I think by now even our most casual readers know our successor website, slabbed.org was knocked offline courtesy of the Times Picayune’s corporate parent Advance Publications and this started a chain of events that resulted in Slabbed temporarily being moved back to WordPress. I’d submit this was a miscalculation of gargantuan proportions for several reasons, which will become clear as I roll out this series of posts on Aaron Broussard’s connections to Trout Point Lodge and its purported owners, Charles Leary, Danny Abel and Vaughn Perret. I say purported because others were sold 2% ownership interests in the Trout Point development as touted by Broussard and those folks are the bagholders in this deal. IMHO to properly tell this story we need to start at the end and work back so it is with this second retraction of the Times Picayune’s reporting on Trout Point Lodge where we begin:
In January 2010, The Times-Picayune published several articles that mentioned Trout Point Lodge and its business dealings while discussing Jefferson Parish politics and the scandal in the administration of former Parish President Aaron Broussard. The newspaper retracts publication implying that Trout Point Lodge was involved in the scandal.
The newspaper believes there is no basis for making any implication that Trout Point Lodge, Limited or its owners, Daniel Abel, Vaughn Perret, or Charles Leary, were involved in any wrongdoing and, indeed, never intended to make any such implication. The Metropolitan Crime Commission complaint to the Louisiana Ethics Board about Broussard’s vacation property in Nova Scotia in fact did not name or implicate any of them. The Times-Picayune apologizes for errors in its reporting regarding Trout Point Lodge and its owners.
This much is true, Trout Point Lodge nor its purported owners are involved in what we call the Jefferson Parish Political Corruption Scandal and the newspaper is right in saying there is no basis to make that implications. That said in re-reading reporter Richard Rainey’s story on Trout Point I still can’t find where that implication was made by Rainey in his reporting. In researching this story what I have found is a pattern of Leary, Abel and the girls being first class bitches and I think it is safe to assume based upon the retractions they made the Times Picayune and its corporate parent their bitch in this fiasco because Rainey was onto something big, albeit a bit dated in the fleecing of several local individuals that were marketed and sold ownership in the Trout Point by Aaron Broussard, who had close personal and business ties to Abel, Leary and the girls.
In fact it was our own Jr. that gave us the smoking gun when he excerpted from a July 2001 Times Picayune Travel Pump of the Lodge:
Abel is the steadying glue — – and a good evangelist. The guys won’t name names, but the 200 acres have become a haven for some prominent New Orleans and Jefferson residents.
“Mr. Broussard was up here last week with his son,” said a construction worker outside a brand new lakeside home I checked out on my walk. “Mr. Broussard?” “Aaron,” he said, as in Jefferson Parish Council chairman. “This is his house.”
And “Miss Marie’s” house over there, that would be Miss Marie . . . ? Listening carefully to his garbled pronunciation, I came up with “Marie Krantz?” “Yes, that’s her,” he said. As in the Fair Grounds’ Marie Krantz.
Wendell Gauthier is an investor, though he’s never been here. New Orleans attorney Peter J. Butler Jr. said on the phone he invested as a 2 percent partner, and plans to visit for the first time next October. “We hope to make money, but if we don’t, I hear it’s a nice place to visit.”
Yep it appears those solicited for money for the Trout Point development include a whose who of local society as well as a few players in the current political corruption scandal such as Baby Butler. Plus other Trout Point investors were named in Richard Rainey’s now retracted article in Ed Muniz, Nick Baroni, Bennett Powell and Larry Stoulig.
So what was it in Rainey’s story that caused Charles and the girls such heartburn. For a clue we turn to a link that showed up here on Slabbed last week to a story in the Atlantic Canada Frank titled Cyber-Libel News by Sue Ingem:
Trout Point Lodge principals Vaughn Perret and Charles Leary are suing the New Orleans publication in Yarmouth Supreme Court for over 500 instances of libel, claiming a series of January 2010 articles on disgraced N.O. politician Aaron Broussard’s Nova Scotia ties perpetuated its shelf-life online, causing economic harm to the East Kemptville wilderness resort biz, owned since 1998 by Yanks Perret, Leary and Daniel Abel.
Like top HRM smoke-eaters Bill Mosher and Steve Thurber, Perret and Leary are crying foul over anonymous comments left on the paper’s website. Court documents allege “cyber-libel,” and claim that NOLA.com provided an open forum “inviting new defamatory comment.”
Their March 29 amended statement of claim deems many of the posted comments “injurious, unfair, malicious, reckless, wilful, wanton and unprivileged.”
Days after the Picayune articles, which were deseminated via Twitter and picked up by other Louisiana media and the Associated Press, Broussard resigned as mayor of Jefferson Parish, a suburb of New Orleans (Frank 577).
In their 33-page court filing, Leary and Perret allege that, “In the process of its months-long pursuit of the Broussard administration, the Picayune has damaged the reputation of Trout Point Lodge and its principal owners.”
Now what Sue doesn’t tell her readers is that the Picayune had retracted the story long before Leary and Perret filed suit but that matters not in the scheme of things because what was at play here was Leary, Perret and Abel were trying to use the Canadian Libel laws to strong-arm the Picayune and their parent Advance Publications. Now perhaps Advance does not keep up with changes in Canadian Libel laws or maybe the fact that Leary and the girls advertised in sister company Conde Nast Johanses guide swung the corporate decision toward retracting a factual news story but whatever the calculus Leary and the gang thought they buried the story.
So who are the investors in Trout Point and what did they invest in? Why is this important? Maybe because of the government assistance Leary, Abel and Perret received in Canada via the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. That assistance, in the form of a “repayable contribution” is the current subject of litigation in Nova Scotia and one of the major sticking points in discovery was the disclosure of the names of the owners. Let’s let the Nova Scotia Courts tell this hard luck story:
In June 1998 the plaintiff, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, made a “repayable contribution” to a partnership involving the defendants, in order to assist in the startup of a cheesemaking and tourism business. The partnership was subsequently dissolved and incorporated by the former partners, and part of the business was moved to another location. In September 2001, the plaintiff declared that the partnership was in default of the repayable contribution agreement. The plaintiff launched an action in June 2002, the defendants being Mr. Leary, his former partners and the partnership itself.
Like I said one of the sticking points was the disclosure of the owners of La Ferme D’Acadie, which Leary claims is the Dairy Farm portion of the Nova Scotia operations and despite the fact Abel’s name evidently appeared on the paperwork to get the loan Leary was insistent Abel was not involved and the gyrations are simply stunning as we continue from the court opinion:
The applicant claims that broken pipes caused a flood in his home during the winter of 2002, resulting in the destruction of documents. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina wiped out the office of Daniel G. Abel, who was Mr. Leary’s Louisiana attorney and business associate. The applicant maintains that he kept records of the partnership’s dealings with the plaintiff, as well as other business records, at this location. In the spring of 2006 a break-in at Trout Point Lodge in East Kemptville, NS, resulted in the theft of a safe containing certain documents related to the transactions which are the subject of this proceeding.
Obviously there is a huge problem here – that of a liar or in this case a perjurer keeping his lies straight. Now maybe there was a bust pipe that took out vital records and maybe someone took time to drive to the middle of nowhere to steal the safe from a resort that was obviously not doing well financially. But Abel losing his records to Hurricane Katrina? Really Charles?
The judge did not appreciate Leary’s arguments either and must have laughed him out of court. I say that because Leary evidently pulled out all the stops in the courtroom but the judge did not buy into the “they are picking on me because I’m a gay American” meme:
Mr. Leary’s allegation of “unequal treatment” based on his American nationality or his sexual orientation appears to be speculation….
This was important enough for Leary to appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia but he did not find much relief there either.
So to this point we are left with more questions than answers such as:
- How many 2% owners were sold an interest in the Trout Point development by Aaron Broussard?
- What did Broussard get in return for promoting a resort in Nova Scotia purportedly owned by 3 gay men, one of whom was his former Parish Council Aid?
- Who are the owners of the Trout Point development and why did the latest partnership dissolve?
I’ll attempt to answer these questions and more as we travel from Nova Scotia to Costa Rica in part 2.