Judge Won't Block Malicious Bison FCU Website

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A state judge refused to block a malicious website created by a disgruntled former employee at Bison Federal Credit Union, ruling the ex-worker has the right to skewer the credit union on the Internet because of her constitutional right to freedom of speech.

But the malicious site, which proclaims "Bison Federal Credit Union SUCKS" opens the former employee and her husband, who helped create it, to a lawsuit for slander or libel by the credit union and individuals it names, the judge ruled.

The site, at www.servingwho.com, proclaims, "This site is here to answer the question: Why Does Bison Federal Credit Union Suck So Much?"

Suzon Putman, who resigned as teller at the credit union Jan. 13, said she and her husband posted the website after credit union officials unilaterally closed her account, forcing her to bounce checks to pay the mortgage, car loans, groceries and the drugstore, then applied her outstanding savings balance to pay her Visa signature loan.

"I was furious. I was really angry," said Putman, of her motive for the website. "We are exercising our first amendment rights and a lot of other peoples' rights to voice our opinion," she added.

"I hope to accomplish some changes at Bison," said Putman. "I want the board of directors to know what's going on and get involved in the day to day operations."

But Tony Thompson, president of the $22- million credit union, has denied Putman's allegations and said the credit union is concerned the website is attacking the credit union's credibility with its members and damaging its reputation.

The credit union, said Thompson, was also concerned about the safety of its employees and directors because of a threatening letter sent to the board by Bill Putman, Suzon's husband, and posted on the website.

The credit union's board was expected to discuss whether to file a slander or libel suit when the panel met last week, said Thompson.

Meantime, in an attempt to address some of the judge's concerns, the Putmans removed names from the site, including Thompson's and that of Chuck Mills, a board member, who ignored the negative publicity attached to the website and was elected mayor of Shawnee two weeks ago.

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