US Chess Discussion

Welcome! This blog has no connection with the USCF. It's a blog where I provide chess fans with general information about US Chess as well as the USCF. It's also a site where everyone can productively discuss or ask questions about various USCF issues! Your contributions and comments are welcome! PLEASE KEEP IT CIVIL & RESPECT OTHERS! Enjoy! All posts that do not meet this guideline will be deleted -- WIN WITH GRACE, LOSE WITH DIGNITY!(TM) --- 2006 Susan Polgar©

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another lawsuit agains the USCF


More of the USCF legal saga: I am not endorsing this lawsuit and I am not commenting on the merit of it. USCF members can make their own conclusion. However, members need to know what is going on before they can make informed decisions.

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
SANGAMON COUNTY, ILLINOIS

SAM SLOAN, )
)
Plaintiff )
)
- Against - ) 2011MR000159
)
WILIAM GOICHBERG, )
RANDY BAUER, )
JAMES BERRY, )
RUTH HARING, )
ALLEN PRIEST, )
GARY WALTERS, )
MICHAEL ATKINS, )
MICHAEL NIETMAN, )
BILL HALL, )
CONTINENTAL CHESS ASSOCIATION, INC, )
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CHESS FEDERATION, INC, )
an Illinois Not for Profit Corporation )
)
Defendants )

COMPLAINT

NOW COMES Sam Sloan, Plaintiff, and hereby files this
complaint against William Goichberg, Ruth Haring, Randy Bauer, James
Berry, Allen Priest, Gary Walters, Michael Atkins, Michael Nietman,
Bill Hall, the Continental Chess Association, Inc. and the United
States of America Chess Federation, Inc. (“USCF”) and alleges as
follows:

1. This is a proceeding for Declaratory Relief seeking to restore Sam
Sloan to the ballot as a candidate for Election to the Executive Board
of the United States Chess Federation. It also seeks the removal of
William Goichberg from the Executive Board and a permanent bar against
Goichberg from holding any position as an officer of the United States
Chess Federation or from running slates of candidates for election.
The Plaintiff Sam Sloan is a long standing member of the United States
Chess Federation, having been a member since 1956. Plaintiff submitted
himself for candidacy for the current 2011 election but has been
removed from the ballot this year due to Plaintiffs assertion of
voting regulation manipulation by the Defendants.

2. This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants as Defendants
have performed duties as directors or officers of a corporation
organized under the laws of Illinois. 735 ILCS 5/2-209(a)(12). None of
the Defendants reside in Illinois, and therefore venue is proper in
this county pursuant to 735 ILCS 5/2-101. Defendants have previously
filed suit in this county and Court, and therefore provides
indisputable assertion that venue in this Court is proper. The
Defendants previously filed the case United States of America Chess
Federation vs. Susan Polgar and Paul Truong in this same court. This
case should be marked as related to that other case.

3. Defendant USCF is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation in good
standing, with its principal place of business in Crossville,
Tennessee. The USCF is the official, not-for-profit United States
membership organization for chess players and chess supporters of all
ages and strengths, from beginners to Grandmasters. The average or
median age of USCF members is ten years old. The USCF is governed by a
Board of Delegates, composed of a seven-member Executive Board,
Delegates at Large, and over 125 Delegates apportioned among U.S.
States.

4. The seven-member Executive Board ("EB") are tasked with managing
the affairs of the USCF between the annual meetings of the Board of
Delegates who are the true Board of Directors for the USCF.

5. Defendant James 'Jim' Berry is the President of the USCF. Defendant
Ruth Haring is the Vice President of the USCF.

6. Defendant Randy Bauer is the Vice President of Finance of the USCF
whose term expires at the beginning of the next Board of Delegates
meeting in July 2011 to be held in Orlando, FL.

7. Gary Walters and Michael Nietman are seeking re-election to the EB
through the 2011 elections.

8. Michael Atkins is a long term employee of William Goichberg and the
Continental Chess Association, Inc. He has performed significant
compensated duties to William Goichberg prior to Atkins' tenure as a
member of the EB.

9. Allen Priest is a member or chairman of many USCF committees
including the “Forum Oversight Committee” which has acted as a Board
of Censors so as to bar any negative comments about Goichberg or any
positive comments about Sam Sloan from being posted to the USCF Issues
Forum. Allen Priest is currently seeking a position on the EB through
the 2011 elections.

10. Bill Hall is the Executive Director of the USCF who is on
contractual terms of employment with the USCF.

11. Bill Hall's contract is set to expire this year and is a topic of
renegotiation for the EB that will be comprised as a result of the
2011 election.

12. Defendant William Goichberg has been an officer of the USCF as
either President, Vice-President, Executive Director or
Member-at-Large since 1996 with minor gaps caused by being 'termed
out' from time-to-time in accordance to the Bylaws of the USCF. Under
Rule by Goichberg, the USCF has lost more than two million dollars and
is now on the brink of bankruptcy.

13. Defendant William Goichberg is also the sole owner of the
Continental Chess Association ('CCA'), a for-profit corporation, which
is the dominate force in organized, large money stake chess
tournaments ($100,000-$250,000 in prizes) across the United States,
held under the auspices of the USCF. As such he is also the largest
customer of the USCF through advertisement fees, fees for rating his
tournaments, and new membership / renewal membership acquisition.

14. In years past there were spirited election campaigns for USCF
Executive Board with many candidates running. For example, in 1999
there were 17 candidates running. In 2009 there were ten candidates
running. However, in the last few years William Goichberg has become
extremely aggressive about attacking or blocking anybody opposed to
his policies which benefit his for-profit organization at the expense
of all other organizers and the federation, so as to prevent them from
even running. As a result, those not in accordance with William
Goichberg policies have almost all given up, considering running
against the Goichberg machine to be a waste of time and money.

15. Defendant Goichberg, in an attempt to provide a false front for
his motives, commissioned the Governance Task Force ('GTF'), which was
comprised of individuals that he exerts influence over.

16. The GTF was headed by a personal friend of Defendant Goichberg
named Joseph Lux. The deputy of the GTF was Defendant Allen Priest, a
Goichberg sycophant.

17. The USCF and the Executive Board ignored the suggestion of
delegates to have the GTF members be comprised of a group of cross
political parties to ensure fairness. Instead Goichberg sycophants
were the only active members.

18. The GTF proposed by-law changes that were presented to a meeting
of the delegates held in Irvine California on August 8, 2010 after the
election period had already stated and candidates were circulating
petitions. The delegates were not informed of the nature and extent of
the changes and were led to believe that this was a routine measure.
The proposal was not announced in advance and was not in the advance
agenda. No count was made so it could not be determined if the 2/3rds
vote as required in the bylaws was met.

19. The charter of the GTF was to make recommendations for improvement
of the governance structure of the USCF.

20. A crucial change that was the outcome of the GTF and voted upon at
the annual meeting of delegates was changes in election processes.
First it required a new structure of signatures, where 15 signatures
of delegates were required from 5 different states. Second it required
USCF members to register in order to vote.

21. This crucial change was hastily implemented during an election
year, instead of providing time for the new guidelines to become
distributed appropriately to the USCF membership community and the
delegates that were not able to attend the meeting. The next election
is in 2013, only two years away.

22. Meeting minutes from the annual board of delegates meeting were
not made available until December 4, 2010, four months after meeting.
No voice or video recordings have been made available, though they
were made during the meeting.

23. These by-law changes still as of the date of this complaint have
not been posted. No copy is available anywhere. The posted by-laws are
still not reflective of the important changes that have taken place.
They are nearly one year old and are dated May 2010.

24. Election petition due dates were changed from previous years. In
past years, the last day to circulate petitions was January 10. This
year it was moved up to December 31, 2010 without adequate
announcement to the membership and the candidates. Delegates not in
attendance at the annual meeting in Irvine California on August 8,
2010 were not informed of this. Since no communications directed at
the delegates are performed by the federation, those not in attendance
in Irvine are not aware of these changes.

25. In the closing days of the petitioning period, when two candidates
who were members of the Goichberg Slate did not have enough
signatures, Defendant Bill Hall changed the 'received by' requirement
set forth in the by-laws to 'post-marked' by. This was to benefit
members of the “Goichberg Slate”, Allen Priest and Gary Walters, who
were having difficulty collecting signatures due to being unknown in
the chess community. Defendant Hall also should have known the office
was to be closed on December 31 and did not communicate that the
office was closed unless someone proactively asked about it. This
change in Bylaws is not within the power granted to Defendant Hall as
the Executive Director.

26. The Bylaws state that the petitions were to be sent to the
Election Committee, not the USCF office. No information on how to send
the petitions to the Election Committee was provided to any potential
candidates. Instead all petitions were forced to be sent to the USCF
office, the same office whose Executive Director has a vested interest
in the outcome of the election.

27. An appropriate and complete list of delegates were not available
online and to this date the full list is not known. The lack of
knowing who are the delegates (thus the true directors of the
corporation) means that the federation is filing false documents with
the State of Illinois and are only listing the EB members as the board
of directors (which is incorrect as a bylaw amendment exists stating
that the delegates are the Board of Directors, not the EB).

28. Due to the inaccurate and incomplete information on who exactly
are the members of the board of delegates, previous delegates signed
election petitions for Plaintiff Sloan, only to be rejected by the
USCF office.

29. The election committee did not receive physical copies
(scanned/faxed/photocopied) of election petitions or the proof of
receipt of petitions by the due date. They received a MS Word document
with purported names and ID's of people that signed the petitions.
This determination was used to qualify or disqualify signatures. The
USCF staff under the auspices of the Executive Director Bill Hall
validated each signature themselves. This is a conflict of interest as
there is no independence in the verification process.

30. Plaintiff was elected to the USCF Executive Board in 2006 but was
defeated when he ran for re-election in 2007 in part due to the “Fake
Sam Sloan” controversy in which another candidate for election who was
at the time allied with William Goichberg impersonated him more than
2500 times making obscene and scatological newsgroup postings.
Plaintiff is an announced candidate for the current 2011 election but
has been kicked off the ballot this year due primarily to the
manipulations of William Goichberg, the long time control person of
the USCF.

31. This action seeks to restore Sam Sloan to the ballot for the
current USCF election. Secondly, because Bill Goichberg persistently
violates the most fundamental rule involving not-for-profit
corporations in that he runs the USCF for his own personal profit and
benefit by running big money cash prize chess tournaments, Plaintiff
seeks the permanent removal of Bill Goichberg from holding any office
or position in the USCF and further seeks a court order enjoining
Goichberg from running slates of candidates for office in the USCF,
from posting articles on his websites attacking opponents of his
slates, from circulating petitions to get his candidates on the ballot
elected and from in any way interfering in the USCF Election process.

32. Defendants Gary Walters, Michael Neitman and Allen Priest
constitute the "Goichberg Slate" in the current USCF Election. Michael
Atkins and Michael Neitman are current members of the USCF Executive
Board. Gary Walters and Michael Neitman are running for re-election.
Michael Atkins is a long time employee of Bill Goichberg and has
worked as assistant director at many Goichberg tournaments.

33. Defendant William Goichberg is the control person of the USCF.
Goichberg dominates and controls the USCF Executive Board. For almost
every year since 1996, with just a few gaps, Goichberg has been a
control person, holding the positions of President, Vice-President,
Executive Director or Member-at-Large for all but a few of those
years. Goichberg was USCF President from 2005 to 2010 when he was term
limited out and became member-at-large, but he still controls the
board because, for the last three elections since 2007, no candidate
has been elected to the Executive Board without receiving the
endorsement of Goichberg. The “Goichberg Slate” swept the 2008, 2009
and 2010 elections. Under Rule by Goichberg the USCF has lost more
than two million dollars and is now on the brink of bankruptcy.

34. Defendant William Goichberg is also the sole owner of the
Continental Chess Association, a for-profit corporation. The
Continental Chess Association dominates the market for prize money
chess tournaments. During most of the weekends of every calendar year,
the Continental Chess Association holds cash prize money tournaments
around the United States in almost every state except for New Jersey,
where Goichberg is unofficially persona non grata. Goichberg holds
major big money tournaments in the major holiday weekends, such as his
“World Open” held in Philadelphia on July 4th weekend with Guaranteed
Cash Prizes of $225,000, the Chicago Open with $100,000 Guaranteed
Cash Prizes, the North American Open in Las Vegas and Philadelphia
Open with similar prizes, and until 2009 the Foxwoods Open following
which the Foxwoods Casino kicked him out. In addition to these major
tournaments, Goichberg holds minor tournaments on most weekends with
cash prizes ranging from about $4,000 to about $10,000 each.

35. All of these cash prize money tournaments are held under the
auspices of the USCF. They are all USCF Rated. They are all advertised
in Chess Life magazine. Goichberg so dominates the market for prize
money tournaments that it has proven nearly impossible for other
tournament organizers to compete with him. Several organizers who have
tried to compete against Goichberg have suffered severe financial
losses and some have even gone bankrupt.

36. In years past there were spirited election campaigns for USCF
Executive Board with many candidates running. For example, in 1999
there were 17 candidates running. In 2009 there were ten candidates
running. For many years Goichberg was a pariah in the USCF due to his
running exclusively big money tournaments, often in gambling casinos,
especially since the median age for USCF members is 10 years old.
Goichberg, knowing he could not get elected, did not run. However, in
the last few years Goichberg has become extremely aggressive about
attacking or blocking anybody opposed to his policies so as to prevent
them from even running. As a result, those not in accordance with
Goichberg policies have almost all given up, considering running
against the Goichberg machine to be a waste of time and money.

37. Among the things that Goichberg does to stop anybody not blessed
by him from running or being elected is he sends out huge mass
mailings primarily advertising his prize money tournaments but also
telling the voters whom to vote for. Goichberg typically mails 17,000
(seventeen thousand) postcards in a batch. Goichberg also posts on his
tournament websites including http://www.chesstour.com/ articles
attacking and ridiculing any candidate not favored or endorsed by
Goichberg, for example at http://www.checkmate.us/ . Goichberg also
hires assistant directors for his tournaments who also campaign for
his candidates while running his tournaments and while making pairings
and ruling on disputes.

38. Not satisfied with the fact that he already has a virtual monopoly
on big time cash prize money chess tournaments and he has such a lock
on the elections that almost all would-be candidates have given up
trying to run against him, Goichberg now is trying to avoid even
having to go to the trouble to run candidates for election by changing
the election rules so as to make it virtually impossible for anybody
not nominated by Goichberg even to get on the ballot.

39. In order to do this a “Governance Task Force” was created
dominated by Goichberg himself plus Goichberg sycophants Joe Lux and
Allen Priest. Joe Lux was made the Chairman. This “Governance Task
Force” was originally set up to try to address the problems created by
the fact that Goichberg had the USCF in his iron grip. A fatal error
was made by allowing Goichberg to serve on a committee which was
supposed to deal with the problems caused by Goichberg. Goichberg
proceeded to take control of the committee.

40. The result was a proposal by Goichberg to disenfranchise the
30,000 voting members of the USCF and to give control of the election
process to the 125 delegates. Since a high percentage of the delegates
are employees of Goichberg working as assistant directors in the prize
money tournaments held by Goichberg around the USA and all the
delegates from New York State are personally appointed by Goichberg,
this meant that Goichberg would virtually control who got on the
ballot. The original Goichberg proposal was that in order to get on
the ballot a prospective candidate would need to obtain the signatures
of 40 of the 125 delegates from 15 different states. Since Goichberg
holds tournaments in more than 15 different states and more than 40
delegates either work for Goichberg or are beholding to Goichberg and
since nobody else does this, this meant that Goichberg would decide
who got on the ballot.

41. At the USCF Delegates meeting in Irvine, California in August
2010, in response to objections to the Draconian Rules proposed by
Goichberg, Goichberg agreed to reduce the number to 25 delegates from
15 different states. Goichberg stated at a by-laws committee meeting
chaired by Goichberg sycophant Allen Priest that 25 delegates should
be required to sign because in the past some of the candidates had
been “rather poor”.

42. There were still grumblings about this so as the USCF Delegates
meeting held on August 7, 2010 in Irvine, California a motion was made
to require that candidates for election obtain the signatures of at
least 50 voting members of whom at least 15 must be delegates
representing at least 5 different states. The maker of this motion was
Allen Priest who himself was a candidate for election. This motion
passed with virtually no debate or discussion. Several delegates who
were present and who voted in favor of the motion have since stated
that they did not know what the motion was as it was not explained nor
was in announced in advance and they would never have voted for this
motion had they known what it was.

43. The by-laws require that there be a 2/3rds vote for any by-law
change, especially those not included on the advance agenda. This
by-law change was not in the advance agenda. No count was taken or
show of hands to see if the 2/3rds requirement had been met.

44. Since the election campaign was already underway and several
prospective candidates including Gary Walters were circulating the
meeting room asking delegates to sign their petitions, this by-law
change should not have taken effect until the next election cycle,
which will be in 2012. However, the Goichberg controlled USCF office
has allowed this by-law change to become effective retroactively so
that it controls the current election campaign which had already been
started before this by law change had been voted upon.

45. Prior to this change, in order to get on the ballot, a candidate
needed the signatures of 30 adult voting members of which there are
about 30,000. After this change, one needed 50 signatures of adult
voting members of which at least 15 must be delegates representing at
least 5 different states. With only 125 delegates assuming all the
positions are filled (which is not the case) this made it vastly more
difficult.

46. In spite of the extreme difficulty of meeting these vastly more
difficult requirements, Candidate Sam Sloan circulated petitions and
obtained the signatures of 90 members of which 70 ruled valid. These
70 signatures including 16 delegates representing 11 different states.
Thus Sloan easily met the requirements.

47. Nevertheless, Goichberg Stooge Bill Hall ruled that 4 of those
signatures were invalid and thereupon has kicked Sloan off the ballot.
Most of those allegedly invalid signatures are from the State of New
Jersey where Goichberg is persona non grata. The three New Jersey
delegates whose signatures were ruled invalid were former USCF
President Leroy Dubeck, Steve Ferrero and Aaron Kiedes. They also
invalidated the signature of Gary Alan Fine of Illinois and Eric
Johnson of Pennsylvania.

48. At the same time a member of the Goichberg Slate, Allen Priest,
did not have enough signatures even though Goichberg was going around
the North American Open where he was the director on December 30, 2010
(the day before the deadline) twisting the arms of delegates to get
them to sign for Priest. Bill Hall extended the deadline for the
benefit of Allen Priest and Gary Walters (neither of whom are
tournament chess players and are only candidates as a result of being
Goichberg stooges) by extending the deadline so that the petitions did
not have to be received but only mailed by December 31.

49. Candidate Sam Sloan has never to this day been notified that he
has been kicked off the ballot. Page 10 of the February Chess Life
states that nominating petitions have been received from five
candidates, Sevan Muradian, Mike Nietman, Allen Priest, Sam Sloan and
Gary Walters. However, the April Chess Life, page 11 only lists the
names and candidates of four candidates, omitting Sam Sloan.

50. Having eliminated one candidate by having his signatures ruled
invalid, Goichberg is now attacking the remaining non-Goichberg
candidate by stating that he is not “loyal” to the USCF because he
scheduled a chess tournament to be held on the same weekend as a
Goichberg tournament, the Midwest Class tournament. See
http://www.checkmate.us/muradian.htm

WHEREFORE, for these any other reasons more fully set forth in the
accompanying affidavits and exhibits, Plaintiff demands the following
relief:

1. An Order Restoring Sam Sloan to the ballot for the coming USCF election.

2. An order removing William Goichberg from the board and permanently
barring William Goichberg from holding any office in the USCF or from
running slates of candidates or influencing the results of elections
through post card mailings, websites and other means as long as he
continues to hold large cash prize big money chess tournaments for
profit associated with the USCF.


Respectfully Submitted,
Sam Sloan

Labels: , , , ,

3 Comments:

  • At Tuesday, April 12, 2011 10:02:00 AM, Anonymous Sloan supporter said…

    Goichberg is the biggest crook in the USCF. He should be forced to pay the legal bills from his own pocket. So do all his sycophants, especially Jim Berry and Randy Bauer. This is a racist and corrupt organization and the IRS should seriously audit the finances of the USCF and Bill Goichberg.

     
  • At Wednesday, April 13, 2011 9:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am in St. Louis Missouri in a public library across the street from
    the Saint Louis Chess Club.

    I came here for the US Championship.


    When the club opened at 3:00 PM the receptionist at the front desk
    welcomed me but a large man wearing a blue shirt asked me to step
    outside.


    When I got outside he addressed me by name showing he knew who I was.
    He then told me that I was not allowed to enter the club. When I asked
    him his name and by what authority he acted he would only say that his
    name was "Dan". He refused to give me a last name.


    He demanded that I leave the area and I refused, saying that I was in
    a public place. He told me that if I came back into the club I would
    be arrested. There was a uniformed police officer standing next to him
    who confirmed this.


    I asked some of the chess players standing outside. They said that
    they did not know his name either but knew that he was a security guy.


    I then played few five-minute chess games on the tables in front of
    the club but did not try to go back into the club.


    Later I say a number of chess grandmasters that I happened to know
    standing in front of the World Chess Hall of Fame across the street.
    So I walked across the street to talk to my old friends.


    As soon as I could do this "Dan" ran across the street and blocked my
    way. He demanded that I leave. I told him that I was standing in a
    public place on a public street and not bothering anybody. Therefore,
    I refused to leave.


    He called the police but it took an hour for them to come. When they
    finally came they told me that I must leave or they would have to
    arrest me for "disturbing the peace". I told them that I had not
    disturbed the peace or indeed done anything at all.


    Almost all the top grandmasters in the US were there but I do not
    think any of them knew what was going on as this security guy shooed
    them away when they tried to talk to me.


    After being threatened with arrest by the police I walked across the
    street to the library where I am trying this.


    I can only surmise that this has something to do with the lawsuit I
    filed against the USCF two days ago.


    Sam Sloan

     
  • At Sunday, April 24, 2011 4:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I now believe that the problem is 100% Goichberg. (I certainly never
    believed that before and I was the strongest supporter Goichberg had
    until he started attacking me.)


    Just consider the fact that the USCF was on a steady rise until
    Goichberg was first elected Vice-President of the USCF. In 1996, when
    Goichberg first took over, the USCF had nearly 90,000 members and more
    than $6.5 million in annual revenues. It reported surpluses and
    increases in membership every year.


    Since then, every year has been worse than the previous year. Every
    year since 1996 has reported a loss except for the one year that I was
    on the board. Annual revenues have fallen to less than $3 million and
    membership is now less than 70,000 and falling every year.


    I believe that the only chance to save the USCF is to win my court
    case filed in Sangamon County Court in Springfield Illinois and have
    Goichberg thrown out and permanently removed for USCF Governance.
    Goichberg will still be able to run his maga-chess tournaments with
    $300,000 in case prizes, but as an independent entrepreneur, not as a
    board member or President of the USCF.


    If we the members cannot get freedom from Goichberg, I like you do not
    see how the USCF can be saved.


    Sam Sloan

    Post by Sam Sloan on rec.games

     

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