Woman Demands Cut of Minutemen Settlement

Group's leader Jeff Schwilk says it's 'pathetic attempt to shut down the group'

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|  Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 3:36 PM PDT
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Woman Demands Cut of Minutemen Settlement

A federal court battle may be ramping up over who will get a cut of a $157,500 settlement.

The San Diego Minutemen are poised to receive $157,500 in a settlement with the California Department of Transportation.

The Minutemen sued Caltrans after the agency revoked its permit to pick up trash along a 2-mile section of Interstate 5 that includes a major U.S. Border Patrol immigration checkpoint near San Clemente.

Now, two weeks after a settlement deal was announced, a woman who won a large judgment in an unrelated case against the leader of the Minutemen wants a cut of the money and a federal judge may decide whether she can claim it.

In May, a North County jury found that Joanne Yoon, an opposition activist, was defamed in e-mails and on a web site and that Jeff Schwilk, the Minutemen founder, had aided and abetted in the defamation.

Yoon's attorney, Daniel Gilleon, contended in court documents filed Monday that Schwilk is the actual beneficiary of any money that comes to the San Diego Minutemen. And, Gilleon said, since Schwilk owes his client money, the CalTrans settlement should go to her.

But Schwilk's attorney, Howard Kaloogian, said Yoon can't have that money because it does not belong to Schwilk ---- it belongs to the San Diego Minutemen.

Schwilk echoed the sentiment, and said he keeps the Minutemen money separate from his personal funds.

"There is no way (Gilleon) can make the claim that the group is Jeff Schwilk and vice versa," Schwilk said. "This is just a pathetic attempt to shut down the San Diego Minutemen."

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