When do Lying and Deceit Rise to the Level of Criminal Behavior?

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High Standards and Clear Values Form the Foundation of Leadership

This link is to a page on the PG&E web site where PG&E professes its commitment to high standards and values. Statements include:

"We act with integrity and communicate honestly and openly"
"We are accountable for all of our own actions"


Does repeatedly lying to homeowners in order to coerce them into yielding to PG&E sound like honest communication? Do threats and intimidation sound like integrity?

PG&E sent representatives onto our property, they walked into our own back yard and stood on our land, where they proceeded to bully us, to intimidate us, and to lie to us, blatantly and repeatedly, in order to coerce us into acting in a way that we clearly did not want and that was contrary to our best interests. PG&E's aggressive claims that night aside, there is as yet no clear evidence that PG&E actually holds the clear rights over our yards that it claims. However, even if PG&E does indeed have the right to force us to clear our yards, federal guidelines recommend compensation. We should certainly be given the opportunity to verify PG&E's rights and to pursue the question of compensation. The lies and intimidation by the PG&E representatives, made to us while they were standing on our land, were designed to convince us that we deserve no compensation at all, to convince us that we have no right to challenge PG&E, and to convince us that we have no other course of action available other than to simply concede immediately by signing a paper that they claimed PG&E did not really need, which grants PG&E a right that they claimed it already possesses.

PG&E claims on its web site that it is accountable for all of its own actions. We believe that PG&E should be held accountable for its unethical actions in this case, and that it should be held accountable for its failings.

Not being lawyers, it is difficult for us to find the specific statutes against this behavior. Perhaps it is:


17500. It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, or any employee thereof with intent directly or indirectly to dispose of real or personal property or to perform services, professional or otherwise, or anything of any nature whatsoever or to induce the public to enter into any obligation relating thereto, ..., or in any other manner or means whatever, including ..., which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading, ...


Does this apply in our case? PG&E representatives clearly, purposefully, and repeatedly lied to us. Their goal was to dispose of our personal property and to coerce us against our will into entering into an obligation without compensation.

How about:

CAL. PEN. CODE § 422.6 : California Code - Section 422.6

It is illegal to use intimidation to take control of our land that is not warranted in the easement agreement.


Either way, this certainly seems to fall under the topic of fraud:

What is Fraud

For example, consider California Civil Code Section 1709:

California Civil Code Section 1709

"One who willfully deceives another with intent to induce him to alter his position to his injury or risk, is liable for any damage which he thereby suffers."

According to this definition, repeated and blatant lies designed to alter our positions, to our injury, seem to constitute fraud.

Other civil codes also seem to apply, including 1710 and 1572.

California Civil Code Section 1572, defines an "actual fraud" as follows:

California Civil Code Section 1572

Actual fraud, within the meaning of this Chapter, consists in any of the following acts, committed by a party to the contract, or with his connivance, with intent to deceive another party thereto, or to induce him to enter into the contract:
1. The suggestion, as a fact, of that which is not true, by one who does not believe it to be true;


Even if it were to end up being determined that PG&E is within its rights, its lying to homeowners, repeatedly and purposefully, in order to coerce us into acting against our wills and our interests, seems to satisfy the definition of fraud in the state of California.

Does PG&E behavior in this case really seem at all consistent with the commitment to honesty and integrity that PG&E professes on its web site? Does PG&E behavior in this case really seem at all consistent with society's expectations of acceptable corporate behavior under any circumstances?

Does much of the PG&E behavior that we citizens have seen and have been exposed to in recent years reflect even the minimum standards of behavior that we as a society are willing to tolerate? How egregious will we the citizens of California allow PG&E behavior to become before we step in and say that enough is enough? California simply cannot tolerate such behavior from such an important public corporation. We citizens should no longer continue to tolerate the current business practices or the current ethical climate of PG&E.