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.