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Expert witness: Investigator led crusade against businessman

--- Cvicker suing retired investigator

Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published August 2, 2007, 4:39 p.m.)

A Whitewater man's business was doomed to fail regardless of police investigations, according to a recent court filing in a federal civil suit between the business owner and a retired Whitewater detective.

In May, Steve Cvicker, the former owner of a landscaping supply company, filed the opinions of an expert on police procedures and conduct. The filing also contained the opinions of a financial consultant who says Cvicker may have lost millions due to police investigations of his company.

In response, retired investigator Larry Meyer's defense filed the opinion of an experienced accountant Wednesday.

The accountant hired by Meyer wrote that Cvicker's claims of large monetary damages incurred are way off base, speculative and were comprised using "junk science."

Cvicker is suing Meyer, alleging Meyer's continued investigations of Cvicker, his landscaping business and its mostly Hispanic workforce constituted harassment and caused the business' eventual failure. The case is in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee.

Meyer "obviously had more than an objective, professional law enforcement interest in the activities of Steve Cvicker," wrote Dennis Waller, a police expert hired by Cvicker.

In his opinion, Waller said Meyer failed to objectively investigate Cvicker's now ex-wife because he allegedly had a personal interest in her and mounted "what appeared to be a personal crusade against Mr. Cvicker."

"This crusade, which can be likened to a personal vendetta, negatively impacted Mr. Cvicker's marriage, business and personal freedom," Waller wrote in a May 14 opinion.

Meyer's defense team did not list an expert witness to combat Waller's opinions.

Gilles P. Meurice, an expert financial consultant hired by Cvicker, says Meyer's investigation cost Cvicker between $600,000 and $2.3 million.

Upon reviewing most of the court documents filed in the case, Waller noted that Meyer didn't answer "a plethora of questions" during depositions, claiming there was still-ongoing investigations into Cvicker's activities.

"Surely it is reasonable to believe such claims have been resolved. Investigator Meyer's responses to those questions are anticipated," Waller wrote, noting his opinions could be amended upon reviewing additional information.

The police investigation caused no damage to the business, according to defense opinions.

Cvicker's business-SR Hardscapes and later, Whitewater Rock and Mulch-was failing in 2005, when much of the investigation took place, said John G. Peters, a certified public accountant, in a statement filed in Meyer's defense.

Meurice did not use all available resources to get a clear picture of the business' financial state, he said.

"SR Hardscapes, Inc. was an unprofitable and failing business in early 2005 with no value," Peters wrote.

There was no economic loss suffered by Cvicker as a result of Meyer's investigation, Peters wrote.

A settlement conference before a magistrate in June did not result in a resolution of the case, according to court documents. The case is continuing toward trial, which will likely be scheduled at an Oct. 2 scheduling conference.

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