Commissions Blown on Kickbacks, Firm Says

     DALLAS (CN) – A former consultant for the Salvation Army sued First Choice Power, claiming the power company owes it commissions that it paid instead as kickbacks to the (nonparty) charity and its officers.
     Dallas-based telecommunications company Nucentcom sued First Choice Power in Dallas county Court. Nucentcom claims it was the Salvation Army’s telecom consultant until 2010.
     Nucentcom says it signed a sales commission agreement with Dallas-based First Choice and helped First Choice land the Salvation Army as a customer for 132 meters.
     Nucentcom claims the contract was worth more than $1 million a year and covered 10 times more meters than First Choice previously had under contract with the charity.
     Beginning in the fall of 2010 Nucentcom was paid commissions under the agreement, but it says it does not know if the amounts are accurate because First Choice refuses to produce the underlying data. First Choice agreed to pay half a cent per kilowatt hour sold to the Salvation Army, according to the complaint.
     Nucentcom claims those payments stopped in March 2011 and that days later, First Choice and the Salvation Army discussed renewing their contract.
     “One subject of the discussion was diverting Nucentcom’s commissions to the Salvation Army or individual officers of the Salvation Army,” the complaint states. “The basis for this allegation is an email dated April 24, 2011, in which Dan Schilens, an FCP employee, writes that Dan Pandithurai, the CFO of the Texas Salvation Army had asked whether FCP can stop paying Nucentcom and pay the commissions to the Salvation Army.”
     Nucentcom claims that email was followed by the payment of cash kickbacks to the Salvation Army and one of its officers. It claims that after First Choice terminated the commission agreement, FCP paid a $50,000 kickback to get new contracts for hundreds of additional meters and help in squeezing out Nucentcom.
     Nucentcom claims First Choide also paid retiring Col. Henry Gonzalez $5,000 after the Salvation Army “informed FCP that continued goodwill” required the donation.
     Nucentcom claims that the electricity rates the charity agreed to for its most recent confirmations are higher than market prices were at the time.
     “The Salvation Army has agreed to these above market contracts because it continues to receive ‘donations’ from FCP to the Salvation Army itself and its individual officer,” the complaint states.
     Nucentcom seeks damages for breach of contract.
     It is represented by Richard Hunt with Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr in Dallas.

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