Last night after the 6pm WWL TeeVee newscast I started getting emails from segments of the local legal community that know the walking lawsuits that are Attorney Danny Abel and his “son” Shane Gates. Now I’ll grant it is not unusual for a practicing lawyer to be associated with lawsuits but Abel practices a curious version of the law indeed and wore many hats, from being Nipun Desai’s staff attorney at the Super 8 Motel to Aaron Broussard’s law partner at the Super 8 Motel on Clearview. Gates, along with Abel business associates Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret often served as Abel’s in-house plaintiffs for his lawsuits but before I get to all that we need more background for you newbies reading this.
Here on Slabbed we know this social/political network as the Goatherders and it was formerly lead by new Dragon Queen Aaron Broussard and the network includes media members like WWL TeeVee morning man Eric Paulsen, who evidently lived with Abel and Gates in Slidell before Katrina. Ironically it was Slabbed coverage of Paulsen’s lawsuit against State Farm that earned Slabbed the first threats of a defamation suit from Broussard and Abel’s business associates in Canada, Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret. Once upon a time Abel and Perret were gay lovers and along with Broussard, Leary and Gates formed life long business associations including advertising what appears to be money laundering /tax evasion services via the Costa Rica Company Cerro Coyote SA, which Aaron Broussard sold shares in to politically connected parish contractors like Carl Eberts dating to the late 1990s. It is through that lens that I and a few area lawyers that know the gang filtered last night’s lawsuit PR pump Gates received from WWL TeeVee as Slabbed will now tell the rest of the story.
As Lockemuptight’s sharp eye caught, the fact that Perlstein’s report omitted the reason Gates was stopped by St Tammany Parish Sheriff’s deputies was evident and thus Perlstein’s story is incomplete. Gates’ lawyer, Magnum J.D.’s partner James Williams, points to the not guilty verdict and the fact Gates closed on his new GTO 20 minutes at a local car dealership before being stopped as proof Gates was not drunk. I say those two facts prove nothing and here is why. The BAC tests were lost and thus could not be presented into evidence. If I were on Gates criminal trial jury I too would have voted to acquit him in record time on charges related to drunk driving without the BAC evidence. Simply put no BAC test, no case unless there was video, which in this case there is not. That said the blood test were drawn at the Heart Hospital by an RN unaffiliated with the tussle. The test was lost leaving only the results for the Louisiana Court of Appeals to mention as a case fact in a decision that benefitted Gates. The Heart Hospital was also sued by Gate’s in this matter. 2.7BAC is very high and it would not take much liquor for a 145 pound guy like Gates to get there.
What makes this interesting is a few months before Gates ended up in dutch with the law, Matt Labash at the Weekly Standard was in New Orleans visiting with his friends Danny Abel and Shane Gates writing eloquently about the visit in late March 2006. Here is a snippet:
I NEVER PASS THROUGH NEW ORLEANS without seeing two of my favorite people: Danny Abel and Shane Gates. They are large-hearted men, generous and true, and both possess a drinking companion’s most desirable trait: They stay until closing time. I met them nearly a decade ago, when profiling Danny’s then law-partner, the late Wendell “The Goat” Gauthier, a legend of the trial bar who sued anything that moved, and probably many things that didn’t.
In all honesty, it was a hit piece. My subjects were trying to take down the gun manufacturers, much as they did the tobacco industry. Danny (now 59) and his legal assistant/distant cousin Shane (now 30) were my minders. They took me from Quarter bar to restaurant and back again, explaining the evils of smoking and firearms, even as they lit up and showed me their guns–consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds. When the article came out portraying everybody as the swashbuckling pirates they resembled, we remained friends ever after.
In addition to his own small law practice, Danny has owned an exotic cheese farm, is an accomplished chef who used to run a Creole restaurant in the Quarter, and has co-written the Trout Point Lodge Cookbook, based on Creole dishes he and his business partners serve at their lodge in Nova Scotia. The athletically built Shane loves food too, even though he’s lost 20 pounds from stress since his Slidell house was nearly wiped out by Katrina.
That Slidell house of course ended up being claimed by Eric Paulsen when it came time to sue State Farm. Let’s examine a snippet from a motion in that old Paulsen case when ol’ Shano went on the lam to avoid giving a deposition:
First, Plaintiff and Shane Gates (also known as Shane L. D’Antoni) are creditor/mortgagee and debtor/mortgagor on the very property as issue in this lawsuit, 56345 McManus Road in Slidell, Louisiana. 2 Thus when Baumgartner questioned Plaintiff at his deposition regarding his “unusual relationship” with Gates and why Gates seemed to be living at the McManus Road Property, Plaintiff’s reply that “Gates made a few mortgage payments” for Plaintiff has a whole new set of implications in light of the unearthing of the Bond for Deed, a transaction that has never been disclosed to State Farm or its counsel during the adjustment and lawsuit over this claim.3 Certainly in Plaintiff’s position as creditor/seller to Gates of the McManus Property, Plaintiff could have produced Gates for deposition and clearly knew at the outset when initial disclosures and discovery was made that Gates would be a witness in these proceedings.
As for Abel’s contention that “he has no control over Gates or Finley” the Weekly Standard interview given by Gates, Abel and Finley evidences that all three are the best of friends, that Abel employs Gates, “his distant cousin”, as his legal assistant and has done so since 1998 when Abel was one of the plaintiff’s counsel in the City of New Orleans’ products liability lawsuit against Smith and Wesson.
Unusual relationships are the rule of the day with the Goatherders but the twist is in Paulsen Abel is still a distant cousin to Gates but we need again visit Matt Labash’s Weekly Standard article to get a bit more color of the life of Gates circa post Katrina 2006 just before he got tangled up with Sheriff Strain’s deputies:
Shane and I order Maker’s Mark, while Danny claims he’s practicing pre-trial abstinence. He finally succumbs to peer pressure, though insisting, “I have no peers–how can I be pressured?” He orders a Chartreuse, which makes Shane blanch: “It’s like drinking a Christmas tree.” But Danny revels in Old-Worldliness, pointing out that one of the parade krewes the other day had a sign, saying, “Jacques Chirac, buy us back.”
Nothing wrong with knocking back a few drinks now, I think my alcohol consumption went up a bit in those days myself but Gates had it bad as we continue:
All the while, Shane is supposed to get rental reimbursement for living outside the house while he fixes it. He rented an apartment in the Garden District, which became too dangerous a place to stay with his baby, once FEMA turned off the hotel-room subsidization spigot in Orleans Parish for lower-income types. Many of them, Shane says, are now crashing with relatives or living hand-to-mouth. They roam the street during the day, until they have to find a place to sleep at night. From his apartment balcony, he’s been screamed at on a half-dozen occasions by envious less-fortunates who demand that he share his electricity and running water.
Recently, when driving to the apartment, he nearly got in a gunfight. A car slammed its brakes on in front of him repeatedly, trying, he suspects, to set him up for an accident. “He pulled out his gun, I pulled out my gun, we got into a chase,” says Shane. “I caught myself and thought ‘What the hell am I doing? I’m going to get in a gunfight because somebody’s trying to make an insurance claim.’ People are losing their minds around here.”
Shane, once a happy-go-lucky type, quick to laugh and slow to anger, often feels as though he’s losing his mind. His wife, Christine, tells me that he now barks at her and everyone else over the slightest provocation, or over none at all. He also drinks too much. Formerly a good-time social drinker, he now drinks during the day, and can only sleep after several glasses of bourbon and a Xanax. “If I don’t drink, I don’t sleep–period,” he admits. When he’s not thinking about the insurance money that he can’t spend, he thinks about the savings that he already has spent (about $60,000 of it, between rentals, unreimbursed repairs, and transportation to and fro, which has seen him put over 30,000 miles on his truck in four months).
Now this is a far different picture albeit one written more contemporaneously with the events involving the Sheriff’s office than Mr Perlstein’s story, which implied Gates was just a young dad doing nothing that was pulled over and shit kicked for the hell of it by two rogue Sheriff’s deputies. Gates was clearly having trouble dealing with the damage to Eric Paulsen’s house that was caused by Hurricane Katrina so surely the picture here is not as simplistic as the one Perlstein allowed Gate’s lawyers to paint for his report.
Now it is at this point that I feel I must share a couple of the email quotes I received last night because a looksie at the Channel 4 story against the bigger knowledge base caused people to opine things like:
WTF is this about?
And that does not count the ones I got from people with tip o’the elbow experience with Shano that say.
He was clearly DWI. For Williams and Shane to suggest otherwise is incredible.
Earlier I mentioned Gates as an in-house plaintiff for Danny Abel and this suit against Sheriff Strain is not Gates first rodeo with a police brutality lawsuit. For instance in the mid 1990s Gates got into a kerfuffle with the NOPD and sued in a case styled Shane D’Antoni v. City of New Orleans, et al, case number 96-cv-03083, which was dismissed by the court. Back in those days Abel was working for Wendell Gauthier so the fact Shano got no joy in that one is significant IMHO. All these lawsuits just give me that dubious feeling but the thing about last night’s report that bothered me the most was Gates’ undisclosed business relationships with WWL TeeVee’s Eric Paulsen.
Paulsen is closely associated with Gates and is a long time employee of WWL TeeVee. He is the guy Leary and Perret have on speed dial and I proved the extent to which he compromises channel 4’s news operation in the post where Slabbed solved the Aaron Broussard Nova Scotia bribery mystery. Paulsen’s personal relationship with these guys compromises his interviews, such as the one he had with candidate Al Leone where Paulsen openly scoffed there was any corruption in Jefferson Parish less than 2 weeks after every sitting Parish Council member had testified before the federal grand jury. I’d bet bottom dollar last night’s story was Paulsen’s baby and the fact he is a business associate with Gates was disclosed no where in the piece that I saw bothered me.
I mention this because what draws people to Slabbed is ol’ Doug is a Journalist/Blogger that in respects is the un-journalist along the lines of the Uncola from days of yore in that I bring my business experiences as a CPA to Slabbed so I tend to look at things a wee bit different from many of the Legitimate Media™ types. CPAs operate under the concept of Independence which means you do not perform certain services for clients where you have a business relationship outside of the services to be provided. Put in more laymen term for the journalist, when a guest on CNBC recommends a stock they disclose if they have a financial position in that stock. It is called transparency.
What I’m saying is not revolutionary locally by any stretch of the imagination. For instance in September of last year when Paul Rioux broke the story for the Times Picayune of the various members of the media such as Garland(fill) Robinette that Fred Heebe considered his lobbyists the Picayune disclosed the meal and helicopter ride the T-P’s Gordon Russell received from Heebe in the course of developing their post Katrina landfill stories. Transparency, or lack thereof in the WWL TeeVee report last night caused a reader that knows ’em to wonder via email:
Paulsen trying to help Shane and Abel get money on the civil suit
Maybe the gang is in the market for a new house.
We’ve been following Gates v Stain for well over a year now and folks I’m not ready to condemn Sheriff Strain and his guys like WWL TeeVee did last night. Like the Costner suit this one may well be one of those cases with no good guys in it. From the looks of the legal teams and the attempt to try the case in the media that certainly appears where this is headed. Like Karen over at Channel 4 Slabbed will be keeping an eye on this one.