Tim Whitmer has a new attorney – oh, by the way, a JP School Board member testified before federal grand jury

FOX 8 confirmed that former CAO Tim Whitmer has a new attorney. Whitmer replaced former district attorney candidate, Ralph Capitelli with well known criminal attorney Pat Fanning. Whitmer’s insurance business is what started the federal investigation into Jefferson Parish government.

The big story on Fox 8 was Jefferson Parish probe widens to school board and we’ll get to that after we take a look at Whitmer’s new attorney – and, to think, only a few hours ago I passed on Searchhound’s suggestion because I’m just learning my way around Jefferson Parish.  However, Capitelli rang a bell and with help from Google®, I learned the bell it rang was Perdigao v Adams&Reese. ” Capitelli represented casino owner Robert Guidry, who pleaded guilty to bribing…[former Louisiana Governor Edwin]…Edwards in exchange for a riverboat license.”

Mr. Fanning was one of Capitelli’s supporters when he ran for District Attorney.  Capitelli also had the support of Harry Connick, Sr., and, like everything thus far in the unfolding story of Jefferson Parish, there’s a connection there.  Actually, there’s also a connection to Perdigao.  Fanning represented former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial:

…when federal authorities subpoenaed Morial’s billing records as part of a sprawling probe, the law firm obstructed justice by leaving key information out of its responses and turning in some records that had been “modified,”…[Perdigao’s]…suit claims.

Morial’s lawyer, Pat Fanning, said that Morial “didn’t handle cases with Jamie Perdigao. He never met the man in his life. I can’t imagine how Jamie Perdigao can be commenting on how Marc conducted his business at Adams and Reese.”

Fanning’s connection to Connick is a little closer and for that story, we go to the July 29, 1990, edition of the New York Times:

The longtime District Attorney of New Orleans, Harry Connick, was acquitted today of Federal charges that he had aided and abetted an illegal gambling operation. The 12-member jury deliberated for six and a half hours in Federal District Court here. Three other defendants in the case were found not guilty…

The Justice Department had accused Mr. Connick of helping a Louisiana bookmaker…[Walton Aucoin]… run his business by returning copies of betting records seized in a police raid on Dec. 4, 1988. The bookmaker, Walton Aucoin, and two of his business associates were found guilty.  Mr. Aucoin’s lawyer, Patrick Fanning, a former assistant United States Attorney and former assistant District Attorney…was also acquitted today.

Now for the Fox8 story:

A Jefferson Parish school board member visited a federal grand jury today. Mark Morgan says the feds are interested in a post-Katrina contract with a Metairie-based company.

In the days right after katrina, morgan authorized “certified cleaning and restoration” to clean-up several westbank schools.  The school board refused to pay the entire $5 million dollar bill saying it was excessive and unreasonable.

The board eventually settled a lawsuit. Morgan says the FBI questioned him on Wednesday about the contract and the company’s owner Danny Haag.  Morgan says it’s unfortunate that he is now involved with the ballooning Jefferson Parish scandal.

The parish received the same subpoena and also returned documents to the grand jury today related to the red light camera project as well as employment records for several current and former employees. Most of those employees worked in the parish attorney’s office…

“When you’re involved in politics any time you, the word FBI and U.S. attorney gets mentioned it’s hard. Even if all you’re doing is appearing as a witness as to where an investigation might go and there’s not an allegation against you the public tends to see you being on TV and interpret that as having done something wrong but again, i’ve been ensured by investigators there is absolutely no allegation that i’ve done anything wrong,” Morgan says.

Morgan says Certified Cleaning and Restoration was referred by Jefferson Parish officials who hired the company to do work at the Yenni building.

Thanks to comment from SLABBED reader jpgoodfella, we know more about the story:

…This was a political move against Morgan and Certified got caught in the middle. The ensuing lawsuits cost the taxpayers dearly.

There was an allegation of overcharging, but the rates are set by industry standards. Many national and International subcontactors were involved in getting the jobs done quickly. This was one of the first restoration jobs in the city, and was run by professionals. I would assume the rates were high compared to other jobs because they were done at set rates which later got driven down as more and more competitors arrived in town.

Angered by the political moves of Roussel and others, Certified did not settle out like many other contractors and move on to the next disaster.

Katrina was an “ill wind” that continues to blow our minds.

14 thoughts on “Tim Whitmer has a new attorney – oh, by the way, a JP School Board member testified before federal grand jury”

  1. I am skeptical of anything Morgan has to say. It looks like he is ready to throw Certified under the bus to deflect any attention on him. Mark Morgan is the guy that went nuts on a parent that questioned the JP magnet school system. There is something weird about that guy.

  2. justice4nola, at the moment, there’s something “weird” about most everything in Jefferson Parish – but IMHO, I didn’t think he was trying to throw anyone under a bus as much as he was trying to avoid being hit by the one that’s rolling through the Parish.

  3. Lets go back in time to Katrina. The Yenni bldg. did not flood, but took extensive roof damage( A/c’s blew off) which let water in from the 10th floor down. The council offices are on the 10th floor. When the councilman looked at the mess in their offices, they wanted action. In steps Certified Restoration, a local company in fire and water restoration business.
    Certified is a member of all the national restoration associations. Certified makes a few calls and is assured that the cavalry is mobilizing. Certified signs the Yenni bldg., and within days has workers crawling all over it (LVI) and tons upon tons of A/C from huge generator fired tractor trailers pumping into the bldg., mitigating the loss.
    Certified hires a disaster project management firm as project managers and LVI( the largest restoration firm in the country) for skilled labor.
    The Yenni bldg. is a buzz of activity. Mark Morgan is looking for someone to jump on several very hard hit schools in his district. At this time, New Orleans was still under water. Morgan jumps at the chance to sign up with Certified. Certified has LVI bring in more resources and remediates the schools in time to bring the students back.
    Fast forward, and the bills come due. Now, insurance and FEMA are paying, but the School Board and Parish say the bills are high. Also, they are none too happy that Mark Morgan put his name on the dotted line. Forget the fact that the jobs were done swiftly and professionally. They refuse to pay. Lawsuits. Certified and LVI reach an agreement with the parish and the school board.
    Fast forward again, and Certified and Morgan are in front of a grand jury, because of the mess in JP.
    I can tell you Certified and Mark Morgan had no relationship prior to this job.
    This will all amount to nothing, but it is still very important. Why?
    Jim Letten’s methodology is to start from the fringes and work his way in. What you are witnessing is the very beginning. Morgan and Certified are Letten’s weakest case. The feds are hoping to shake them up and see if they can get Morgan or Certified to roll on the real players. But the Feds are barking up the wrong tree.
    Letten will continue to press forward with each issue picking up steam and cooperating witnesses as he goes along. (Ever wonder why the Mefferts aren’t in jail yet?) Buckle up you chinstraps, the big game just kicked off.

  4. Would love to go back in time, goodfella, as I’ve got a couple of questions. In one of the first comments you made here, you wrote:

    “There was an allegation of overcharging, but the rates are set by industry standards. Many national and International subcontactors were involved in getting the jobs done quickly. This was one of the first restoration jobs in the city, and was run by professionals. I would assume the rates were high compared to other jobs because they were done at set rates which later got driven down as more and more competitors arrived in town.”

    //slabbed.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/heated-meeting-of-jefferson-parish-personnel-board-with-parish-attorney-has-aha-moment/#comment-11664

    Since over 80% of restoration contractors use Xactware, are those the “industry standards” that Certified used?

    If not, do you know what set of “standards” Certified used and if LVI used the same “industry standards” to price its work?

    Also, do you happen to know what insurance company was involved that shared the cost with FEMA and what judge/court heard the case?

    Your points are well taken and I appreciate having the bigger picture you provide. Thanks!

  5. Chigh, was the firm involved in the lawsuit that Certified filed re payment for work on the schools?

  6. Nowdoucit, I wish I could answer your questions, but I can’t. I’m afraid you probably have forgotten more about insurance than I have ever known.

  7. Being a Franco-American and presently in the company of my friends of a similar heritage, deBrief and Placide, we have come to a similar conclusion that our ancestors acted upon: Enough is enough ! That we, the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish should have their own “bastille” day on July 14th of this year, and rally en mass to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with this irresponsible Parish government both at the Yenni Building and the WestBank Governmental Complex.

    As a historical reference, ‘the march on the Bastille, a symbol of the hypocrisy and corruption of France’s political system, marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The lasting significance of this event the recognition that power was not to be held by the King but by the people.’

    Human political history is a constant of what has transpired in the past and now being experienced in the present. Not unlike the citizens of France then, the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish are the victims of an arrogant and greedy class of political elite, whose sense of entitlement appears to be equal to that of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Our marches would signify the beginning of a legitimate taxpayers’ revolution which can be accomplished by voting in greater numbers to exceed that of any political machine’s family, friends and cronies.

    Robespierre, writing “On the Principles of Political Morality, 1794, and addressing the Citizens and Representatives of the People, in part, shares with his countrymen a vision of hope:

    “We wish in our country that morality may be substituted for egotism, probity for false honour, principles for usages, duties for good manners, the empire of reason for the tyranny of fashion, a contempt of vice for a contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, magnanimity for vanity, the love of glory for the love of money, good people for good company, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for tinsel show, the attractions of happiness for the ennui of sensuality, the grandeur of man for the littleness of the great, a people magnanimous, powerful, happy, for a people amiable, frivolous and miserable; in a word, all the virtues and miracles of a Republic instead of all the vices and absurdities of a Monarch.”

    The above sentiment represents ideals that all citizens of Jefferson Parish should strive for; and ideals that our political leaders should govern by. Then and only then would the mission professed by our government have true meaning:

    “Provide the services, leadership, and vision to improve the quality of life in Jefferson Parish.”

    Pelican…Placide…un verre de Rebel Yell s’il vous plait…ca s’arrose…a l tienne

  8. I don’t think Pat Fanning does, or ever has, worked for Grant & Barrow. His brother Mike does.

    Jack Grant, who is married to recently retired Judge Jo Ellen Grant, has been the JP School Board attorney for decades; nice gig. One of the private law firms for which Mark Morgan worked was in the building right next door to Grant & Barrow on Huey P. Long Ave. in Gretna. Half a block down the street is Wilkinson’s private law firm, which lists several asst. parish attorneys on its sign out front. All of these are within pissing distance of the 24th JDC courthouse and the Westbank govt. complex.

  9. It is Mike Fanning as well as a Geigenheimer that work for G & B. They represent the school board, school and the superintendant. There is an impotent legal compliance section that the taxpayers also pay for, but it is G&B that carrys the heavy load. Why so many family members stepping all over each other in JP? How is it possible to run a fair government with such neoptism?

  10. Pat has worked for Grant and Barrow. Not sure if he still does but I know that after Katrina he moved over there. I know this because my particular case dragged on for 3 years and he was my attorney.

  11. Did you see this mornings paper? Morgan and Roussell are at it again. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/05/arthur_lawson_intervenes_in_di.html

    As Yogi Berra would say, “Its Deja Vu’ all over again.” Last time these two were fighting, a local businessman (D. Haag of Certified) was caught in the middle. Mr. Haag had to pay attorney’s to collect his money. Mr. Haag also got a grand jury subpoena out of Morgan and Roussell’s squabbles so he got to pay even more attroneys to defend himself. The taxpayers just picked up half the tab for the attorneys in that one.

    This time around its the Gretna Police in the middle of another Morgan vs. Roussell squabble. The modus operandi is the exact same. Morgan possibly overstepping his bounds with Roussell’s supposed approval. Then Roussell tries to hang Morgan with the rope she either gave him or he took. The school board has already hired a private attorney to investigate on the taxpayer’s dime. Soon enough Lawson (any relation to Jimmy?) will hire attorneys and this time the taxpayers get to pay for both sides.

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