Solar Contractor Wants Apology; Threatens City With Defamation Suit

Tom K. Wu, chief executive officer of Invaleon Technologies Corp.

Tom K. Wu, chief executive officer of Invaleon Technologies Corp., at his Ward Hill warehouse. (WHAV News photograph.)

The head of a Ward Hill company, identified by a Haverhill school committeeman as having worked with a potential felon on a solar power project, has given the city until Wednesday to apologize or else face a defamation lawsuit.

Tom K. Wu, chief executive officer of Invaleon Technologies Corp., said he “challenges and refutes” comments made last Thursday by School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey.

“It paints a very bad picture for our company and our employees, which they reside in Haverhill, (have) kids in Haverhill, and when these kind of allegations get out, it’s damning for the business and also for the people that work for the company,” Wu said.

Invaleon, doing business as Invaleon Solar Technologies, was established in North Andover during 2011 and moved to Haverhill last October. Invaleon worked with MassAmerican Energy, the designated developer of a proposed Haverhill High School solar project, on a rooftop array above its rented space on Parkridge Road. It was that association Toohey condemned.

“I do have a problem with a company that’s less than six months old, that has relationships, and my students are on the roof or doing business or communicating with someone who’s pled guilty to a felony,” charged Toohey. The school committeeman said the project came to his attention when he saw a photograph of Haverhill students with Invaleon’s principals at the Ward Hill site.

Toohey, School Committee President Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello and Committeeman Scott W. Wood Jr. all voted in June against allowing MassAmerican to proceed with a 2.2 megawatt project atop Haverhill High School. Toohey publicly denied he is seeking “political payback” for Committeeman Sven A. Amirian’s January vote against returning him to the school committee. Amiran is also a MassAmerican employee who worked on the high school project before being elected last fall.

In its reporting last week, WHAV did not identify Invaleon or its employee, who agreed in a 2012 consent order with the Secretary of the Commonwealth not to sell unregistered and unexempt investments. The employee joined Invaleon last October. Wu, in an interview at his office Monday, gave WHAV explicit permission to use his company’s name.

Wu added he is “disappointed” Mayor James J. Fiorentini allowed Toohey’s comments to be made when Invaleon was not present to defend itself. Wu said he sent a letter to David Van Dam, Fiorentini’s chief of staff, Friday, around noon. In the letter, Wu asked for a “recantment” of Toohey’s statement and an apology from either the city, school committee or Toohey himself. Wu said he managed to reach Toohey Friday by telephone and expected a call back which has not yet happened.

Invaleon’s chief said his company is not working on the high school project.

“We’re not under contract. We have no intention on bidding on the project as a subcontractor. We really want nothing to do with it,” Wu said.

He said he gave the city a deadline of Monday afternoon to apologize, but extended it to Wednesday. “If nothing is given to us, we will follow with suit,” Wu said. City Solicitor William D. Cox, however, said he told Wu the city is exempt from defamation claims under the state’s Tort Claims Act.

Invaleon originates, engineers, designs and builds solar project for residents and businesses.

WHAV was unsuccessful in reaching Toohey for comment.

3 thoughts on “Solar Contractor Wants Apology; Threatens City With Defamation Suit

  1. To falsely claim that someone committed a crime or moral turpitude is libel per se.
    Toohey seems intent on proving we did the right thing when we rejected his candidacy in the first place.

  2. Mr. Wu….I’m confused. Defamation is the harming of one’s reputation or character. Did Mr. Toohey say anything about the admitted felony consent order that wasn’t factual? Toohey’s job is to protect the best interests of Haverhill Public Schools its students. He didn’t do anything wrong.

    Maybe in the future Mr. Wu you should do a better job of vetting your employees. Logic dictates that although you may have no problem with felons representing your company, your potential customers may. If you are going to hire admitted felons at least have the common sense not to put them in situations with the public and customers that will compromise your business interests.

    • Truth is a defense in any defamation/libel suit.

      After reading the consent order, I don’t know if the guy was a conman or had no clue as to the securities industries, it doesn’t say. It could go both ways, although promising returns like 7% for the equivalent of widgets was a stretch.

      In any event, the solution is to not use the sub, which is what this guy was. If we’re going to put a standard on work within the city, it should be EQUAL for all. Of course, whether it be this city or state, cronyism and nepotism, along with pay-to-play is all that matters. So maybe if they find the right donor, who cares if they’re a felon, The City of Haverhill has lots of experience in that realm.