Bonneville Pacific wants a federal judge to overturn a bankruptcy judge's decision last week to put a trustee in charge of the bankrupt company.

Meanwhile, FBI officials were scheduled to meet Tuesday with Bonneville Pacific executives as part of an ongoing investigation into the company's former officers and past transactions.The IRS and Securities Exchange Commission also are looking into Bonneville Pacific. Agents from all three federal agencies have met to discuss the investigation.

Bonneville Pacific president Clark Mower contacted the FBI in March after discovering that former Bonneville Pacific officer John T. Dunlop may have misused company funds.

Mower said he has met several times with the FBI and the company is cooperating fully in the investigation.

Bonneville Pacific's current management is not involved in any allegations of wrongdoing by previous officers or the subject of federal investigations, Mower said.

Trustee Roger Segal's power is already being felt at the company. Bonneville Pacific management issued a press release Monday afternoon announcing its move to have the trustee's appointment overturned.

But two hours later, after meeting with Segal, the company asked the news media to withhold the release, calling it premature. Bonneville Pacific attorney David Leta said that Segal wanted a say in any public statement made by the company.

Bonneville Pacific lawyers have asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John H. Allen to stay Segal's appointment while their appeal of that appointment goes forward in federal court. A hearing on that matter was scheduled Tuesday afternoon before Allen.

Bonneville Pacific executives may not be able to save critical corporate assets if a trustee interferes with their negotiations, the company said in papers filed with the court.

The company is at a critical point in the renegotiation of a $15 million overdue loan with Chase Manhattan bank, the sale of an $11 million waste facility and settlement of disputes involving two power projects, an airline company and a fuels company.

Delay in any of those negotiations could cost the company considerable money, Mower said in a sworn affidavit.

But the appointment of Segal means delay. As trustee, Segal must approve all company transactions. He will not likely approve any until he has researched them himself - a timely task for a company as specialized as Bonneville Pacific, the company says in its appeal.

The company further contends that Allen violated federal law in appointing a trustee without notice or hearing.

Bankruptcy examiner Alan V. Funk reported to Allen two weeks ago that former principals in Bonneville Pacific are likely guilty of fraud.

Without commenting specifically on Bonneville Pacific, former U.S. Attorney Brent Ward explained the mechanics of a fraud investigation.

Current U.S. Attorney David Jordan has declined to comment on the case in keeping to Department of Justice policy.

"A fraud case is one of the most difficult to prove," Ward said. Even when the government can prove the allegations, prosecutors must usually rely on complicated documents that don't appeal to juries.

In allegations of criminal fraud, the FBI usually leads out on the investigation in conjunction with other agencies, he said.

The investigation can take more than a year to complete, depending on how vast and complicated a company's transactions are.

If the government wants documents or witness testimony that company officials will not give, the government must get a grand jury's permission to subpoena the desired information, Ward said.

In putting a fraud case together, the government must prove several things. First, it must show that suspects had an intent or a scheme to defraud. The suspects must then either lie to investors or leave out important facts in an attempt to defraud investors. The suspects must use either the mail or make calls to other states to carry out their scheme.

Without the use of the mail or telephones, the federal government would not have jurisdiction of the case, Ward said.

If all those elements are present, the U.S. attorney asks a federal grand jury to hand up an indictment against suspects. He makes his case for indictment before 23 grand jurors, relying on witnesses and documents as he might at a trial.

If 16 of the 23 grand jurors vote in favor of the indictment, charges are publicly filed against suspects, Ward said.

Even after charges are filed, more than a year can lapse before white-collar cases go to trial, Ward said.

Federal judges often grant extensions in such cases to give both sides time to prepare the complicated case.


(Additional information)

Corradini sends letter to supporters

Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini sent a letter last week to her main supporters during last year's campaign, assuring them she never defrauded Bonneville Pacific Corp. The letter is similar to one released to the media last week. In it, Corradini tells supporters she is a victim of the company's bankruptcy, just like other stockholders. She asks them to withhold judgment until she has a chance to read and respond to allegations in court reports.