Does your social network matter? Slabbed explores a few of Ron Maestri’s social connections and his role in the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal.

Does your social network matter?  My own opinion, as it relates to the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal is it fundamentally does as some very hard decisions must be made on whom to prosecute and for what crimes. Before I get into the details of some information I’ve been holding for several weeks now we must set up some very important concepts beginning with cognitive bias which is defined as distortions in the way people perceive reality, and in particular a subset known as Group-serving bias and one of that subset’s progeny, Ingroup bias:

Ingroup bias is the preferential treatment people give to those whom they perceive to be members of their own groups.

Experiments in psychology have shown that group members will award one another higher pay-offs even when the “group” they share seems random and arbitrary, such as having the same birthday, having the same final digit in their U.S. Social Security Number, or even being assigned to the same flip of a coin.

In less fancy terms we favor our friends, our church community, our classmates, our tailgate group or whatever group of people we happen to identify with. This is important because of a “journalistic fact” left in Telemachus’ comment that we featured in part 1:

One is Jennifer Sneed’s role and occupying of a Council seat even though she is conflicted out. Per a 1/14/09 TP article, by *that time the ONLY council member Dutchie had said he had met with was….. Sneed’s replacement, Ron Maestri, who of course was appointed.

Our Jefferson Parish readers well recognize the Maestri last name. Walter Maestri was the man whose famous doomsday plan ended up needlessly flooding much of the east bank of Jefferson Parish during Katrina. Ron Maestri of UNO athletics fame keeps popping up with “interim” in front of his name with regards to Jefferson Parish politics whether he was keeping Jennifer Sneed Heebe’s old council seat warm for Cynthia Lee Sheng or subbing for the now retired Lawrence Chehardy at the tax assessor’s office.  I’m told by sources at the Yenni Building that Ron is a big improvement over Mr Chehoggy as he actually shows up for work consistently. It is easy to understand the interim label in the respect that Mr Ron is apparently well liked by most everyone that matters in metro NOLA and a lot of folks who don’t. In short Mr Ron appears to be the mythical honest broker personified.

Hanging with Ron may also have benefits unintended or otherwise.  From a reader:

Dave Sherman and Aaron Broussard are best friends. It’s a well-known fact that Broussard lived with the Sherman family after Katrina for several months. Chehardy is Sherman’s long-time law partner. They both are good friends with Maestri and Broussard. Maestri’s son John works for Jim Letten prosecuting political corruption cases.

Now back to Telemachus’ observation that places Dutchie Connick in a landfill meet with Jennifer Sneed Heebe’s interim replacement on the Parish Council, Ron Maestri:

Per a 1/14/09 TP article, by *that time the ONLY council member Dutchie had said he had met with was….. Sneed’s replacement, Ron Maestri.

If that is true then Mr Maestri is a potential witness in both the Waste Management suit and the FBI investigation into the landfill. I also think there is also a greater significance.  Let’s admit it, by all accounts Aaron Broussard is a great guy to hang with and folks like Dave Sherman are at the pinnacle of polite society in the metro area.  And they are not alone in that social network as folks like uptown Freddie Heebe and his wifey are right there too, dutifully chronicled by reporters such as the T-P’s Nell Nolan.

Can these relationships impact how this case is handled at the US Attorney’s office? Absolutely it can if key players are in da group.

I want to make clear I have no clue what is going on internally in Jim Letten’s office and he may have well erected some sort of chinese firewall for all I know.  I do know that each person who works in Mr Letten’s office is a human being subject to and limited by cognitive bias including bias blind spot. I’ll disclose I’ve consistently heard rumors of a split in Team USA over the conduct of this investigation since last fall. Such speculation is the natural by-product of the slow pace of the federal investigation.

And to tie in some prior blogging I’ll add group-serving bias may well also partially explain what happened in Jamie Perdigao and Jim Letten’s relationship back in late 2008/early 2009.

Finally, speaking of polite society I understand Oil Well Radio’s Garland Robinette is back to work after he recovered from his auto immune problem and he is back to parroting Grover Norquist.

As always Slabbed reports you decide.

sop

23 thoughts on “Does your social network matter? Slabbed explores a few of Ron Maestri’s social connections and his role in the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal.”

  1. In case it’s not noted elsewhere…

    The 7/27/05 TP has David Sherman as River Birch’s lawyer: “River Birch donated $1,000 to Roberts’ 2002 campaign for the Jefferson School Board. The company’s lawyers include David Sherman, a friend and campaign treasurer of Broussard, Congemi and Lagasse.”

    That factoid turns up in at least four other TP reports, including this one from 10/14/04:

    “””” Metairie lawyer David Sherman, a friend and former campaign treasurer to Parish President Aaron Broussard and Councilman Louis Congemi, is also a lawyer for River Birch. But Ward and Sherman said he

  2. The name “Walter Maestri” popped up in this POST by SOP. NEVER FORGET this son-of-a-bitch! Regardless of who conceived and implemented the Jefferson Parish “Catastrophic Weather Event Doomsday Plan”, whether a prior administration or Broussard’s. Regardless of whether Maestri had the educational qualifications to be “an emergency manager”. Regardless of whether the so-called Parish “Doomsday Plan” was even applicable to a storm less than a Category 4. And regardless of whether “the plan” mandated that personnel, such as “pump workers”, should be sheltered over 200 miles away from their work stations in the Parish. The fact remains that FEDERAL LAW MANDATED that: “Competent operators shall be on duty at pumping plants whenever it appears that necesity for pump operation is imminent.” 33 Code of Federal regulations Section 208.10 (f)(2). This law hasn’t even been cited in the Quixotic litigation being pursued by Darleen Jacobs and others in State Court against the Parish, IN WHICH A JUDGMENT WILL NEVER BE COLLECTED. Is Walter Maestri, individually, a defendant in that action? Ashton O’Dwyer a/k/a “The WHITE Henry Glover”.

  3. Great post, Sop! Could it be that Letten offered plea deal to first “member of the group” only to find there were others in his “friendship circle” – in other words, has he reached the point where he”s offered a lot of deals without getting enough goods to indict whoever the “group” was willing to sacrifice. Just a thought.

  4. Ron Maestri was baseball coach at UNO where Dave Sherman attended. Dave Sherman was President of UNO alumni when Maestri moved on up in UNO administration. Dave Sherman and Chehardy are in same firm. Sherman was on corporate Campaign docs for all the various miscreants in JP. Mike Ellis , formerly of the US ATTYS OFFICE, works in Sherman firm . Sherman represents East Jefferson Hospital Board and responded to subpoenas for them back in 2009-10. Sherman has been the go-to guy for all the corruption-charged boobies…and the FBI knows it quite first-hand. ( Wink wink)
    I am getting dizzy just trying to keep them all in order … so is Walter S. Maestri III ( formerly JP Emergency Czar now in St Bernard) and/or Ron Maestri (interim everything JP) related to :

    1. Mr. Jon Michael Maestri
    Primary Address: 3813 Neyrey Dr
    City: Metairie
    State: LA
    Zip: 70002-4423
    Telephone:(504) 421-1675
    Fax:
    * Parish: JEFFERSON
    Law Firm: US Attorney’s Office
    * Board District: 2nd – LSBA Board District
    * Judicial District : 24th – Judicial District
    Date Admitted: 4/18/1997

    2. Mr. Andrew Mark Maestri Primary Address:
    1100 Poydras St Ste 3700
    City: New Orleans
    State: LA
    Zip: 70163
    Telephone: (504) 599-8224
    Fax: (504) 599-8155
    * Parish: ORLEANS
    Law Firm: Frilot, LLC
    * Board District: 1st – LSBA Board District
    * Judicial District : Orleans Parish
    Date Admitted:10/13/2006

    3.Mr. Marshall F Maestri
    Primary Address: MC:WL1-16.104
    501 Westlake Park Blvd
    City: Houston
    State: TX
    Zip: 77079
    Telephone:(281) 366-3055
    Fax: (281) 366-3698
    * Parish:
    Law Firm: BP America, Inc
    * Board District: Out of State
    * Judicial District :
    Date Admitted: 10/7/1988

    4. Mr. Walter Patrick Maestri
    Primary Address: 755 Magazine St
    City: New Orleans
    State: LA
    Zip: 70130-3629
    Telephone:(504) 581-5141
    Fax: (504) 566-1201
    * Parish: ORLEANS
    Law Firm: Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles, LLP
    * Board District: 1st – LSBA Board District
    * Judicial District : Orleans Parish
    Date Admitted: 10/9/1998

    Of note: Deutsch Kerrigan, and Frilot, and BP, Houston, and the US Attorney’s Office…well connected these Maestri boys

  5. If you think about it installing Ron Maestri as interim in Sneed’s seat is a form of social insurance vis a vie Mr Letten and if I’m right both machiavellian and sheer genius. There is nothing to indicate Mr Maestri’s intentions were nothing other than honorable but once he met with Dutchie Connick the entire internal equation changed.

    Would a prosecutor protect someone from getting a PR black eye by not filing charges against others? Since he was interim why bother to meet on the landfill except for the rush process? What DD did Mr Maestri’s office perform that benefitted this process? The fact pattern makes all of these questions fair.

    I’ve never hid the fact that my professional past includes working closely with a local office of the DoJ and I enjoyed doing business with everyone there I worked with. As a group this office was full of upstanding folks that were also solid contributors in their communities outside the day job. It is inevitable they would run across folks like Dave Sherman, Mike Ellis, etc etc etc.

    And then you wake up one day and find out ppl you hang with are also robbing you blind. Where do you go with that emotionally, especially if some otherwise good people with good intentions got mixed up in it through no fault of their own?

    It is a rich topic for speculation, especially given the slow pace of the investigation.

    For me this is significant though I’ve yet to explain it in the order of events this past fall.

    1. I heard rumors of a split in Team USA over pace of investigation.
    2. The Parish Council’s emails were data dumped on me.
    3. Raid on River Birch.

    I took item 3 as a sign that if there were a split on the pace of the investigation one side got their way.

    sop

  6. Jon Maestri is with the US Attorneys office. Letten’s office should recuse itself from River Birch and the other 18 other Jefferson Parish investigations. Transparency should reign supreme at all levels of government.

  7. Assuming you’re correct and item 3 means one side got it’s way, Sop, is the “other side” contributing to the controversy or pitching in?

  8. I would like to chime in here with a personal opinion. I run in many of the same circles as many of the JP politicos. I have been privy to many a candid conversation about many of the topics discussed here. I comment here semi-regularly and seldom pull a punch. That being said, the Maestri’s (Ron and Jon) are above reproach in my opinion. I believe that is why the politicos pull in Ron every time they need cover. Also, jon did not hang out with the entitled types. Jon is all business, like his dad. In fact, I have overheard the entitled types complaining about the Maestri’s staying out of the political side of government and not “playing ball”–pun intended.

  9. It may be warranted to pull Letten and his gang from the investigation because of the fact that Ron and Jon are on opposing sides here. But, to insinuate that either of them is complicit in any wrongdoing is a jump to be sure. As far as I know, both Ron and Jon are squeaky clean. In fact, I would assert that JP taxpayers should want both of the Maestri’s right where they are right now. When Sneed left office, anyone who had any business in her district met with Ron to pitch their side to him. That goes for homeowner’s looking for variances, the fire department which was under siege, all the way to landfill monopoly seekers. Ron meeting with a lobbyist does not mean he was complicit. I am going to leave this alone now lest the commentariat label me an apologist.

  10. Mayor David Caradelle of Grand Isle has a stepfather who is a child molester. His name is Jerry Dantin and he runs Carmadelle’s snowball stand in Grand Isle during the summer. Carmadelle tried to cover it up, and his scumbag stepfather lost a motion today to try and have his confession excluded. Good job by Judge Steve Windhorst. This old pedophile needs to spend the rest of his life in jail. Slabbed nation needs to bring it on this one!

  11. You’re not an apologist JPGoodfella but you also illustrate the exact problem with being used for cover. Does meeting with Dutchie Connick make Ron Maestri dirty? No. Does it make him a witness? Possibly.

    I want to emphasize that I am not insinuating Ron Maestri is dirty but I am illustrating the problem with being pulled in for cover.

    IMHO Mr Letten and every judge in the LAED needs to step aside on this one given the players involved.

    sop

  12. I agree wholeheartedly Sock.

    And if I may add, it was JP President Coulon who had an ex parte meeting with a 24th JDC Judge to go easy on his family member who is a pedophile. And Wilkinson, too, who used his influence with a 24th JDC Judge to favor a child molester.

    Thank you Judge Windhorst, if only for this one legal procedural victory. This kind of influence peddling has got to stop, and stop now !

  13. Well said sop.
    Ron Maestri is a witness to a conspiratorial morass. If he is indeed ‘squeaky clean’ as JPG claims then he is a stellar witness either for the Prosecution to prove that Dutchie was peddling family power, or for the Defense that Dutchie was not doing anything nefarious in his meeting with at least one Councilmember, namely Ron Maestri.
    If in fact Dutchie was being incorrect during the meeting and Ron Maestri did not report it then Ron Maestri may, and I emphasize may here, have other problems.

    And his son Jon is conflicted out either way IMHO which conflict , since not voluntarily reported by and acted upon by Lettenemgo et al, conflicts out anyone in the US Attorney’s Office who has had contact with any of the players. Ergo, Letten’s gotta go.

    Maybe this is partly the reason Mike Magner was so quick to disappear after his initial interest in the River Birch mess…too many friends and acquaintences implicated? Socially a nightmare for family of the one charged with pursuing criminal prosecution of neighbors and school chums and coaches etc I would imagine.

  14. JPGoodfella:

    I made almost the exact points about Ron and Jon Maestri to Sop via e-mail over a month ago. Jon is a good guy, and from what I know of his father, he is as well. Two of the nicest, most down to earth guys you will meet. I think Chris Cox is a good guy too. If I had to bet on it, my money would be on the fact that the Maestris have kept it clean.

    But here are the problems. Unfortunately, you are sometimes known by the company you keep. (God, I hated that saying when my mom used it, but it’s true.) The bigger problem might be the extent to which Cox and Jon provide an undeniable friend/family link between Letten and the JP power structure. Also, if I’m not mistaken, Letten and Young are both DeLaSalle boys; so is Vitter for that matter. But I digress.

    From what I know, Ron and Jon have a very close father-son relationship. So then the question becomes: if a son knows critical information about potential criminal investigations/actions involving some of his father’s closest friends and colleagues, can he remain completely silent during those close, internal conversations only a father and son can have?

    And likewise with Chris Cox. He has been close with Young for a long time and worked directly under John in the DA’s office before going to work for Letten. Does he just lock away any and all institutional knowledge (gained as an AUSA) of these various individuals with whom he likely comes in contact on a weekly, if not daily basis?

    No accusations here, and I think my comment has been in support of the Maestris and Cox, but these are legitimate questions/issues. And if one (Letten) is operating under the premise of avoiding “the appearance of impropriety,” should Letten have punted?

  15. When Ron Maestri was an interim councilman, Broussard, stating he was worried he would lose top quality employees, proposed a resolution authorizing a pay raise for all the at will legal employees, including his wife and all the existing fake paralegals.

    Maybe telemachus can find the Times-Picayune article describing such a conflicted proposal and its failure to be passed

  16. For all practical purposes Letten has punted as it relates to the white political class of JP, with the sole exception of Sean Alfortish, whose transgressions had national significance which Letten could not control.

    Frankly had Waste Management not been the national behemoth that it is, this criminal conspiracy amongst the principals of River Birch and JP Officials (both elected and appointed) to award River Birch an illegal landfill monopoly would never have hit the light of day.

    We are enmeshed in a political and familial cluster-fuck of conflicts of monumental proportions, and Letten will not and can not be the one to untangle the corruption that has engulfed us.

  17. Just read Mr. Rainey’s article which tells us that the SOS campaign contributor Gaudry Law Firm has yet again scored another scam Parish contract, this time, the BP mess. This is the same law firm, through it’s partner Michael Peytavin, that aided and abetted former PA Tom Wilkinson in “negotiating” the River Birch illegal contract.

    http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/02/jefferson_council_picks_law_fi.html

    Oh, before I forget, it seems Mr. “Squeaky Clean” Maestri chimed with the other Council Clowns to make it another 7-0 vote…isn’t that special !

  18. Don’t mean to be argumenative Whitmergate, but Ron Maestri is not on the council anymore, and thus he could not vote.

  19. Ack.

    {spit-cough}

    Ack*!

    “””””Ronnie Lamarque, who does his ” Blues Boys ” act – a la Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s “Blues Brothers” – with Kenner Mayor Aaron Broussard …

    …In addition to playing Barry Baronne in “And One to Die On” for the Cajun Caper, Larmarque has been chosen by the Bastille Day Committee as its Frenchman of the Year. …

    Nanci Easterling Barrett will fill in for her mother, committeewoman Mickey Easterling, as this year’s Marie Antoinette. The queen mother will be in Tangier, my deah.

    Joining Mayor Aaron Broussard (who’s playing Harry Harmony, the victim’s accountant) in his dasdardly deeds are state Rep. Glen Ansaradi, playing the victim’s administrative assistant; Margo Jackson DuBos, as the victim’s ex-wife; Janet Lawhon as Dolly Desire, the victim’s girlfriend; Kenner Councilman Terry McCarthy as Eddie Esplanade, the victim’s bookie; Buddy Stall as Fuzzy Fontainebleau, the victim’s partner; Clancy DuBos as Ignatius Iberville, the homicide detective; … It’s a hoot. Well, at least the rehearsals are.

    Entertainment at the patron party – besides a second act of the mystery, which will reveal who did it – will include Bobby Cure and his Summertime Blues and Oliver (“Who Shot the LaLa”) Morgan. Not to mention Lamarque and Broussard ‘s ” Blues Boys ” act. Of course, they have to perform. Broussard is honorary chairman of the caper, which is a Philip Capitano production. …”

    – 6/24/90 TP

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