Slabbed examines the harassment of private citizens expressing their opinion on Jefferson Parish Corruption: Part 2

The post was insanely good except for one part but before we get to the post and part to which I refer, let’s visit with this New York Times story from 5 days ago:

The question is no longer who has been hacked. It’s who hasn’t?

The Washington Post can be added to the growing list of American news organizations whose computers have been penetrated by Chinese hackers.

After The New York Times reported on Wednesday that its computers as well as those of Bloomberg News had been attacked by Chinese hackers, The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday that it too had been a victim of Chinese cyberattacks.

The above illustrates the vulnerability of sophisticated corporate networks to hacking but we also learned that from News Corp in the UK in 2012.  I mention this because last month the Times Picayune’s Gordon Russell wrote a story on Fred Heebe’s witch hunt for a private citizen that used the guest computer at the International House Hotel to comment on NOLA.com about the scandal in Jefferson Parish, specifically Dutchie Connick’s role in the alleged conspiracy between the River Birch Landfill and the Broussard Administration to put in the fix in favor of River Birch and close the Parish’s own landfill.

And that brings me to that insanely good post I mentioned at the beginning as I have previously linked it twice on Slabbed, Jason Berry’s A corner piece of the commenter puzzle.  I featured that post in part 1 of this series and I need to feature it again to set up the balance of this post, which will be both long and thorough. Jason set up 4 possibilities which would explain how Fred Heebe ended up knowing the mystery commenters opined on Dutchie Connick from the International House computer along with the email address that he used to register with NOLA.com and I summarize:

1.  The IP information of this commenter was obtained from a second party marketer or vendor?……..
2.  Someone within the NOLA Media Group or Advanced Publications shared the IP and identifying information with Heebe’s defense team that allowed them to track the commenter back to the hotel………
3.  Advanced Publications/Nola.com servers were hacked………
4.  Heebe’s team somehow knew that the commenter was using the hotel’s computer already and they put a keystroke recorder on it in order to track down the exact time and date the commenter was using it……….

He then opines that the application of Occam’s Razor results in bullet point #2 being the most likely scenario. I disagree and will add a 5th possibility. None of the above.

Items #3 and #4 are the scenarios with the least number of participants and do not require anyone on the inside of NOLA Media Group/Advance Publications to be a party to the deed.  Occam’s Razor would indicate item #3 as the most likely scenario of the bunch but Occam’s Razor is not definitive.  I’ll take credit for item #4 being in Jason’s post though he misstates the scenario I laid out slightly. Before I get to that we need to begin laying out the timeline:

December 2010: Several individuals in the US Attorney’s Office strongly suspect and discuss Sal Perricone commenting on NOLA.com.

Former AUSA Magner was placed under oath,25 and indicated that he first learned that his former AUSA colleague, Perricone, might be posting on nola.com as “legacyusa” in or around December 2010.

This above is from the Order and reasons by US District Court Judge Krut Engelhardt, USA v Kaufman et al Document #1070, page 21 on the commenter scandal.

January 2011: Slabbed New Media begins publishing the emails of the Jefferson Parish Council along with covering new developments in the Waste Management Racketeering Suit against River Birch. The Major news story regarding the landfill that month was Jefferson Parish’s re-evaluation of the projected savings to the Parish for closing its own landfill early and using River Birch and the major PR push River Birch engaged to discredit the Parish’s evaluation. Salient Slabbed post include:

It is those last few posts that contained the most damning information in the now infamous Dutchie Connick memo to his bosses at Waste Management detailing what strongly appears to be a criminal conspiracy between the Broussard Administration and the River Birch Landfill. The information was damning to the Landfill, which was then conducting what we now know was their usual coordinated PR campaign to discredit their perceived foes and eliminating them, if possible.  It was this coordinated campaign that Glenn Smith of Affinity Dynamics worked as a hired gun for Fred Heebe including participation the hunt for the mystery International House commenter.  It is a certainty Smith was not the lone member of the Heebe PR team.

This brings me back to Jason’s #4 possibility of the keylogger being installed on the International House computer.  In its proper context word was already out that Sal Perricone was playing on the internet courtesy of Mike Magner and his superiors that he notified including Maurice Landrieu. Numerous sources including former employees of the Times Picayune indicated to Slabbed the fact Perricone was posting became an open secret well before Fred Heebe filed his defamation suit against him in the spring of 2012.  The chatter most certainly began with those internal discussions in the US Attorney’s office sparked by Magner’s observations to his bosses.

The International House is located around the corner from the Federal Courthouse and its guest computer was easily accessible to anyone that walked in off the street.  It would be a logical place for someone from officialdom to pop in and out of to leave comments on NOLA without using an official IP address and a keylogger would be easy to install.  So what is my fixation with Keystroke logging malware?  Because it explains how Fred Heebe could get the information on the International House mystery commenter and have almost complete plausible deniability due to the fact anyone off the street could literally walk in and use the computer which taints the cyber trail. It is a low cost, low risk sort of proposition with a potentially high payoff.

At this point we need to review this and other recent posts on Slabbed to establish the points that I am trying to make on the time period from December 2010 to early February, 2011 with the benefit of hindsight:

  1. Word was out as early as December 2010 that Sal Perricone was posting to NOLA.com
  2. The River Birch Landfill was in the PR fight of its life trying to salvage its contract with Jefferson Parish,  a topic Slabbed was covering in detail.
  3. Waste Management was unleashing a salvo of damning legal documents in its racketeering suit against River Birch including the Dutchie Connick memo.
  4. Slabbed broke the Garland Robinette real estate grand jury subpoena.
  5. Slabbed was publishing emails from Parish Council members.

But there is one other thing that happened in this general time frame that pre-dates these events by a few months. The FBI raid on River Birch’s headquarters on September 23, 2010.  I suspect it was leaks from the evidence collected during that raid that Heebe was looking for with his cyber sleuthing and I can think of only two media outlets which would have been of interest to him at the time, NOLA.com and Slabbed New Media. This brings me to the point of this post, the fact that I was notified by the FBI that Slabbed New Media was the potential victim of a cyber crime. Given the events surrounding the International House mystery commenter witch hunt we can certainly infer from a look at past events the people that would have motivation to hack and/or obtain access to information from Slabbed’s database to obtain IP and email addresses.  Who would be the type of people that Fred Heebe would hire for the task?  We look to the New Orleans Personal Computer Club circa January, 2009 for clues:

jan-nl09

Danny Abel and Chris Yount? Yount is a well known Goatherder and example of the kind of weak minded misfits Abel collects. Yount is described by sources that know him personally as a “drone” or Abel’s “personal goon”.  And here are Abel and Yount offering their services for sale in early 2009, well before the Jefferson Parish scandal broke, in an area of specialty that would later be utilized by Fred Heebe to hunt his online detractors.  This brings me back to the use of Keyloggers as we examine the civil suit Yount v Research Specialists on the types of cyber tools used in the trade:

Yount v Research Specialists Excerpt 1

Wow, the guy worked there for less than 2 months but man was it action packed!

Yount v Research Specialists Excerpt 2

Who else was Chris emailing?

Yount v Research Specialists Excerpt 3

I get the feeling Chris was a plant by his lawyer Danny Abel to file a such a suit as one of Abel’s professional plaintiffs, and so it was done.  Yount is a private investigator and certainly no babe in the woods in the dark arts of using the internet invade people’s privacy through the use of tactics such as pretexting or the installation of Keylogging malware.  The names on the suit as Yount’s attorneys of record are Clayton Burgess and Lauren Ladet but a close examination of the pleading and civil cover sheet reveals the person behind it:

Yount v Research Specialists Excerpt 4

This brings me to the next point I gotta make as the Concrete Busters Racketeering lawsuit against River Birch alleged the following business were actively operating as co conspirators with Fred Heebe and the River Birch Landfill PR Team:

These are business with which Danny Abel and his partners Charles Leary and Vaughn Perret are intimately connected. Worth noting is Attorney Peter Butler Jr., a name at the epicenter of the corruption scandal is a prominent investor of Trout Point Lodge, while his father Peter Sr. served as Jim Ward’s and Fred Heebe’s personal attorney until the day the FBI raided River Birch’s headquarters thus the cross pollination possibilities are as plentiful as the business relationships are close. Other names that have surfaced owing land in what Federal prosecutors later describe as a conduit for a corrupt bribery scheme include Cary Goss, who was an unindicted co-conspirator in the prosecution of former Governor Edwin Edwards for his role in trying to wiretap FBI agents investigating the former Governor’s sale of river boat gaming licenses. The bottom line is there are lots of connections between Team River Birch and Team Goatherder which is why the following allegation contained in the Concrete Buster’s racketeering suit is huge given what we now know:

And indeed the merit-less SLAPP suits from team Goatherder have not stopped since.

As I said in Part 1 of this series Slabbed New Media is fully cooperating with the FBI in their cyber crime investigation. There is so much I want to say but can’t as I do not want to endanger the investigation. That said in the final installment of this series Slabbed will examine the SLAPP suit Charles Leary, Vaughn Perret and Trout Point Lodge filed against Louisiana Media Company aka Fox 8 for clues where I think investigators should look for evidence of illegal acts.

12 thoughts on “Slabbed examines the harassment of private citizens expressing their opinion on Jefferson Parish Corruption: Part 2

  1. Incroyable

    And there goes another glass house. Well done Doug!

    Sal Perricone told the court that he did not trust NOLA.com and could not recall some of the phrasing attributed to his posts – he speculated that someone else could have written these under his user name.

    Is that going on at Slabbed?

    Reply
  2. On A Steed

    Truly fascinating!

    I would like to know, not being a lawyer, specifically which or what laws would have been broken and what the penalties would be for the violation(s)?

    I feel sure NB can lay that out.

    The other thought I have is that there don’t seem to be many layers of insulation and when the musical chair game begins there aren’t going to be many seats, if you know what I mean?

    Looks like I have more reading to do. Thanks, Doug and BTW, this reminds me of an old french saying – “Shove it up their ass, Pierre.”

    Reply
  3. The Empire Parish

    Butler, the name rings a bell in connection with the Plaquemines Parish Kleptocracy. Apparently they get around quite well.

    Doug, good connections. As you would note, once Sal was fingered, any character keeping tail on him could note any “in and out” into the hotel. And then “plug & play” the keystroker.

    Reply
  4. Dambala

    Wow…wow…and double Wow! Amazing work there, man. I’m up to my ears in Wisner shit but I’m glad I took the time out to read this.

    Sorry I didn’t originally credit you with #4….my bad.

    Reply
  5. muspench

    Good grief! Tracking in the wild due to comments posted about the material seized in the raid is entirely logical, and I got that far, but installing malware on the IH computer? THAT is radical, and it shocks me, because that’s a computer owned by someone else and designated for public use. A keylogger would violate the privacy of an undetermined number of people besides the desired user.

    I was trying to figure out exactly who would have been processing those documents (feds who took them, or third-party processing company?), and if anyone knows please pass that on. Heebe must have had some idea of the provenance of the person under surveillance, although since that person wasn’t supposed to be releasing the information, I’m not sure what protections would apply… unless, of course he DID have someone’s permission, which may not be an impossibility, given that we still don’t know why Jan Mann was so obdurate about leaving.

    P.S. Re Incroyable’s very interesting speculation, it’s quite true Sal is an outrageous liar, but if his logon info had been obtained and was used to post deliberate indiscretions, that would save the expense of paying him to do it (and I’ve never been entirely certain he wasn’t paid). :) But of course if someone else were using that logon from a different computer, then something would have to be done about the IP(s) that appeared on nola.com’s servers when those comments were made.

    Reply
    1. Doug Handshoe

      I am not saying material seized in the River Birch raid wasn’t leaked but I can say I have no knowledge of getting any such material. The Parish council emails could have come from one of 5 places if memory serves, the Robinette subpoena I explained. The rest of the documents came from the civil suit between Waste Management and the Landfill.

      It is possible Perricone ran his mouth about using the IH computer. Leaving comments from unencrypted wireless networks is easy, hacking a wireless network is very easy as well. Throw in coffee shops and your local McDonalds and the sky is the limit for commenting skullduggery. It was that environment that Heebe’s people operated.

      Is it possible he filed his suit after figuring out Perricone had to be using his work computer? I think that is likely.

      Reply
    2. muspench

      “I can say I have no knowledge of getting any such material”

      Aaaargh! Sorry about that, I didn’t at all mean to imply you received anything verboten. I was referring to my earlier train of thought (that Mr. IH could have been tracked to that public computer, based on his inclusion of seized material in his comments), but of course that was based on dates of seizure & comment of interest (September 2011 and January 2011 according to Gordon Russell, respectively), plus subject of comment (Dutchie Connick).

      AZ did suggest a keylogger, but that sounded SO brazen to me, and to hear you talking about it outrages what’s left of my battered sense of propriety after almost a year of the commenting scandal. :_) But you’re absolutely right, the computer was abandoned to the elements, as it were, left in a vulnerable position; there would be very little risk compared to the potential reward. What a perfectly foul thing to do, though– that’s right next door to stealing credit card info from the mag stripe.

      But all that’s subordinate to what you were getting at, the probability Slabbed was hacked as part of Heebe’s hunt for leaks of seized material, which also included the saga of Mr. IH and possible hacking of nola.com. I looked back & you said the FBI contacted you about the Slabbed hack in January (http://www.slabbed.org/2013/02/02/slabbed-examines-the-harassment-of-internet-commenters-and-fred-heebes-witch-hunt-for-private-citizens-expressing-their-opinion-part-1/comment-page-1/).

      Would the date(s) be in the same early 2011 timeframe, then? It might not be your own material, but maybe something said in comments that triggered the hack. I’m sure you had any number of interesting contributions surfacing in comments; I happened to notice Telemachus’ discussion of Dutchie in January 2011, but someone who knows your comments section thoroughly could pin down the probable bait in a definitive way.

      It would really be sweet if the feds trace your hack back to the goat pasture, though. :)

      Reply
      1. On A Steed

        Did you see “The Chirp’s” comment @ AZ?

        I regret now having read much of this from the start, but gee it has gotten very interesting.

        Given Broussard and the other cases in the pipeline, how far could all hell be from breakng?

        Maybe my youth will be relived with another Endless Summer?

        Give em hell Doug!

        P.S. How was a default ever taken? Was there notice? I know zero about applicable law, but I’m wondering how valuable such a judgement would be as it would relate to enforcement here.

        And going after WordPress, how is that going to work for them? This stuff seems stranger than fiction.

        Excepting for the cost, I would give them a taste of their own medicine. Of course the problem being only the lawyers win.

        Were you told you were hacked, or does software run in the background that provides a report of suspicious activity. Regardless, I hope they are nailed. Like M, I can overlook many trangressions, but some things do more than shock the conscience and demand retribution.

        Reply
        1. Doug Handshoe

          I have to be careful about disclosing what we think happened. I have noted anomalies in the comment tables of the backend database, such as my gravitar showing up on other commenters.

          I have also noted corruption issues in the comment tables associated with certain commenters but it could be indicative of many things. Remember the Goatherders have successfully had me knocked off two webhosts and moving the blog around could have caused some of those issues.

          That said I will demonstrate in Part 3 one way commenter information was fraudulently obtained because I have unraveled that part of the mystery.

          It will roll tomorrow and hopefully will give everyone a clue as to the type of leads the FBI is following.

          Reply
      2. muspench

        Ha! You mean the comment where he thought the fact my muspench accounts appear on all the advance.net servers, just like all OTHER nola.com accounts do, means I am “monitoring other Newhouse publications and other blogs in multiple states”? Snort! :) He has also bestowed upon me a brand new “degree in criminal investigations” and altered my resume, however improbably, to include NOPD.

        So yes, saw that and transferred my answer to an old nola.com thread to avoid bludgeoning that thread to death with pointless stupidity, also sent an apologetic e-mail to the blog owner, but thank you SO much for letting me know– I really appreciate that. :_)

        I enjoyed this picture (“River Birch Landfill was in the PR fight of its life”): Heebe thought he’d purchased most of South Louisiana, and the JP business was so close to completion, then suddenly the floodwaters reach a sandy spot in his levee and leaks burst out everywhere. The Waste Management documents are public record, Slabbed is posting, Sal & co. are commenting on nola.com, and it’s all falling apart (like All The King’s Men when Willie Stark’s life collapses).

        Reply
  6. don't make me sing

    “If it is life that you feel you are missing I can tell you where to find it. In the law courts, in business, in government. There is nothing occurring in the streets. Nothing but a dumbshow composed of the helpless and the impotent.” Cormac McCarthy

    I took my computer to a computer repair store in March of 2011 to see if they could run a test to see if someone had been keylogging. They did. Nothing showed up, although I felt sure I was being tracked in all aspects of my life. Not all of us have the knowledge and wherewithal to protect ourselves and our families adequately. And I’m sure none of us want to mess up a fed investigation, but we are sitting ducks out here waiting to find out what is going on.

    We cannot PLAN well without information! Thank you for all you’re doing to throw light on the people playing hardball. Bring it home to Hancock County, Mr. Handshoe!

    Reply

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