Lawsuit targets trove of hidden SLO County IWMA documents

October 31, 2019

Carl Knudson


A private investigator who spent 23 years as an IRS special agent and whose work helped dismantle a Colombian drug cartel is suing San Luis Obispo County’s waste disposal agency and District Attorney Dan Dow to force the release of records that have been sought for more than seven years. [Cal Coast Times]

Carl Knudson, the private investigator, says that the defendants have been involved in an effort to conceal the contents of the records. Knudson’s attorney Paul Nicholas Boylan, from Davis, Calif., filed Knudson’s suit in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. The suit names the county’s Integrated Waste Management Authority and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney.

Knudson’s lawsuit asserts that the defendants’ conduct violates the state’s Constitution and the California Public Records Act. Because the IWMA is a government entity, the state’s public record act applies.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the agency to provide the requested documents.

Knudson came to San Luis Obispo following a libel suit brought by Charles Tenborg, an IWMA private contractor against CalCoastNews and two of its reporters. CalCoastNews began the first of a series of investigative articles about the IWMA, Tenborg and practices that they engaged in.

When the reporters sought IWMA records to be used in their defense, IWMA manager William Worrell claimed that most records prior to and including 2013 had been destroyed.

Charles Tenborg

After Tenborg won a $1.1 million judgment in 2017, a group of county residents hired Knudson to investigate Tenborg, the IWMA and the facts of the case.

Knudson also was retained to probe the finances of the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District. There, he uncovered what he believes to be evidence of wrongdoing by district officials, staff and a contractor.

In Knudson’s 10-month investigation of IWMA, he found significant evidence of unlawful use of public funds. One of his findings was that IWMA employees used an agency credit card for personal expenses, and that nearly a half-million dollars was unaccounted for.

Knudson also obtained extensive public records from state agencies in 2018 showing that Tenborg unlawfully filed false claims to CalRecycle for 17 consecutive months.

Tenborg was forced to reimburse the state and sign a statement admitting to the transgressions three weeks prior to the start of the CalCoastNews trial. Other documents showed an ongoing pattern of unlawful waste disposal practices by both the IWMA and Tenborg.

Knudson provided Dow with his reports and accompanying documents. Dow then contacted IWMA’s then-manager William Worrell to request IWMA records.

Employees of the IWMA quickly brought in a large shredder and destroyed hundreds, if not thousands, of documents pertaining to decades of questionable financial transactions and private spending by the agency, according to former IWMA interim administrator Michael Giancola. Agency officials also authorized and carried out the deletion of voluminous computer records.

Giancola responded by ordering a forensic accounting for the agency’s many computers.

IWMA Administrator Bill Worrell and legal counsel Ray Biering listening to allegations of misappropriation of funds

When CalCoastNews reported extensively on the unfolding revelations, the IWMA board asked for and received Worrell’s early retirement. Then the board – comprised of 11 county and city elected officials –  voted to retain an independent auditing firm to perform a “deep forensic audit” of the agency’s records. Subsequently, David Walls provided “one or more reports” to IWMA officials, according to Knudson’s lawsuit.

Additionally, a computer expert, Steve Burgess, managed to recover “some or all of the lost data” and provided that information to the IWMA.

In Nov. 2018, reporter Karen Velie made a public request for grant applications made by the IWMA.

Months after the 10-day period that agencies have to respond to records requests, IWMA staff said Velie could pick up the documents. But before her arrival, IWMA staff called back to say investigators from the  district attorney’s office had looked at the documents. The DA investigators asked if they could have them and directed the IWMA not to give reporters the documents, IWMA staff said.

Dow subsequently told Velie that he gave no such direction to the IWMA.

Shortly before the end of 2018, Knudson made a request for IWMA records of the computer forensic audit and the financial audit. A month after that and without getting the records, Knudson asked where the records were. IWMA staff said, first, that they were still working on gathering records, and subsequently that they could not find the reports.

In July 2019, Velie told IWMA staffers that their refusal to provide the records that she and Knudson requested amounted to a violation of the Public Record’s Act. Shortly after that, IWMA staffer Patti Toews said the records both Velie and Knudson requested would be provided to them on thumb drives.

Toews is the sole staffer to remain following CalCoastNews’ reporting. She has said she had no knowledge of the agency corruption which surrounded her.

When Velie arrived at the IWMA offices in August, Brook Stayner, the agency’s new manager, said that Jeff Minnery, IWMA’s attorney, and the District Attorney’s Office had asked that he not provide the records. Even so, Stayner provided records of the grant applications, Velie said.

Later in August, an IWMA staff member told Knudson the records he sought could not be found. On the same day, Stayner wrote in an email that the IWMA had given the records to the District Attorney’s Office. The IWMA did not keep a copy, Stayner wrote.

Knudson was incredulous.

“It defies logic that they would spend tens of thousands of dollars for that computer forensic work and not keep a copy for themselves,” Knudson said. “What was the purpose of doing the research if you were not going to use it.”

Among other demands, the lawsuit seeks a peremptory writ of mandate ordering the respondents to immediately provide all of the documents Knudson sought.


What I think is funny; and it’s also at the state and national leval, is how many people here voted for Dow who now cry wolf, or Parkinson, or any of these corrupt politicians, whom will cry “witch hunt” at these truthful accusations of corruption, and draw out this crap in court on my; and my family and neighbors dollar? I see people here who represent a populous whom got these people elected, and most likely will RE elect them. I sure as hell didn’t vote for anyone stated in comments or articles above.


Funny as it may seem it ain’t no laughin’ matter….

You can track this type of corruption all along the byways and highways of this country, affecting almost all the cities and towns along it’s way, and ending up right inside our National Capital. It’s called quid pro quo, or “something for something”, or what the White House is now describing in their alternative facts policies as politics as usual and we all should just “get over it”!

While I’ll take somewhat the high road on this and recognize the good that all seem to reject this in their hometown it’s still very disturbing, and relative to this article, how they can at the same time stand silent when our highest form of government, ruled by the Party of Trump The Pervert, can do this with impunity and without one bit of opposition from it’s own. How can that be?

Y’all believe in trickle down economics, right? How ’bout trickle down bullshit as well? Just askin’…


You make a perfect illustration of why this can’t be corrected, to wit:

The previous White House administration sent its Vice President, Joe Biden, to Ukraine to make sure that country removed a prosecutor who was investigating a company that employed said Vice President’s son. In exchange for firing this prosecutor, Ukraine received American tax dollars. Absolutely, as you say, quid pro quo.

Along comes the current administration, which attempts to investigate this corrupt behavior by this previous high government official (the previous Vice President). The administration trying to stop the corruption is excoriated in the press and in the halls of government. The crimes of the previous administration must remain covered. To bring them to light threatens the power and livelihoods of bureaucrats everywhere, so they go to great lengths to bring down those who would bring them to justice.

Yep,you’re right, the same tactics have trickled down to little SLO County. Even if we elect people who try to fix this, they will be dragged through the mud and ruined before justice can be served.

Thanks for the insight.


UH NO, Paul Manafort worked for the previous Ukraine president, who jailed the elected president on bogus charges, THIS IS tied to Trump directly, as trump was paid 150k for speaking on the previous now ousted Ukraine president hiding in Moscow. Obama administration sanctioned the hell out of Russia for starting a war in eastern Ukraine, stop with your conspiracy theories. Yes Bidens kid made a shilling off a corrupt business, but he was not involved in GENOCIDE, now with US Trump loving Russia, help and election rigging via propoganda, hacking and “Right wing fake news”. Hey CCN ADMIN, how bout some Fking fact checking sensorship on LIARS here spreading Russian disinformation. Yeah Obama was a Capitolists and played the game of war, greed etc. But stop your fake news TV BS Hazmat. People sacrifice their life for the truth on pennies, not millions as TV pundents. You thought Nixon was bad, or Clinton, you have no idea how big this swamp was, it’s an ocean. But Imperialism has always caused death of innocent. And your way the fk off topic with your conspiracy shit. I felt like fact checking you. Listen to some PBS, or watch Vice or NPR, Time etc coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russia racist, trolling propoganda and influence in US elections. And bud, get off the TV.


Don’t bother oldtimer, this one has not only drank from the kool-aid he or she has succumbed to the lure of alternative facts…

In the past I would have debated with such illusionists with facts and data but to no avail, now I realize that if the obvious hasn’t convinced them, then how can I?

Take heart though, the smoke is getting less and less dense as the fire has become a raging inferno sure to enlighten even those with such misplaced resolve.


Add this to your list oldtimer (an if you haven’t seen it, do so! It’s a frickin’ eye opener)…

“Active Measures” –


You know I wasn’t gonna even dignify what you say with a response but after a good nights sleep, something rare for me, I thought “What the hell”, so here goes…

The “whatabouism” you use in justifying the current Pervert in office actions is both comical and so full of holes it would sink in a teaspoon of water. The prosecutor you speak of, the Ukrainian one, a Viktor Shokin, was fired for not only his leniency towards corruption but direct involvement with those who perpetrated that corruption. He was viewed upon by the EU as the one of the biggest reasons for continued corruption in that country. He and his fellow prosecutors were referred to as the “diamond prosecutors”. (a) So in following those fact based assertions why the hell wouldn’t you want this guy investigating Hunter Biden if you had something to hide, and conversely why have him fired only to have someone appointed that would investigate and probably uncover whatever it is you’re implying Humter Biden did, if in fact he did anything at all illegal? It don’t hold water outside of the alt-fact crowd.

I could get long winded about this and bring Rudy Giuliani into the conversation, and Paul Manifort, along with some very new reporting that this obvious quid pro quo of July 25th wasn’t the first time that the Pervert used “something for something” as leverage with the Ukrainian government for his political and personal gain.

What VP Biden did wasn’t in his best interest, it wasn’t used to manipulate an election, it wasn’t a nefarious act meant to harm this country and our system of government in any form or fashion, in fact is was to protect us! Those tax dollars you speak of were meant to be partly used for the purpose of running down and eliminating the generational corruption of that country, so why in the hell would you want to give tax dollars to a country who’s lead prosecutor is “Diamond Victor” the best friend of corruption in that country?

I know this is way off topic, and I hope I get some leniency here, but I do think it’s important to the fact that so much of this is just sheer bury your head in the sand denial, somehow excused by party, or person, affiliation. Give that shit a rest! If you don’t, the type of corruption you see in your local government will not only remain, it will fester into a disease that will consume SLO (if it already hasn’t) leaving its citizenry in a bipartisan cesspool!



Your smoke and mirrors are dense and fast moving. The problem you have is these pesky facts keep coming back to bite you in the butt. Facts such as:

Hunter Biden was employed as a corporate counsel for Burisma. He was paid $50,000 per month.

H. Biden had no apparent qualifications to be counsel for an international oil and gas firm.

Oh, wait, he did have ONE qualification. He was the son of the US Vice President.

The rest of the facts are listed above.

Talk about putting your head in the sand. Whistling past the graveyard, you are. Nothing to see here. These are not the droids you are looking for.

Good to see you and Adam working together, once again, here on the CCN comment boards.


“Hunter Biden was employed as a corporate counsel for Burisma.”

Well you started off strong but with that one line you sank your own argument.

Hunter was not hired as a corporate legal counsel, he was on their board. His role as a board member was to give them legal advise, he was a lawyer after all, graduated from Yale, so he was qualified to do that, right? He was also there to give them corporate financial advise, he was after all an executive vice president of a bank, MBNA, so he’s qualified to give that type of advise, right?

What are the qualifications of being a sitting member of a corporate board there Hazmateer? Do you have any idea? The qualifications are very different for every board and are not necessarily held by those with direct qualifications to the corporations business. Mostly it has to do with your leadership skills, your integrity and yes the doors you can open.

Paul Ryan, remember him? He now sits on the board of Fox News, what’s his qualifications to do so?

John Boehner, remember him, now sits on the board of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis grower! Now really, what qualifies him to be on that board when he was one of the biggest blockades to legalizing cannabis?

Leon Panetta, remember him? He sits on the board of Oracle, what qualifies him for that position?

Those three I listed are there partially for the power and influence their names provide, to possibly open doors that would otherwise be closed.

Let’s talk about qualifications in the here and now, shall we? No, not about board members, but about positions within the [not so] White House. Probably could be considered as a board member in a very broad sense though, right?

How is Ivanka qualified to be senior advisor to the Pervert? Other than being the Pervert’s daughter what qualifications does she have?

How is Jared qualified to be a senior advisor to the Pervert? Other than being the Pervert’s son-in-law what qualifications does he have?

I’ll leave you with that….


Now we have people posting feeling based lies subverting from topic, must be Dan Dow or Parkinson named Hazmateer.

Kenneth S

I now have no doubt Mr. Dow is a coward, liar and covering up, if he thinks he will be in a higher office in the future he is wrong. He is a Dirty DA.


A sign of government gone bad is a refusal to give out documents. Instead of blaming Dan Dow, I put the blame on the IWMA and those the documents expose, and also the IWMA attorney Minnery. Remember who the heads of the IWMA board have been, Adam Hill, John Shoals, Jeff Lee, and Bruce Gibson, the leaders in county corruption.

The courts have been very pro-transparency lately. Maybe not our courts, but there are always higher courts. I believe Knudson will get to the bottom of this no matter how many public officials attempt to stop him.


“Instead of blaming Dan Dow…”

Dan Dow is being sued because he is to blame, Cindy.


Personal note to Bill Worrell, Charles Tenborg, Ray Biering, and James Wagstaffe… How do you like it now?

Jorge Estrada

Next question, Can the public afford the truth????

what the

Dan Dow is named in the lawsuit because he ordered the destruction of the documents. Dan Dow is the corrupt county official’s attorney, not the people’s.


Dow may not have “ordered” the document destruction, but he certainly allowed it, probably encouraged it, by telling the IWMA criminals that he’d be mosyin’ down, oh, one of these days, to get those documents.

Kenneth S

Dan Dow is indeed corrupt, this current inner office sexual affairs with his married staff and impregnating at least one female staff member whom Dan Dow promoted she just recently had the baby and the father is Dan Dow’s buddy, Andy Cadena who ran and lost for a judgeship.

As this matter is now being probed by CalBar, Grand Jury and the AG’s Office someone needs to go to jail ? Mr. Cadena and Mr. Dow


Dan Dow did not order the destruction of records, he is listed because the IWMA staff is claiming his office said not to give the records. We will learn the facts, or the story given, in court.


JordanJ, you seem like you have a good head on your shoulders. Listen up. Dan Dow made a call to the IWMA office. The members of the IWMA then immediately began destroying all evidence. Now, do you think if Dan Dow told them to get the files ready for him to pick up they would have destroyed them? And if they had acted against his orders, would he let it go? Or would a legitimate DA make arrests for the destruction of public property and evidence of severe financial crimes? Dow’s lack of action against the massive list of felonies is black and white. And yes, he illegally and immorally ordered that all evidence be kept from the public. Dow is clearly in deep.

Erik T

Do you have any idea how bad ass the Colombian drug cartel was? Dan Dow and the IWMA/Adam Hill cartel may have pissed off the wrong fellow. This episode ought to be good.


Great news! Can it be that we can finally get to the truth about this shameful episode and those who were involved in it?


I’d like the know what they have on Dan Dow the prevent him from arresting Bill Worrell and Charles Tenborg for the multiple felony counts that have been proven, documented, and handed to him. Felony fraud, felony embezzlement, mishandling of hazardous waste, and enough counts of felony perjury to put someone away for decades. Dan Dow, you have exposed yourself as one of them and it sickens me to know they own you.


Wow! And wow! Corruption has saturated this county and is oozing out of the pores.