Folks I warned Toronto Star reporter Richard J. Brennan this story was far more complicated and nuanced than he was lead to believe and I encouraged him to contact media outlets and the local authorities before wielding the hatchet to us. Unfortunately he had his mind made up when he called me how he was going to frame his story and my mind is open to the possibility he stepped out big for suggesting I was a homophobe. Hopefully they have proof to back that claim up. After all, they now have readers agitating for my arrest and extradition to Canada because I dared to assert my free speech rights as an American Citizen and that comment passed through their moderation que.. Of course any action I take will be here in the US where the Star could enjoy the same legal rights as their brother journalists do here at Slabbed.
With that said I welcome intelligent discourse on this topic from both sides of the border that considers all the blogging we’ve done. Our readers may remember Leary asserted to the Times Picayune certain things about his, Perret’s and Trout Point Lodge’s association with Aaron Broussard, the guy who helped peddle minority ownership of the Lodge to certain connected area residents. Let’s start there:
Broussard, “does not and has never had any ownership or management involvement with Trout Point Lodge, Limited.” The message went on to say Broussard owns a “vacation home on the same road.”
Now we all understand that all the T-P’s reporting on Trout Point has been retracted and they repeated Leary’s meme in their retraction. Of course when the backtracking at the Times Picayune began we discovered that on a website controlled by the girls, Broussard’s name popped up along side Charles Leary’s as board members of the Billy’s Hill Trail Society. Just as quickly as I posted the link the girls took the web page down though it remains online at Archive.org to this day. Now why is this important? Actually it was a question that Richard Brennan asked me yesterday in a different way when said something along the lines of so what if they (the girls) handled Broussard’s rentals. There is nothing wrong in them conducting business correct? My answer was if it were arms length absolutely nothing is wrong. The better question is why did Leary insist that Broussard was completely unconnected to the Lodge, especially when it was not true. After all the Mille Ball piece from 2001 featured the Aaron Broussard connection and clearly the girls were heavily involved with Ball in developing it. Funny how they had no objection to Broussard’s name being mentioned in connection with a travel piece on the Lodge back in 2001.
I mention all this because Toronto Star story is predicated completely on the fact the Times Picayune retracted its story. Brennan failed to mention Fox 8 did not retract any of its reporting and especially the interview Broussard gave them back in January 2010. Heck who better to describe his relationship with the Lodge than the man at the center of the controversy. Broussard resigned in disgrace the day after he gave that interview. But for the sake of argument lets forget the Fox 8 suit in Nova Scotia for the time being as it involves pending litigation. What we need is a Nova Scotia press source on this subject matter and luckily for everyone there is a report in the Frank Magazine on this exact topic. To my best knowledge the story has not been retracted because Leary and Perret have an aversion to suing Canadian media outlets over the same things they sue American media outlets for in Nova Scotia (if I’m wrong guys please feel free to correct the record here). Here is a snippet of the article found on page 18:
Aaron’s $360,000 resort getaway is in the Tobeatic wilderness, an area first settled by New Orleans movers and shakers c. 1998, when a trio of cheese-lovin’ Yanks purchased the former Prout estate and opened the luxury Trout Point Lodge to cater to the wealthy jambalaya-munchin’ set (Frank 438, 458).
In the fallout from the resignation, Trout Point Lodge principals are not exactly rallying around their fellow traveller, Aaron. Understandably, they seem hotter than a Cajun spice to distance their biz from the political stinkfest, telling local media that Aaron is not a silent investor in their award-winning resort.
The perceived association likely stems from the fact Aaron acquired a neighbouring cottage in August 2002 from Louisiana’s late thoroughbred racing matriarch Marie Krantz, whose property was purchased from the Trout Point Lodge biz two years earlier.
At the time of the deed transfer, six months before her death at 67, Marie also advanced Aaron a $469,625 US loan, at no interest, payable over 10 years, property records indicate.
The beleaguered Jefferson Parish pol also owns or co-owns three additional lots, in spitting distance, which are mortgaged by a couple different U.S. banks for nearly $300,000 US.
Now I can certainly understand why they would want to minimize their involvement with Broussard but the fact remains he peddled those minority investments to the local “jambalaya-munchin’ set”. Clearly he was more than just some guy down the road. Now we have rehashed this more than a few times but the fact is Leary lied and collected a financial settlement from the Times Picayune based on that lie.
But our readers may remember that the question of ownership of the Lodge and the failed cheesemaking venture La Ferme D’Acadie was the subject of litigation with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. We found that case on April 26, 2011, less than 2 weeks before Leary served me with a notice of intended claim while telling Judge Muise in the Fox 8 case in mid May 2010 that I was an anonymous blogger and he needed a court order to find out who certain Slabbed commenters and I were. Again we turn to Frank Magazine for some info they dug up on the case:
Although ACOA fired the first salvo in June 2002, suing the trio and their Yarmouth County cheesemaking biz La Ferme D’Acadie for $104,211 in alleged arrears from a 1998 loan, the litigants do not seem finished yet. By the looks of it, we may discover that the moon is made of green cheese before this tiff ever ends.
Last fall, N.S. Court of Appeal’s Justice Jill Hamilton ruled that the Yankee bizmen could sue ACOA over its acknowledgement it destroyed “virtually all” the documents related to the disputed loan.
Apparently, the federal money-chucking agency deems its policy of shredding old documents “routine.” If I was minister Peter MacKay, I’d be on the horn mighty quick to ACOA big cheese Monique Collette, and I’d be giving her an earful.
Ironically, an earlier, related Supreme Court action had the New Orleans-based biz associates pleading that their documentary evidence was “90%” destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. They also alleged relevant documents were lost when a safe was stolen in a 2006 Trout Point Lodge break-in.
Since the legal spat began, three ACOA employees who played “pivotal roles” in the loan process have died, and others are no longer working for the feds.
Now we picked up on that exact same fact of the girls claiming they lost almost all their Nova Scotia business records to Hurricane Katrina. Specifically they claimed in the Canadian court record:
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.
I called them out for lying about Abel as he had no law office in New Orleans in 2005 instead practicing law with Aaron Broussard out of the Super 8 Motel on Clearview Parkway in Metairie before moving to the offices of Dr Manuel Mariano De La Rua on Williams Blvd in Kenner when Broussard filed suit against author Peter Brown on Danny Abel’s behalf on July 11, 2011. For those keeping score, Abel is the owner of Trout Point Lodge who still lives in New Orleans area that often affiliates with Broussard in civil legal matters. Abel and his girls are known down here as professional plaintiffs dating to their days working for Wendell Gauthier.
Beyond that though the girls claimed and filed affidavits with the courts in court swearing they were the only owners of La Ferme D’Acadie yet David Loeb identified himself as an owner of that venture in an affidavit sworn before the Nova Scotia courts in the Fox 8 case and claims to own La Ferme D’Acadie on his professional website. The investors down here were not sold Trout Point Lodge LP. Instead they were sold minority interests in La Ferme D’Acadie, the original business entity set up to hold the cheese farm and Trout Point Lodge.
That fact aside also claimed they had a safe stolen in the spring of 2006 from the Lodge and yet they seemingly contradicted themselves on Trip Advisor. Remember they told the courts their safe was stolen in the spring of 2006. Slabbed commenter Steve found this following in a management response to a bad Trip Advisor review dated September 13, 2006:
In seven years of operation without incident, Trout Point has never given out keys to the rooms. If someone wants a key or wants to store valuables in our safe, all they have to do is ask.
It just looks awfully bad given what they told the courts, represented to the local paper and Trip Advisor. So here is the deal folks, we have a good idea of some of the politically connected people who claim to be owners of the Lodge as reported in earlier, unretracted reporting, names that are literally at the epicenter of the corruption investigation such as Peter Butler Jr.
Remember Leary said Broussard was just some guy with a house down the street. What he didn’t say is the Lodge handled the rentals of all the Cabins at the development including Broussard’s. Speaking of those cabins one of our readers noticed Leary broke a link and took down a page at the Trout Point Lodge website regarding them:
Speaking of deleted content. I noticed one of the links you placed was no longer active V. Perhaps the Lodge no longer books rooms for the privately owned properties? Not clear on their website but certainly they no longer advertise on the link you provided. I did search the cached link and it had this data which is obviously outdated along with a nice map—
Privately-owned vacation houses are available for rental from Trout Point Lodge. These houses lie off the Trout Point Road near the Great Lodge, all are on the water—either East Meadow Lake or the Tusket River–and have their own kitchen facilities.
River Bend Lodge also operates in Bed & Breakfast style year-round.
Those arranging their rentals through Trout Point Lodge have access to all Lodge facilities including public areas, boats, mountain bikes, and the wood-fired hot tub (during main season). Meals at the Lodge’s Dining Room are available May-October. All billing occurs through the Lodge’s front desk, and the reservation and cancellation policy is the same as for the Lodge.
So the question remains, why the big coverup? In his interview with Fox 8 the day before he resigned Aaron Broussard addressed his ownership at the Trout Point development and he didn’t duck the question at all. Broussard certainly had a greater level of involvement with the Lodge itself than Leary publicly indicated as illustrated by the letter written by the late Roy D’Aquila on Aaron’s behalf to Leary and Perret less than 5 months after the scandal broke. According to Richard Brennan at the Toronto Star, Leary indicated to him the Lodge never did consolidate insurances with Broussard but that is also besides the point as he clearly mislead the local media as to the true nature of his business relationship with him. here we are back in 2008 and Broussard and Leary are talking about coordinating insurances.
These have been the most extraordinary 4 weeks of blogging we’ve ever had on Slabbed. On January 13th 2012 we learned that Aaron Broussard’s ex wife had copped a plea and agreed to tesitfy against her ex hubby Aaron. The “Factual Basis” for her plea contained the following nugget:
Additionally, from approximately 2004 through 2010, Broussard received monies, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, that were characterized as, among other things, “retainers,” “consulting fees” or “finder’s fees” with various contractors and vendors, all of whom were doing business with Jefferson Parish during the period of time Broussard was the President of Jefferson Parish. Moreover, Broussard was a majority owner in a holding company which owned an investment property in Canada. Broussard received income from this Canadian property. This property was partially funded by individuals and/or entities who were contractors and/or vendors doing business with Jefferson Parish during the period of time Broussard was the Jefferson Parish President.
Of course that investment property in Canada is there in Nova Scotia lapping on the shores of the Tusket River.
Later on January 13, 2012 Slabbed broke that Tim Whitmer had cut a plea deal, one full week ahead of the NOLA major media outlets. Then on January 25th I broke the letter written by Roy D’Aquila to Leary and Perret. Between that date and Friday January 27th long time D’Aquila law partner Jerome Volk quit the firm in what sources are describing to Slabbed as a nasty split. On January 29th D’Aquila dies of a heart attack.
My comment pointing out Volk’s departure was very sudden as the firm’s website has not been updated to account for Volks departure (when I made that remark) and unlike the Mr D’Aquila’s Obit which did have the name change did not sit well with certain people at the law firm. Now, the old D’Aquila Volk website has now been taken down but they did leave the firm’s contact information up on their now “under construction” website. I mention this because despite all of Aaron Broussard’s and Danny Abel’s office gyrations in official court filings, Broussard did indeed have an office to operate from, namely his office building located at 3329 Florida Blvd in Kenner. Heck he even has a phone line there per the Yellow pages (504) 469-6699. I mention all this because Roy D’Aquila’s law firm has that exact address and phone number listed on their under construction website and we know that Broussard’s investment company, Kempt Wilderness Lodge Services was partially owned by D’Aquila and used the caretaker’s cabin for the lodge as its registered address. D’Aquila name was also mentioned in the Times Picayune retraction.
In Canada reporting such things evidently constitutes libel but our readers are already hip how Canada’s defamation are routinely used by unscrupulous individuals to silence legitimate lines of journalistic inquiry. I have repeatedly been threatened by Leary and Perret with lawsuits every time I put a post such as this one up, but now they are out of ammo unless they come here and here is where we shall fully flesh out these issues. The Canadian media except one new media outlet has missed the boat on this story. And as far as Leary and Perret accusing us of being homophobes that is not a new thing at all with them as illustrated in their suit with the ACOA right there in Nova Scotia and I quote the judge:
Mr. Leary’s allegation of “unequal treatment” based on his American nationality or his sexual orientation appears to be speculation….
Some things with the girls never change. Meantime Slabbed will continue to peel back this scandal layer by layer until the truth is completely out in the open.