SDCOE board members
Mark Anderson, Susan Hartley, Lyn Neylong, Gregg Robinson and Sharon Jones
continue to protect Diane Crosier's secrets.
SDCOE managers Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava sued
Scott Dauenhauer for blowing the whistle
Daniel Shinoff of Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz is one of Diane Crosier's favorite
lawyers, both in her job as a director of risk management for SDCOE and in her
personal life. Dan Shinoff represented Diane Crosier and Daniel Puplava in their
personal defamation suit. SDCOE itself, as a public entity, is not allowed to sue for
defamation. It has come uncomfortably close to doing so, however. See SDCOE's
bizarre involvement in the defamation lawsuit by Shinoff's law firm against Maura
Diane Crosier produced some strange pleadings in this case.
Instead of producing proof that she and Dan Puplava were innocent of the
allegations, she merely claimed that Scott Dauenhauer didn't actually know
he was correct when he made his allegations.
She seemed to think he wasn't smart enough to form any conclusions. He
certainly had enough information, including documents, to convince
reporter Jeff McDonald.
Apparently Scott (and Jeff) are smarter than you imagined, Diane. Maybe
the truth was evident to them (and others) and it's just your wishful
thinking that nobody knows it.
Tentative Ruling April 9, 2010
1. Breach of Contract--Defendants' motion for summary adjudication is granted.
2. Breach of Implied Contract (against Furtado)--Defendants' motion for summary
adjudication is granted.
3. Misappropriation of Trade Secret--Defendants' motion for summary adjudication is denied.
4. Statutory Libel--Defendants' motion for summary adjudication is denied.
5. Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage
Defendants' motion for summary adjudication is denied.
6. Misappropriation of Name--Defendants' motion for summary adjudication is denied.
April 9, 2010 tentative rulings in SDCOE Fringe Benefits Consortium's
Puplava, Crosier lawsuits against advisors
|San Diego Education Report
Scott Dauenhauer and Barry Alred discovered that Dan Puplava was getting
hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single year from financial firms he did
business with as head of the San Diego County Office of Education Fringe
Benefits Consortium. The situation was exposed in a San Diego Union-Tribune
article by Jeff McDonald:
Daniel Lee Puplava, Registered Principal of Escondido,
Misappropriated signature guarantees on client's forms
Puplava’s non-registered assistant had access to his signature guarantee stamp...
to approve securities business-related transactions and paperwork that required a
signature guarantee stamp...Puplava did not take back his signature guarantee
stamp or take steps to otherwise secure the stamp to prevent its misuse. ..
The findings also stated that Puplava had customers sign blank securities
business-related forms, including non-brokerage change request forms,
mutual fund transfer forms and securities account forms, and retained
these forms in his customer files contrary to his member firm’s prohibition
against this practice.
Ironically, SDCOE attorney Dan Shinoff sued Barry Alred and Scott
Dauenhauer on behalf of Diane Crosier and Dan Puplava for defamation for
private emails discussing whether Puplava's dealings were ethical.
Clearly, citizens have a right to discuss the appropriateness of actions of
public officials, Mr. Shinoff extracted settlements without the truth ever
coming out in a trial.
San Diego County Office of Education and its directors were protected by Judge
Styn from a public accounting of money paid directly to Dan Puplava by financial
institutions he dealt with as director of the public Fringe Benefits Consortium. How
about it, Mr. Puplava? Why don't you tell us how much of the $355,000--if any--you
gave to other brokers?
Jeff McDonald noted in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
"In 2006, Puplava collected at least $355,000 in commissions as a broker for
AIG Financial Advisors Inc., according to documents obtained by The San Diego
"He was named to the 2008 Achiever's Council, an honor reserved for agents of
AIG Financial Advisors whose commissions and fees exceed $250,000 a year.
"His attorney said Puplava shared that money with other brokers."
In fact, SDCOE never produced any evidence to contradict the
overwhelming evidence produced by Scott Dauenhauer of personal
enrichment by SDCOE employees.
SDCOE's Diane Crosier refused to produce public records to a local
Ironically, Daniel Shinoff argued in the Michael Robertson v. Del Mar
Unified School District case that public officials' emails on public email
accounts should not be divulged.
SDCOE wants everyone to keep his mouth shut about what goes on in the
SDCOE business office. If you see corruption in a public entity, don't count
on whistle-blower laws to protect you.
SDCOE never produced any evidence to contradict the overwhelming
evidence of personal enrichment by SDCOE employees produced by
whistle-blowers in 2009.
SDCOE managed to silence critic Scott Dauenhauer through a defamation
lawsuit that they fought (with taxpayer dollars) until Scott couldn't afford to
keep paying a lawyer. SDCOE forced him to settle and be quiet.
The public never saw any evidence that
and/or Dan Puplava
had actually been defamed.
If any such evidence existed,
I imagine SDCOE would have
Luckily for SDCOE, Voice of San Diego
seems to have decided to protect Diane Crosier
and Dan Puplava by getting rid of its education
reporter Emily Alpert.
Dan Puplava: Helping Teachers to
downloaded Sept. 2, 2013 from Dan
Dan Puplava is a strong believer in
education. He knows that an education is a
priceless thing, and that teachers work
tirelessly to impart knowledge and to change
lives. As hard as teachers work, however—
and as much good as they render within our
communities—our teachers are sometimes
forgotten. This is especially true when it
comes time for them to retire; surprisingly,
the retirement options available for teachers
are often incomplete, and are certainly not
always as much as these civic servants
Enter Dan Puplava. A long-time financial
planner, Puplava is no mere finance guy. He
is an educator in his own right, showing
public school teachers how they can
sufficiently prepare to retire. For teachers
throughout San Diego County,Imperial
County, and Riverside County, the good work
done by Puplava has yielded remarkable,
Read on to learn more about this man. Learn
about his career in financial planning, and
the work he is doing now. Find out for
yourself why Dan Puplava is not only a friend
to teachers but a real advocate for them
throughout the San Diego, Imperial, and
Where He is Today
We might begin with a summary of his
current activities. Puplava was hired by the
San Diego County Office of Education in
1997. His task, from the get-go, was to help
develop, design, and implement a Financial
Planning Program made to assist educators
in mid-career financial planning. In the
course of doing so, Puplava conceived and
designed a new educational delivery system
on how CALSTRS defined benefit program
was going to be delivered to the educator at
the San Diego County Office of Education.
Puplava accomplished this by using
technology and teaching them the real
fundamentals of their retirement plan. His
supervisor at the time, Dr. Terry Ryan,
received praise from his colleagues for
Puplava’s style of delivery and out of the box
thinking. He is effectively doing the same
thing even today, helping teachers
understand the fundamentals of their
retirement planning but he also includes
CALPERS in his presentation.
Puplava has long worked in the field of
financial planning. He has a wealth of
experience in life insurance, for example. He
has a CLU (Certified Life Underwriter)
Designation NASD Series 7, 24, 65, and a
California Life License. In addition, he has
served as a columnist for the business page
of the Times Advocate. He has written
numerous well-received articles on the topic
of financial planning, primarily for educators
and public employees.
His list of achievements goes on from there.
Puplava cultivated the first 403(b), 457, and
401(a) Group Pension plans for multiple
school districts in the country, on behalf of
the San Diego County Office of Education
through the Fringe Benefits Consortium for
42 local San Diego school districts. He
developed these retirement options with
input from the IRS, ensuring total compliance
It is difficult to overstate what Puplava
ultimately achieved with the development of
this program. His retirement savings options
have led to spectacular savings on behalf of
educators, who now have options for
avoiding high commissions and sales
charges and without any surrender charges
or penalties. His retirement program has
proven so successful, in fact, that the IRS
has actually worked with him on the initial
development of his Idea. The IRS coached
him with all of the problems that they had
been running into during IRS audits of school
districts regarding compliance for the 403
(b). He even had several discussion with the
IRS regarding the new 403(b) reg’s that
recently came out in 2008.
With the Fringe Benefits Consortium
Currently, the man is running his retirement
program through the Fringe Benefits
Consortium, specifically its Deferred
Compensation Program. The FBC Deferred
Compensation program works alongside
such prestigious organizations as the NTSAA
and ASPPA, providing full transparency
regarding all fees and costs associated with
the FBC approved vendor list for the 403(b).
He said that they have already sent out new
sharing agreements for the vendors to sign
that request information regarding fee’s and
commission, he hopes this will be up and
running by mid 2013. Dan also said that this
information is long over due for the educator
and that is FULL DISCLOSURE. What Dan
Puplava and the FBC are doing on behalf of
local educators is unparalleled, anywhere in
Seminars and Workshops
All of these achievements are impressive in
and of themselves, but what Dan is really
known for are his educational workshops. He
has spent years delivering and fine-tuning
these financial workshops, in San Diego,
Riverside, and Imperial County. They include
his Comprehensive Financial Planning
workshop as well as seminars and
workshops focusing specifically on the
His most recent workshop, focusing on
current economic trends, is called “The
Coming Federal and California Debt Time
Bomb.” The workshop has proven well
received among those who have participated
in it. For example, Dr. Ed Brand, current
Sweetwater Union High School District
Superintendent, says “Mr. Puplava’s
economic foresight has helped many.”
Outside the Office
It warrants a mention that this man is not only
interested in numbers—and indeed, though
he is passionate for helping educators to
retire, this is hardly his only passion. He is
also an avid football fan, rooting for the
Florida Gators and a couple of Arizona
teams, as well as the 49ers. He also
coaches high school football, something
that brings him ample pride and enthusiasm,
Puplava said he can think of no other reward
as a coach than seeing a young man grow
into a chapion for life.
Dan Puplava: Work with the FBC
We have provided a sort of birds-eye view of
Dan Puplava and his various activities. Now,
we might turn to focus on one of those
activities more narrowly—specifically, his
work with the Fringe Benefits Consortium
Deferred Compensation Program. Read on
for a few comments about what this
organization is all about.
The FBC at a Glance
The FBC Deferred Compensation Program
was designed to help educators. Serving
member districts in San Diego County,
Riverside County, and Imperial County, it is
essentially a retirement program, conceived
to assist educators as they build their
savings and seek to enjoy the retirement of
That there is a need for a program like this
speaks to the relative lack of options that
otherwise exist for public school teachers.
Indeed, though private vendor offering 403(b)
plans and retirement options do exist, most
of them are very costly, at least in these
counties. Often, the different fees,
commissions and penalties are simply too
high—and as a result, educators have lost
millions of dollars over the years!
Puplava and his associates believe that this
is wrong, and that there is a better, nobler
way to treat our educators. These are public
servants who devote their lives to informing,
inspiring, and changing lives, yet retirement
savings accounts often steal money from
their pockets. Puplava, through his work with
the FBC, is seeking to remedy that.
Through all of this, we see a few important
traits on the part of Dan Puplava. For one, we
see that he is a man who cares deeply about
education. Not only does Dan Puplava work
tirelessly on behalf of educators, but he also
serves as a financial educator himself.
Additionally, he is devoted to excellence in
financial planning. Dan Puplava provides
superior retirement savings options to
individuals throughout his area through the
FBC Deferred Compensation Program at the
San Diego County Office of Education.
- See more at: http://danpuplava.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
Feckless, hapless, clueless
Handling of county schools
conflict of interest is
March 29, 2009
In the grand scheme of things, the
San Diego County Office of Education
is something of an obscure bit player.
It provides administrative support to
local school districts and runs
continuation schools for students with
This fringe status, however,
does not excuse it from having to
meet basic standards of good
That absolutely hasn't happened
in the case of Daniel Puplava,
who manages the office's
retirement program while also
working as a private broker who
sells investments to administrators
and teachers served by the
This is prohibited,
according to a 2008 opinion
from the state Attorney
But even with such an opinion, it is
obvious that this is an unacceptable
conflict of interest.
While a full-time school office
employee, Puplava lined up fellow
government employees for his
private brokerage and used his
government phone as his primary
Randolph Ward himself bought an
annuity from Puplava shortly after
Ward began work in 2006.
Now Ward is refusing to answer
questions on the matter.
Board trustees John Witt
and Mark Anderson also are
Trustee Sharon Hartley says it's
much ado about nothing, evidently
concluding that the county schools
office is not answerable to Attorney
General Jerry Brown.
Board President Sharon Jones
pretends she's not allowed to
comment on the matter because of
Only trustee Jerry Rindone shows the
appropriate level of dismay.
A respected high school principal and
Chula Vista councilman before being
elected to the county schools board,
Rindone understands this isn't how
government is supposed to work.
That doesn't hold for Ward, Witt,
Anderson, Hartley and Jones. Their
“what, me worry?” approach is an
"These days [Dan
Puplava] runs a 403(b)
devised for San Diego
County’s Office of
April 25, 2005
unions is ubiquitous
with 403(b)s, says
Puplava, who sold
California when it was
run by Nationwide.
“When I did work at the
union, I had to pay for
tables, provide door
prizes and dine labor
people to market in
territory,” he says. “I
felt like a whore.”
"These days he runs a
403(b) plan he devised
for San Diego County’
s Office of Education..."
[Blogger's note: From
what I know of
SDCOE, it's deeply
corrupt. What's worse
is that it is part of
Taxpayers have no
they want to or not.]
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Dan Puplava of Fringe Benefit Consortium (San Diego
County Office of Education) Accused of Wrongdoing
Dan Puplava, Deferred Compensation Manager of the San Diego County Office of
Education's Fringe Benefit Consortium 403(b) and 457(b) plan evidently has been
earning commissions from product sales to employees and participants of San Diego
County (as well as Riverside and Imperial Counties).
According to the San Diego Union Tribune article
"In 2006, Puplava collected at least $355,000 in commissions as a
broker for AIG Financial Advisors Inc., according to documents obtained
by The San Diego Union-Tribune. He was named to the 2008 Achiever's
Council, an honor reserved for agents of AIG Financial Advisors whose
commissions and fees exceed $250,000 a year."
This is an interesting article and a case that warrants further attention from
participants and authorities.
"Puplava's work as a broker also appears to have been done
at county offices. Client statements obtained by the Union-
Tribune list Puplava's phone number at the county schools
office as his primary contact.
“It certainly strikes me as an apparent conflict of interest,” said Ronald F. Duska,
director of the Mitchell Center for Ethical Leadership at The American College in
Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It just sets up incredible temptations for the guy who's supposed to
be acting as a manager.”
The conflicts of interest that exist when a fiduciary of a plan is also selling
products are huge and its clear that this should be examined further. The
article states "The arrangement does not appear to violate federal securities laws,
but it tests the limits of the state education code and has become one of the main
sticking points in litigation involving the office."
The article goes on to say "Running an outside business is legal for full-time county
Office of Education employees. But according to the California Department of
Justice, a deferred compensation program manager is supposed to be a
neutral party – not someone who profits from marketing financial products.
“The statute prohibits school employees from acting as sales
agents for 403(b) vendors in return for commissions,” according to
an August opinion from the Attorney General's Office analyzing the
state's education code."
The reporter found documents linking AVIVA (a purveyor of fixed annuities for 403
(b) plans) commissions with Puplava as well:
"Court papers also say Puplava negotiated a deal with Aviva Life and
Annuity Co. that paid him 30 percent of all commissions the partnership
received from Aviva. In 2006, Puplava personally collected more than $26,000 in
Aviva commissions from February to October, the cross-suit says."
Puplava denies wrongdoing but has refused to go on the record, this blog has
invited him to refute in writing any and all allegations against him. We have extended
an offer to allow him to submit his rebuttal in writing and we will not edit it.
Puplava has also had his attorney send this blog (and its editor) a threatening letter
to remove all links to the San Diego Union Tribune article. Click on the link above to
be taken to the article.
by Scott Dauenhauer CFP, MSFP, AIF
San Diego Union-Tribune expose of Dan
Benefits manager’s work questioned
County employee also acted as a broker
By Jeff McDonald
San Diego Union-Tribune
March 17, 2009
A San Diego County Office of Education employee tasked with
managing a retirement program for thousands of teachers and
administrators supplemented his salary for years with
commissions on outside investments he sold to those same
Daniel Puplava makes $100,000 to $108,000 a year as the
deferred compensation manager for a consortium that serves
public educators in three counties. At the same time, Puplava
has been allowed to pursue those clients for his private broker
In 2006, Puplava collected at least $355,000 in commissions as
a broker for AIG Financial Advisors Inc., according to
documents obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune. He was
named to the 2008 Achiever's Council, an honor reserved for
agents of AIG Financial Advisors whose commissions and fees
exceed $250,000 a year.
His attorney said Puplava shared that money with other brokers.
Officials at the county schools office said they knew about
Puplava's broker business and saw no conflict of interest
because he has done the work on his own time.
“It's not unheard of for public employees to have a business on
the side,” spokesman James Esterbrooks said.
The arrangement does not appear to violate federal securities
laws, but it tests the limits of the state education code and has
become one of the main sticking points in litigation involving the
Puplava's work as a broker also appears to have been done at
county offices. Client statements obtained by the Union-Tribune
list Puplava's phone number at the county schools office as his
“It certainly strikes me as an apparent conflict of interest,” said
Ronald F. Duska, director of the Mitchell Center for Ethical
Leadership at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It just
sets up incredible temptations for the guy who's supposed to be
acting as a manager.”
Puplava, who is 47 and lives in Escondido, declined to be
interviewed. His attorney, Randall Winet, responded to
questions with a March 6 letter to the newspaper stating that
Puplava has divested himself of his personal clients and
received only a portion of the commissions cited in documents.
“The funds from financial services companies were paid directly
to him, which he then was required to distribute to a number of
brokers working for him,” the letter says.
Winet also said Puplava had “a significant, thriving practice
prior to ever joining the County Office of Education.”
Puplava is a registered broker for SagePoint Financial Inc. in
Phoenix, which until recently was called AIG Financial Advisors.
His full-time job is to manage the deferred compensation
retirement program for the Fringe Benefits Consortium, which
provides access to health insurance, annuities and other
services for school employees across San Diego, Riverside and
The consortium was created in 1982 to help school employees
negotiate better deals on health insurance by pooling
Twelve districts representing 2,500 or so teachers initially
joined the self-insurance partnership, but the client roster grew
to 72,000 as the consortium attracted more districts and
expanded its services.
When the Office of Education hired Puplava in 1997, he was
permitted to keep his “book of business,” or private clients,
county schools officials said.
Puplava also was allowed to grow his client base by soliciting
teachers he met through his county job.
Four years after his hiring, the county schools office was among
the first agencies in the country to organize an umbrella
retirement program for teachers, who as public employees
receive government pensions but often supplement those
benefits by setting up individual investment accounts.
The idea was to give teachers the opportunity to buy
investment products without paying the high fees and
commissions normally associated with individual transactions.
Puplava was put in charge of the deferred compensation
program. He contracted with outside financial advisers to
promote the services, and together they hosted hundreds of
informational seminars outlining the various products and
About 6,000 teachers and administrators have bought
supplemental investment products offered through the deferred
Consortium director Diane Crosier said that after a new
superintendent was hired in 2006, a decision was made to allow
Puplava to keep existing clients but restrict him from accepting
new teachers and educators as customers. But by then, even
incoming Superintendent Randolph Ward had bought an
annuity from Puplava.
Running an outside business is legal for full-time county Office
of Education employees. But according to the California
Department of Justice, a deferred compensation program
manager is supposed to be a neutral party – not someone who
profits from marketing financial products.
“The statute prohibits school employees from acting as sales
agents for 403(b) vendors in return for commissions,” according
to an August opinion from the Attorney General's Office
analyzing the state's education code.
Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Service doe allows
public and nonprofit employees to pay into tax-deferred
supplemental accounts to boost their retirement nest eggs,
much like 401(k) programs in the private sector.
Former employees and independent advisers say the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Puplava's
dealings. Crosier said the SEC has looked into Puplava, but
that was more than a year ago and nothing has happened.
The San Diego County District Attorney's Office requested
copies of related civil case files but closed its investigation in
July after finding no evidence of criminal conduct.
The SEC and the District Attorney’s Office declined to discuss
the situation, as did Ward.
In August, the consortium terminated the contracts of six
brokers who had been enrolling and serving clients for years.
Three weeks later, the schools office sued those brokers,
claiming they had stolen clients and business from the
The brokers fought back, filing a 26-page cross-complaint last
month that lodged numerous allegations against Puplava,
Crosier and county schools office officials.
Among other things, the cross-complaint says Puplava opened
a partnership with three of the fired advisers – Barry Allred,
Christopher Dougherty and Michael Zeiger – that operated as
FBC Insurance Services.
The partners shared tens of thousands of dollars in fees and
commissions paid by FBC clients, the cross-complaint alleges.
Court papers also say Puplava negotiated a deal with Aviva Life
and Annuity Co. that paid him 30 percent of all commissions the
partnership received from Aviva. In 2006, Puplava personally
collected more than $26,000 in Aviva commissions from
February to October, the cross-suit says.
Citing the ongoing litigation, Crosier declined to address
specific allegations, including why Puplava was permitted to sell
his clients financial products not available under the consortium
when the fired brokers were sued for the same activity.
“There are huge inaccuracies in that lawsuit,” Crosier said.
Kris Kertzman, who worked as a consortium broker from 2002 to
2007 but is not part of the pending litigation, said Puplava's
clients think he “has their best interests in mind because he
works for the county.”
“He's getting paid a salary by the taxpayers to manage the
registered representatives, not to be a registered
representative,” Kertzman said.
You'll see several photos like this one
on Mr. Puplava's website
|“The statute prohibits school employees from acting as sales
agents for 403(b) vendors in return for commissions,”
--Attorney General of California