Four days ago, Vince Dimanno wrote these lofty words to me: “Suing you would be pointless. You have to answer to a Judge more powerful than the ones sitting in a courtroom.”

But this morning, guess what: I received a letter from Mr. Dimanno’s lawyer! Here it is:

lawyerletter p1 lawyerletter p2Note first of all that the lawyer takes no issue with my criticism regarding Mr. Dimanno’s “dysfunctional control of the ARA” (Abbotsford Ratepayers Association), or my statement about “your years of claiming presidency over a large and significant group that DID NOT EXIST any more.”

Note secondly that Vince Dimanno and his partner Mike Archer — the two co-owners of the Internet news vehicle Abbotsford Today — have five times voiced threats of legal action, in response to just being asked questions about Mr. Dimanno and the ARA. Here are the details on that:

1) Mike Archer’s Oct. 10, 2014 column, “Dimanno Must Come Clean“: “Given the libelous nature of the charges Peachey has published, if untrue, and the possibility that the matter could very well end up in court ….”

(2) Mike Archer’s Oct. 11, 2014 comment under his Oct. 10, 2014 column, “Dimanno Must Come Clean“: “P.s. Gerda – so you know – the distortions you refer to were, in fact, attempts to protect you from the consequences of your actions. I’m not sure any other local media would have the courage to take such risks on your behalf. You may not realize it but, by publishing your email, Abbotsford Today is at risk of legal action due to the possibly libelous accusations you’ve made.

(3) Vince Dimanno’s Oct. 11, 2014 email to me: “… the Association is currently considering legal action against your wife related to her recent statements ….” [The “Association” referred to here is the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association (ARA). It should be noted, however, that the ARA is not an incorporated society; it was dissolved in 2012. It therefore does not have any right to sue (Society Act 4.3).]

(4) Mike Archer’s Oct. 16, 2014 email to Gerda: “CEASE and DESIST  Please take us off this email list. I am afraid what is being published is libelous and do not want our company to inadvertently participate in illegal activityAny further emails will be forwarded to the authorities for legal action.

(5) Vince Dimanno’s statements as cited by reporter Alex Butler in the Abbotsford News, Oct. 22, 2014: “Dimanno said he is considering libel action against Peachey. During an interview, he cautioned The News on several occasions in respect to potential legal action.”

All of those threats, by the way, were made prior to my Nov. 2 statements which seem to be the sole concern of Mr. Dimanno’s lawyer.

Note thirdly that the words objected to by the lawyer can readily be understood in a non-libelous way. My reference to “your refusal to open an association bank account, your pocketing of membership and donated monies,” in context of other discussion on my website, refers to the protracted period of time during the early years of the ARA’s operation when Mr. Dimanno delayed in opening a bank account and retained personal control of donated ARA funds. In fact, he delayed so long in opening a bank account that several cheques written to the ARA became stale-dated (designated “expired” in the informal Financial Statement shown below).

The fact that “pocketing” does not have to be understood as theft or embezzlement is clear from the word “essentially” in the lawyer’s statement: “You have alleged that our client has, essentially, committed theft and fraud.” No, that was not my allegation — although, on the other hand, I am unable to rule out that possibility, since Mr. Dimanno has not been forthcoming with any documentation in response to my questioning and the questioning of others. But in any case, “pocketed” is not equivalent to “stole.”

There is some evidence that the ARA did at one point have and/or may currently have a bank account, but even that evidence is murky. The informal ARA Financial Statement below (the only such document I have seen) refers to “banking service fees” and “deposit,” but that Statement is unsigned, has numbers crossed out, and exhibits other irregularities.

Also, Mr. Dimanno’s response to my original questioning states both that “We maintain bank accounts” [plural] and that “the ARA does maintain a bank account” [singular]. As well, Mr. Dimanno adds the curious statement, “That bank account may have funds it.” (A strange thing to say about a bank account that is “maintained.”)

We know for sure that Mr. Dimanno has made false statements about the ARA, so we can’t just trust his word about the ARA bank account(s) or about anything else. Documentary proof is needed. Mr. Dimanno’s lawyer should be giving him wise counsel on how to exhibit transparency and accountability (key terms in the AbbotsfordFirst platform), rather than threatening legal action for words that, in context, have a perfectly reasonable and non-libelous interpretation.

All of this is important because Vince Dimanno, a star candidate for the AbbotsfordFirst party, has made his current presidency of the ARA a key plank in his self-promotion (see here and also the first paragraph here).

Abbotsford residents, please do not vote for this unaccountable, litigious candidate.

ARA FinStmt