldt County economy -- would be holding meetings with stakeholders over the coming weeks and days. He said that forensic accountants were being brought in to rake over the Creamery's books. He pledged that the company would be completely open with the public and all interested parties.

Ghilarducci is being represented by the San Francisco firm of Keker & Van Nest, which maintains, among other specialties, a high-profile practice in defending white-collar crime cases. Former clients include Enron principal Andrew Fastow, Richard Scruggs and Hmong warlord Vang Pao.

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