News from the Louisiana Class Action Front: Prominent Lawyer arrested and charged in drug conspiracy case

This case has a little something for everyone. (h/t Mr. NAAS) The Baton Rouge Advocate tells the story of the arrest of William Hugh Sibley on money laundering and drug conspiracy. Looking at the people he is allegedly hooked up with the implications are stunning.

A Greensburg lawyer involved in several high-profile, class-action lawsuits has been arrested on charges he was part of a multimillion-dollar conspiracy since September 2002 to launder drug money for international cocaine traffickers, federal prosecutors said in court papers.

Federal prosecutors in Houston accuse William Hugh Sibley, 62, of Greensburg, of using bank accounts to hide drug proceeds and of accepting, counting and distributing drug proceeds for the ring that distributed “multi-kilogram” cocaine shipments, court records show.

The ring’s reach extended into Mexico, Venezuela and the United States and is headed by Alejandro Flores-Cacho, who remains at large, federal prosecutors in Houston said……..

Those four originally were named in a June 2007 grand jury indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Houston. Sibley was added in documents filed under seal May 29, 2008, but opened this year, court records show.

U.S. Marshals Service deputies in Baton Rouge arrested Sibley on Thursday in Greensburg on a single count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments based on a warrant from federal prosecutors in Houston, prosecutors in Baton Rouge said.

David Dugas, U.S. attorney for the Baton Rouge-based Middle District of Louisiana, said Sibley was released on a $100,000 bond Friday after a preliminary court hearing in Baton Rouge before U.S. Magistrate Stephen Riedlinger.

Sibley, who was ordered Friday to surrender his passport and aircraft pilot’s license, is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Houston at 10 a.m. Thursday, records show………..

Sibley, who is a graduate of LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, has been practicing law since 1971 and is a former assistant district attorney in St. Helena Parish, when he served as legal adviser to the parish Police Jury in the 1980s.

Sibley often has worked with teams of lawyers on litigation involving toxic emissions, products liability and plant explosions in state and federal courts that have sometimes ended with multimillion-dollar payouts. Some are still pending.

Cases in which he participated include the Exxon Chemical explosion in 1994 in Baton Rouge; the tank car explosion at the Gaylord Chemical Corp. plant in Bogalusa in 1995; a Canadian National Railway Co. derailment in Amite in 2002; and a gasoline pipeline leak in St. Helena Parish in 1997, court records say.

The 20,000 plaintiffs in Louisiana and Mississippi in the Bogalusa case alone got a share of $73 million from many, but not all of the defendants.

Of that amount, about 48 percent went to attorneys’ fees, costs of administering the settlement and other costs.

I was struck by the its a small world nature of the litigation Mr Sibley participated in as part of the Louisiana plaintiff’s class action team. Occasional slabbed commenter and blogger Robert Marie is a Mississippi based plaintiff to this litigation who remains unsatisfied with its outcome.

I’m also told Mr Sibley has garnered many political connections through time and his use to the class action team is akin to the political interference non-lawyer P. L. Blake ran for Dickie Scruggs. St Helena Parish is locally famous for having several elected sheriffs land in the pokey through time. I suspect Mr Sibley’s tenure as an ADA and adviser to the police jury was quite interesting as we continue the story:

The federal indictment does not name banks Sibley is alleged to have used to launder drug money or describe how much money Sibley handled.

Overall, however, the indictment spells out a series of financial transactions and cash drop-offs of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars across the southern and southwestern United States and in Panama.

In all, nearly $11.7 million in transactions and drop-offs are described as happening between October 2002 and August 2003 — at least one of which was ferried by jet and dropped off at the airport in Panama City, Panama.

In another drop-off, an unnamed person known to a Texas federal grand jury delivered nearly $1.2 million to another unnamed individual at Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner on Feb. 3, 2003, the indictment alleges. It is not clear how the money was transported.

Federal prosecutors in Houston disclosed last month that a defendant in a separate 2004 case, Jesus David Fernandez-Sanabria, pleaded guilty to money laundering for the ring.

He has agreed to testify against Sibley and the four other defendants named in the unsealed indictment from May 2008, records show.

Indictments charge someone with a crime formally but are not proof of actual guilt or innocence. If convicted, Sibley faces up to 20 years in prison, up to a $500,000 fine or a fine worth twice the value of the property involved and five years of supervised release, record show.

Sibley was arrested three weeks after another man named in the indictment, Ricardo Salazar, was picked up in southern Florida on May 8, court records show.

Given some of the commentary on the thread we did involving the recusal of Judge Haik in another class action case a fair question to ask at this point is the extent to which Mr Sibley suffers prisoner’s dilemma and whether he’ll roll up quickly like Ed Peters. We’ll be watching this case as it has the potential to become very interesting.

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7 thoughts on “News from the Louisiana Class Action Front: Prominent Lawyer arrested and charged in drug conspiracy case”

  1. Mr. Sibley was one of the counsel of record for the plaintiffs in the Haik class action case you posted. In connection with that same proceeding, Harrah’s Entertainment filed a petition of intervention seeking to claim Mr. Sibley’s share of the fees as he had previously assigned his fees from that case and others to Harrah’s for “loans” he’d received. Harrah’s was subsequently substituted by a law firm as the creditor. Maybe they thought it looked better for him to owe money to a law firm instead of a casino.

  2. Greed is a terrible thing! Mr. Sibley appears to be another “bloodsucker” brought to justice. It always makes my day when a corrupt lawyer is brought to account for their actions.

  3. Incredibly amazing. RE: Marie claims Marie v. Vicksburg, et al 251-98-1061 was concluded August 28th, 1998 specifically the Marie’s claims. Which although was prior to the failed 1999 trial 251-96-493 CIV. The clients of the failed trial are soon to receive either their third or fourth disbursements amounts as the Marie’s are continuously denied any relief from settlements had solely on their behalf.

    This matter has evolved into a hate crime of enormous political magnitude. With proven documentary and evidential conclusions in law, millions in settlements with repeated denials per any relief of civil right violations. Would any one know where a person could find a court of law interested in conducting its proper functions?

  4. The government has filed a motion to certify the case as a “complex case.” They want to push back the dates of motions, etc. because there are 5 defendants, approximately 180 consensual recordings, 770 individual transcripts, and a wire intercept that lasted 30 days that yielded 350 “pertinent” phone calls. They also say they have numerous documents regarding recordings, wire intercepts, and searches and siezures that make up the evidence. The government points out that all of this has to be provided to Sibley’s counsel, and the public defender representing one of the co-defendants, and that pre-trial briefing was scheduled to start on June 18.

    Think hard – did you have any contact in the last couple of years with Sibley where he introduced you to his friend, Ricardo?

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