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By Stephen Lemons
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By Monica Alonzo
By New Times
Colapinto also scoffs at what he says is APS' attempt to shift its culpability to the company's lawyers.
In the August 11 press release, De Michele blasted APS' attorneys, the high-powered Phoenix law firm of Snell & Wilmer, for "not providing relevant documents during the discovery phase of the Saporito case." The documents, a set of employee r‚sum‚s with Warriner's handwritten notes on them, indicate that the supervisor singled out Saporito for elimination from among dozens of contract employees whose working agreements with APS were up for renewal. Snell & Wilmer, however, only presented a set of unmarked r‚sum‚s to the court and defense lawyers.
Snell & Wilmer, Arizona's largest law firm, quickly issued a defensive press release of its own, claiming that the documents were eventually submitted to the judge and that the firm had made only a momentary error.
Nevertheless, De Michele hinted that APS might break with Snell & Wilmer--which has represented the utility for more than 40 years and was founded by Phoenix patriarch Frank Snell, who also helped create APS in 1952. Snell's son, Richard Snell, is currently president of the APS board of directors.
Colapinto expresses disbelief over the official APS version of the lawyers' "mistake."
"I know how thorough a law firm Snell & Wilmer is," he says. "They are equipped with vast resources. It is almost inconceivable that they could overlook or not know about documents like that.
"And if they knew, APS knew, too. This implicates a lot of other people in perjury--including, possibly, the lawyers."
That possibility will be examined by NRC investigators, who reportedly plan to question Snell & Wilmer attorneys during their Phoenix visit, as well.
Whatever the outcome of the NRC probe, it is clear that De Michele's corporate catharsis was for public relations purposes only. Despite the apologetic admission that an APS employee had violated whistle-blower protection laws and then lied to a federal judge about it, APS has brazenly announced its intention to appeal the ruling against it in the Saporito case.
The Washington, D.C., law firm Newman and Holtzinger, retained by APS to handle the Saporito matter after the tiff with Snell & Wilmer, plans to ask the judge who found in the worker's favor to reverse his decision--claiming that Saporito lied on his original job application and thus has no right to sue the utility.
The NRC does have rules that require employees to list all of their past jobs on applications at nuclear power plants. Saporito admits violating the letter of the rules, which were implemented during the Cold War to ensure that workers hadn't been employed by Communists--or, in the 1990s, to guard against employee association with terrorist-linked companies.
But the jobs Saporito says he inadvertently left off his Palo Verde application weren't with the Wobblies or the PLO--but with a few small hotels, where he briefly worked as a repairman.
If APS is successful in persuading the judge to toss out the suit on this technicality, Saporito will face a double loss--not only will he be robbed of compensation for the costs of his two-year legal fight, but he could be banned from working in the nuclear industry for life.
"This tells you a lot about APS' sincerity level," Colapinto says. "They made a big show of owning up to the harassment.
"But the harassment goes on.