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O.C. judge hears arguments in fight over Minuteman Project

March 22, 2007|Jennifer Delson | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County Superior Court judge heard arguments Wednesday about who should control the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, and attorneys said they expect a ruling within a week.

Jim Gilchrist, who co-founded the group, is seeking a temporary restraining order after three board members attempted to oust him in January amid allegations of financial mismanagement. They took over the Minuteman's website and bank accounts.

At one point in the proceedings, Judge Randell L. Wilkinson suggested that Gilchrist work out the disagreements with board members through mutually trusted intermediaries.

But Gilchrist, who denied the allegations against him, said he could not be an ally of people who have filed complaints against him with the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service.

"I gave a long leash to people, and they got carried away with power," Gilchrist said. "I really question their motives."

Gilchrist, 58, of Aliso Viejo, said the three board members who voted to remove him held only honorary positions and wielded no voting power. Documents show Gilchrist set up the Minuteman Project as a Delaware corporation in 2005 with only one voting board member, himself.

Attorney Jim Lacy, who represents the three board members, said Gilchrist publicly identified his clients as being part of the board, a necessary move to expand oversight and keep the corporation's tax-exempt status. He said it was not necessary to file a document indicating new board members.

"We're willing to do whatever it takes to preserve the Minuteman Project," Lacy said. "This is all about Jim Gilchrist and his ego."

jennifer.delson@latimes.com

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