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Redding Accused of Extortion

Mendocino Coast Health Care District Board member, and candidate for 5th District Supervisor, John Redding has been accused of extortion. The extortion accusation comes via an April 14th email written by attorney Arthur D. Hodge of Carlsbad and addressed to Redding. 

Here is the offending statement from a March 25th email in which Redding makes apparently extortionate demands of fellow board member Amy McColley: 

“I will offer you two choices: resign immediately and issue me a public apology or face a lawsuit asking for several $100,000 in damages and a criminal referral.”

Of course, we need some back story. Here is the full content of the March 25th email Redding sent to McColley. It begins with a reference to the February 8th disappearance of MCHCD board meeting zoom recordings:

Amy,

I learned today that you are in possession of evidence that I did not delete the Zoom recording. I learned of this by speaking to Jessica [MCHCD Board member Jessica Grinberg] and Jimmy Coupe [Adventist Health IT employee] who, along with [attorney] Jacob Patterson, performed a forensic audit of the Zoom account shortly after the meeting. Jimmy determined that the IP addresses active that night belonged to you, very likely Sara [MCHCD Board member Sara Spring], and Jessica and most definitely not me (as I have contended from the beginning.) It appears that the IP address that had my name attached could belong to Sara. I have the screenshots and IP addresses to backup all this. These screenshots were provided to Jacob and almost certainly to you.

It is fortuitous that someone disclosed Patterson’s timekeeping records for February to Malcolm Macdonald. These records, which you did not disclose to other Board members, show that you pursued your attempt to blame me for the deleted recording a full two weeks after it had been established that I was not involved.

Yet you have not released this information that would clear me and continue to insist that it was in fact me that deleted the recording. You have not withdrawn or modified your referral to the District Attorney leaving people to think that I have possibly committed a felony. This puts you into legal jeopardy in several ways: defamation of character with malicious intent, framing me for a crime (providing false information or claims in order to convict me of a felony) and unlawful interference in an election.

I will offer you two choices: resign immediately and issue me a public apology or face a lawsuit asking for several $100,000 in damages and a criminal referral.

John

At a March 31st regular MCHCD Board meeting Redding again expressed his belief that McColley linked his name with the disappearance of zoom recordings on February 8th and withheld what he believed was exculpatory evidence. He stated that he had “engaged a prominent San Francisco law firm” on his behalf. He termed McColley's actions a form of retribution. 

In a phone discussion with yours truly the day after the March 31st meeting (and reported in the AVA during the first week of April), McColley stated she had contacted zoom personnel who demonstrated to her that the district's version of zoom did not support record keeping of identifiable IP addresses, thus she could not draw any definitive conclusion as to who might have caused the disappearance of the zoom recordings on February 8th. McColley also asserted she had not seen a written report about the supposed IT investigation on February 9th. She claimed that Grinberg took it upon herself, without board direction, to contact the Adventist Health IT employee to conduct a “forensic audit.” McColley added that her method of handling the February 8th zoom disappearance involved contacting the County District Attorney's office to pursue the matter.

Which takes us to the letter sent by McColley's attorney, Arthur Hodge, on April 14:

Dear Mr. Redding:

This office has been retained in connection with your repeated harassing and extortionate communications with and pertaining to Amy McColley. The intent of this letter is to cease such harassment prior to court intervention.

Firstly, Ms. McColley has not, as a matter of law, accused you of anything. During the Board meeting of February 24, 2022, she and other Board members simply notified the Board and the public of deleted Board meetings that were to be kept as the Board's official meetings on the Zoom platform. An investigation is underway and, for the public's interest and the Board's integrity, Ms. McColley sincerely hopes that these meetings are able to be retrieved.

Secondly, even if Ms. McColley's statements during the Board meetings could be seen as accusatory, they are protected speech under California law. California Civil Code section 47 provides that a publication or broadcast is privileged if made in the proper discharge or an official duty or one made in a legislative proceeding. Clearly any purported accusatory statements made by a Board member during a Board meeting is privileged pursuant to Civil Code section 47.

What is not privileged speech, however, is extortionate speech. On Friday, March 25, 2022, you emailed Ms. McColley and threatened her with 'two choices: resign immediately and issue me a public apology or face a lawsuit asking for several $100,000 in damages and a criminal referral.' This is facially extortionate and both civilly and criminally unlawful.

In California it constitutes criminal extortion to threaten to accuse another of a crime, coupled with a demand to obtain an official act of a public officer. (See Cal. Penal Code, 518,519.) Extortion is both a crime and may form the basis for a civil action in tort. (See, e.g. Philippine Exp. & Foreign Loan Guar. Corp. v. Chuidian (1990) 218 Cal. App. 3D 1058, 1078, citing Pen. Code, 518, 519.)

Accordingly, because your communications both threaten to expose Ms. McColley to criminal prosecution and demand her to make a public apology as a Board member in lieu thereof, your communication constitutes extortion as a matter of law. Further, recently a California Court of Appeal found that a threat to terminate employment coupled with a demand for money constituted extortion. (See Galeotti v. Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs Local No. 3 (2020) 48 Cal. App. 5Th 850, 853.) Your demand that Ms. McColley resign or face crimial prosecution is similarly an extortionate communication.

Ms. McColley has no interest in litigating the above and simply requests that you cease your harassing and extortionate communications and behavior. If, however, you continue to harass and attempt to extort her, she will have no choice but to seek court intervention and will seek all fees, costs, and sanctions associated therewith.

Should you wish to discuss this matter, I am available by phone or email. Please let me know when you are available and I will try to accommodate a discussion. Please do not attempt to communicate with Ms. McColley directly regarding these issues. 

Very truly yours, Arthur D. Hodge.

A little over a week after Redding's March 25th email to Ms. McColley, I was preparing an article about MCHCD that placed in question Redding's unilateral handling of MCHCD financial matters. I sent drafts of the article to Redding multiple times on April 3rd. At a little after 2:30 that afternoon, he responded to a slightly expanded version of the article with: “Print this pack of lies and I will add your name to the lawsuit.”

*The article went out as written.

2 Comments

  1. John Redding May 6, 2022

    How many times can you beat a dead horse? Let Mr. Macdonald show you! The headline should read, in all honestly, Ms. McColley accuses Redding of a felony despite being in possession of exculpatory evidence.
    Macdonald is a player disguised as a reporter. He desires to shape Board agendas and decisions, not report on them. Consider the impertinent email below that he wrote to all five members of the hospital Board at 12:20 am. He tongue lashes everyone and says that he can turn these criticisms into a column if we don’t bend to his will.
    He said this of me. I am sure we can all agree it just shows how objective he is!

    “John, you have to show eight months of perfect behavior – no head shaking, no interrupting, no grand jury complaints for things you agreed to three months earlier, no sneaky attempts to undermine the current chair, no pouting whatsoever, no defensive reactions to comments or questions from public or board, the list goes on – in other words, sit silently, speak when called on only, be a good fellow – start with accepting criticism silently without displaying emotion – do that and somebody will notice the positive change – as it is you are a laughing matter AT BEST – Now, sit silently and accept that for what it is, a biting critique that you might need to look inward for answers to – I know you want to blame the messenger of that thought, but there are too many who hold that way of thinking to answer all of them – take a look in the mirror, John – if you can’t do that, you can’t be on any team let alone representing the public)”

    The full email follows:
    MCHCD BOARD members,

    Jessica helping Norman with the zoom board – that was a good thing.

    A motion to be more transparent in the way of monthly payments/ledger, per Jade’s recommendation was a positive except it wasn’t really on the agenda.
    This is where you as a whole are going to have to decide if you are going to be sticklers to procedural rules or only selective about them.
    If the Board Chair is going to start violating basic HIPAA ethics, I don’t see any recourse other than to interrupt your shaky procedural setting. That includes the comment on the website. I view that as John Redding taking advantage of the absence of the other two board members. Essentially, John, you were engaging in what I admonished you not to do, trying to undermine this board.
    The .org website was approved by you and your fellow board members in a vote in front of the public. So was the idea of using the service behind it.
    If you fail to remember that, you can be reminded again and again in public venues if need be. At this point, John Redding, I don’t think you are capable of working with others unless you are completely getting your own way. In the previous email, I went out of the way to compliment you on the budget you presented at the June 24, 2021 board meeting. The other truth, though, was that anybody listening could hear you get defensive after simple questions from Sara Spring. That sort of thing should have stopped back in January 2019. Grow up!
    The repeated childish behavior, at events related to healthcare, your inability to be accurate with financial figures, and so much more leads me to the same conclusion: you do not belong on any board representing the public. You are not the “victim” of some Bernie, Ted, Malcolm conspiracy. If you are to play the victim, take a look in the mirror, or better listen to the zoom recordings that exist. You are a “victim” of your own words and deeds. At that June 24, 2021 meeting it was good to hear you admit that the CARES money (a hefty chunk of the positive solvency you like to brag about) came to the district without one finger lifted on your end. At the same meeting, you proclaimed that MCHCD would hold onto all of the $5.5 in CARES money. Wrong again, John.
    I’m writing this to just the five of you. It can easily be converted into an article.
    I wrote to the two past chairs a couple months back about the need to let the public know whether or not District money was used to fund the July 1st dinner meeting with AH personnel.
    You’ve had meeting after meeting to get out in front of that, yet nothing, not a peep of transparency from any of you. Perhaps that shouldn’t fall to those who weren’t there, but someone needs to own up to it. Maybe Norman should since it seems an open secret that his talking healthcare business with Judson blew up the meeting. However, the matter of public funds is the real issue. When talking to Wayne when he was here, he liked to remind me that one has to watch out for times when public officials get too used to spending OPM. If you looked blankly at his OPM reference, he would remind, “Other People’s Money.”
    You all have gotten too casual with OPM, specifically taxpayer’s money (some of which, from multiple parcels, is my money). On the other end of OPM, you have remained too casual with money you have promised groups like Hubs & Routes. Why should Dr. Kreger have to contact me to go through my notes to find some of these loosey-goosey references to money seemingly due Hubs & Routes, but never acted upon with full motion, second, vote procedures.
    Thank you to Jessica for providing the zooms that are out there so I could go back through them to listen for the specifics on Hubs & Routes. And yet, where is the June 10, 2021 zoom recording? That either needs to appear or someone needs to explain why it can’t. Explain to the public at a board meeting.

    I’ve told Amy more or less face to face that I felt some of her actions last year and this were betrayals, personal betrayals – betrayal, I don’t know what word could be more personally cutting, but Amy took it on the proverbial chin and has remained willing to listen to me as someone whose opinion still matters. I wrote up multiple articles essentially pointing the finger at her and Sara in the Patterson usage. Both of them have been forthright with me and seemingly with the public about those actions.

    It isn’t really the best thing to compare people. However, that stepping up to accept responsibility or whatever one wants to call it appears gravely lacking in two other board members, one of whom was supposed to be guiding the board for two years.
    Jessica, I know you are capable of good things. Helping Norman with the zoom tonight is one example. I do not want to go into some sort of mutual reputation smearing with you. We cam hold onto our emails and texts for now, but you have to stop making up false scenarios, you have to live up to that person who can go out on her own and help Sherwood Oaks stay open. It may take time, but you need to turnaround the objective and subjective opinions I have heard from way too many people. You are smart enough to do good things only, speak nothing but the truth, so that people who are calling you words and phrases that reflect negative personality traits start to change their minds and return to nothing other than praise for the positive projects I know can represent your core being. Stop the sneakiness, continue to support Norman for the next seven or eight months, own up to the July 1st dinner, fess up to using Patterson’s services, tell us what happened with June 10th. Seems like the biggest bone of contention is whether or not BB&K was terminated then. Admitting that, is almost water under the bridge at this point. If you just made a simple checklist of admissions and rattled them off at a board comments section of the next meeting, most people won’t notice, won’t care. Do that and give me the chance to lump the admissions into one thing that writes up as an act of transparency if not merit. That, from you Jessica, would be true leadership, would pretty much border on heroism.
    Norman, that was a pretty egregious error telling the public that Mayor Norvell has had Covid! As my mother used to say once in a great while, I don’t know what possessed you to dot that!
    But it is just that, one of those once in a great while things. We all make mistakes. You will have to face up to Bernie Norvell. I’d venture that you are going to have to do some darn good things to earn his trust back, but it is not the end of the world as we know it (or any other R.E.M. song).
    Three of you couldn’t get through a two item agenda without mucking up. Still I want to hold out hope for you (John, you have to show eight months of perfect behavior – no head shaking, no interrupting, no grand jury complaints for things you agreed to three months earlier, no sneaky attempts to undermine the current chair, no pouting whatsoever, no defensive reactions to comments or questions from public or board, the list goes on – in other words, sit silently, speak when called on only, be a good fellow – start with accepting criticism silently without displaying emotion – do that and somebody will notice the positive change – as it is you are a laughing matter AT BEST – Now, sit silently and accept that for what it is, a biting critique that you might need to look inward for answers to – I know you want to blame the messenger of that thought, but there are too many who hold that way of thinking to answer all of them – take a look in the mirror, John – if you can’t do that, you can’t be on any team let alone representing the public).
    I remember at one of those Mendocino Hotel strategy/shooting the breeze dinners (that JG at least once has denied ever occurred – that is part of the lack of truthfulness I am referring to), Jessica asking what it was like having the ear of all the board members and the CEO. Well, maybe it was a mistake to get even remotely close to any of you. I hope that isn’t the big picture takeaway in the long run. I’m not inviting John over for a hard cider on the Fourth of July, but if he refrained from making conversations a blame game only on his current perceived enemies on the board (what an irony how that has changed) then I am always open.

    I think that is all that is needed, for you all to be just that, open with the public. Treat the public like you are one on one with them over a bowl of soup or fish and chips or salad with your favorite drink – and that you are going to do the same thing with them in a week or two – and they are going to know almost as much as you do because you are being transparent with them, being honest. Treat every single question and comment like it’s from someone you are having lunch or dinner with – and treat each other like that and more; hopefully, you will be sitting at the same table together for another eight months. Do it so you can look each other and the public in the eye and not feel defensive about it.

    Malcolm
    MCHCD Board,

    There is one more good news/ bad news from last night’s meeting.
    I’m not going to mince words here. In the eyes of many, John Allison is perceived as “”a tool” in the this behind the scenes “palace coup” that needs to go away.
    That means you, Jessica and John.

    The fact that Allison dropped the Amy residency overly repeated tactic from his repertoire last night was a mild improvement. However, Director Grinberg’s effusive praise of Allison’s “very, very important” comments about dissolution could outwardly be seen as a positive in encouraging more public input on that subject matter, it also can be perceived as a signaling to ‘keep it up’ in the general undermining of other board members.
    John and Jessica, you both exist pretty much in bubbles that are not in tune with the widespread view that is aware of this vanity project that has been underway ever since the board election in December.
    That is a kind of third rail for the two of you right now and probably for the remainder of your collective tenure on the MCHCD Board. Any little signaling that you are “going there,” trying to return Jessica to the chair or worse, John, goes noticed rather than unnoticed.
    Neither of you are being sly or clever in that arena. I said it before. Knock it off.
    Jessica and John need to realize that the vast majority of those names and faces on the zoom board perceive just about everything you do and say in meetings as potentially underhanded.
    That is just how it is…
    It is on you two now to prove otherwise in every choice of phrasing, in every action.
    Which leads to the website.
    Instead of working some ploy to return to the mchcdorg.com site, John and Jessica, you need to be making a concerted and obvious effort to convert any meaningful material from that site to the mchcd.org district website. Again, it is as simple as this: stop the not so subtle undermining. Knock it off!
    Do things that are helpful to building up the correct website instead of sitting back and doing nothing in an effort to make it look bad.
    Case in point, get the zoom recordings on the district website.
    I’ve bent over backward not calling the two of you out on the failure to send the vast majority of public record requested zoom recordings to me. You act like it would be some sort of personal comedown to send any beyond the few that the BB&K attorney sent to me.
    Technically, Jessica and John, your inaction in not continuing to send those zoom recordings to me has put the whole board in jeopardy because I could easily file a FPPC complaint on that matter.
    So knock that petty little maneuvering off!
    It is beyond petulant and demonstrative of childishness at best if not clear character flaws.
    You two, Jessica and John, need to demonstrate some good faith actions.
    You can start by fulfilling your pra duties and helping the board as a whole. Send all the available zoom recordings directly to anyone who has requested them (I am definitely one of those) and help move them onto the mchcd.org website.
    If you can’t do that, you might as well both leave the board because you will be clearly demonstrating that all you capable of is continuing the problems.
    For the sake of the general public you represent, stop the not so subtle childishness and undermining of your fellow board members.
    Go out there and do the wight thing!

    Malcolm

  2. Malcolm Macdonald May 6, 2022

    For some reason John Redding thinks it is wrong for constituents to tell elected officials what they expect of them.
    What will he do when his words or actions are brought to light on the Board of Supervisors? You can pretty much guarantee he will deflect and divert from his actions and attempt to smear the messenger.
    Earlier this year Redding was perfectly willing to release MCHCD documents to me that shed doubt on a fellow board member he didn’t like. However, when I also quoted from documents that exposed some of his inabilities as board treasurer he responded, “Print that pack of lies and I’ll add you to my lawsuit.”
    This, sadly, appears to be the quintessential John Redding. He cannot bear criticism. He does not work well with others. If that sounds like something a pre-school teacher might write about a problematic child, well…

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