Like everything else Jefferson Parish even this post is tangentially related to the River Birch Landfill so before we talk 2010 I find it helpful to set up the players, both the public faces and the ones behind the scenes so let’s set the dial on the way back machine to 2008 and visit with Jefferson Parish Councilman Byron Lee and his charity, The Jefferson Sports and Scholastic Foundation courtesy of Meghan Gordon and the Times Picayune:
In defending his public support of a nonprofit he created, Jefferson Parish Councilman Byron Lee said the money he doles out from a West Bank landfill settlement represents but a sliver of the Jefferson Sports and Scholastic Foundation’s revenue.
“The amount of funding that this organization has received is a fraction of what they have received from other resources, ” Lee said at a recent Jefferson Parish Council meeting, pointing to federal grants and individuals’ donations while explaining the group’s worthiness to receive the settlement payments.
Public records show that a longtime parish contractor has also helped the Gretna nonprofit by giving it adjudicated properties the company bought at steep discounts from Jefferson Parish. Now the charity faces potential liens from the parish for not paying a blight fine a year after an inspector twice cited one of the properties for overgrown grass.
This is rich for a couple of reasons the foremost being Gordon’s report has all the rats assembled in one neat package as we put the proverbial Gretna Mentality on full display. Beyond that I sense greed and stupidity as the puppet master manipulates his puppets. The question in my mind is did the puppet master find a bagholder, a way to squirrel away future value or both? For those keeping score the answer to that question was “both” in the case of the Ward family and their River Birch Landfill after they bought the land in Waggaman from Carlos Marcello in the late 60s. How ironic that cash from the accommodation paid the Parish by the Wards as part of the lengthy landfill opening/permitting process ends up in Byron Lee’s charity. Let’s continue on with Gordon’s report and reveal the puppet master:
Atlantic Investments LLC donated eight tracts in Bridge City to the sports foundation, six in May 2007 and two in May 2008. The firm is owned by Larry Sisung, whose Sisung Securities company is frequently hired by the Parish Council for financial advising, bond underwriting and other services.
Lester Dunn, Lee’s campaign treasurer and director of the foundation, said he doesn’t know how Atlantic Investments took a liking to the charity.
“They had some properties that they were trying to donate, and I welcomed the donation, ” Dunn said Tuesday.
The sports foundation planned to put the properties on the market and make a small profit to pay for programs such as summer camps, after-school tutoring and computer lessons. The soft real estate market, however, has made that plan difficult.
“They’re still in our possession, ” Dunn said. “We haven’t had the luck to sell them yet. I wish we could.”
Larry Sisung is a name I am familiar and he has also been mentioned on these pages a time or two. I bet he is a both sharp guy and shark guy. Before we bring Sisung into sharper focus though we need to roll out another of Sisung’s puppets as we continue the Gordon story:
Lane Sisung said his father, Larry, started Atlantic Investments six or seven years ago with Chris Roberts, before Roberts won the 1st District council seat. The business plan was to buy adjudicated properties, but Sisung said the title work became a bigger mess than the potential payoff.
They paid between $500 and $1,500 for each lot.
“It’s been a big debacle, ” Sisung said. “We still don’t have clear title on it.”
Roberts confirmed that he was a member of the investment group when it bought the properties but got out before he ran for office. He said he didn’t have anything to do with the donations to the Jefferson Sports and Scholastic Foundation.
His name appears on cash sale deeds signed in March 2003. Roberts first ran for council in the fall of that year.
Our readers no doubt recall that Steve Theriot and his daughter Wanda do securities work including ye ol’ double deal and I suspect he is lurking around the edges here too but Sisung’s name came up a few times here on Slabbed back in May of this year so let’s visit with Whitmergate and this comment he left which gave good background on Sisung:
Mr. Sisung, Jr. was a boyhood friend of B.H. Miller, Jr., whose father was “Chief” Miller of Gretna for a long time. Chief Miller was a benefactor of Mr. Sisung, Sr. B.H. Jr. was on the JP Council for 20 years, retired to become Chief in 1976, then passed the Council seat on to heir apparent Butch Ward. Lawrence Sisung, Jr. became superintendent of the JP School Board around 1972-73 up and through 1978-79. Subsequent to his leaving the School Board, Mr. Sisung, Jr. went into business for himself as a “financial advisor”. His “schtick” was to move himself into any deal where he could get a little piece of the action, and consequently acquired the nickname “LP”(little piece). John Alario had become Speaker of the House in the La. Legislature and Steve Theriot had been serving as a state representative during Alario’s tenure (he now has served over 38 years, longest in La. Legislative history). As a result of Theriot’s relationship with the Big Dog, Lil Pup was appointed to the Bond Commission. And it was during this time frame in the late 1980′s through about 1999, that Sisung and Theriot developed their bonding (pun intended) relationship.
One time Slabbed commenter Fhill69 flung alot of mud at “Chrissy” Chris Roberts as well. Here is what this commenter had to say about Sisung/Roberts:
Chrissy’s other good friend Larry Sisung has made millions in the Parish. Someone needs to check this out. When Chrissy was running for his seat 7 years ago, he was already working for Sisung making commissions being the representative for West Jefferson Medical Center, just like Lagniappe. Even after he was elected the commissions continued. Someone needs to check this out too.
Maybe someone will check this out. 😉 Meantime back when we were doing a bit of DD on this Sisung fellow I was able to add something to the conversation that was right up my alley. Let’s visit on the topic of Mr. Sisung, his securities work and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, which upheld a fine levied by the then NASD. I’ll let the SEC explain:
Applicants violated the MSRB’s recordkeeping and reporting requirements. These requirements “facilitate enforcement of rule G-37’s ‘pay-to-play’ restrictions and, independently, . . . function as a public disclosure mechanism to enhance the integrity of and public confidence in municipal securities underwritings.” However, SSC and Sisung failed to record or report thirty-nine political contributions between 1998 and 2002. As noted above, NASD did not impose a suspension, expulsion, or bar……
In part deux we’ll bring Byron Lee further into spotlight as we examine his role in another recent Jefferson Parish Earmark/Charity Looting scam.