A couple of thoughts on yesterday’s River Birch bombshell

I’ve been pretty speechless since I heard about this because I have NEVER seen anything like this in 17 years with the federal government. NEVER saw the government let someone off the hook by publicly announcing that they are NOT going to indict him OR publicly stating that they were ending an investigation. Of course, the government closes investigations all the time–but NOT with a public announcement.

It is so highly unusual that I think there must be something HUGE uncovered in the DOJ investigation. First of all the announcement is from the Public Integrity Section, DOJ. From that I deduce the Prosecutorial misconduct is so massive or widespread that don’t want it presented as a defense in federal court. And they are letting high level targets off scot free because of it.

I’m guessing this has gone way beyond Perricone and Mann. Was the online commenting widespread in the office and/or included other high profile federal employeees such as federal law enforcement agents? Have they now learned that this is a problem in other USAOs? Or does it mean that was Letten personally involved? Whatever it is, it should come out and it’s going to be ugly.

The rumor mill has steadfastly maintained at least one more assistant US Attorney commented along with a sitting Judge. I think it is about way more than that however:

I was asked if I got any leaks from politicians.

It was clear to me that Team Horn was looking at more than just the Danziger Bridge shooting case. The question of getting leaks on the investigation from politicians has stuck with me since that day because it was so far out in left field from what we knew from media reports and the local rumor mill at the time. I do know this, the peeps with whom I speak including my best sources never underestimated Fred Heebe:

I would highly urge everyone to read Judge Engelhardt’s entire 50 page order and reasons to see first hand what a mess liars that continue to lie can make.  BTW, before everyone clammed up the Wino did tell me she thinks Fred Heebe has another hole card to play.  All I can say is get the pop corn ready ’cause if that’s true, then we have more episodes of Beavis and Butthead coming.

In hindsight the micro signals were all there. I think the spectacle of Aaron BrousStar’s sentencing gave us a sneak peek at what was coming.  Incroyable as noted by Empire Parish nailed the source of Judge Head’s discomfort:

Broussard has started his ‘I am not a crook’ show and it is based on ‘you didn’t catch me’ thus ‘I am not guilty’.

The problem as Judge Head pointed out is there hasn’t been a proper and thorough investigation.

Considering “the paper trail glowed in the dark” I wondered why there was such an emphasis on squeezing Dominick Fazzio.  Besides the obvious I think it is clear the people at Team Letten charged with bagging this prosecution were in way over their heads:

Hanlon’s Razor is an eponymous adage that reads:

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

IMHO the problem was never one of evidence.  I think it very likely the FBI empowered the prosecution team with truckloads of information.  At the end of the day, village idiots empowered with information are still idiots.

The list of talented lawyers that has joined and then left the NOLA US Attorney’s office is amazing for those that possess a bit of knowledge about the historical workings of that office.  Back in 2010, when I heard Mike Magner had been sent to Siberia after his name appeared in a Times Picayune story about the coming prosecution, I expressed discomfort to a couple of contributors.  In hindsight that discomfort was the first clear signal the prosecution was in trouble.

I’ll have more as time allows.  As the Wino would say this is a multifaceted diamond.  In respects some things never change except the cast of characters. Fred Heebe knew his opponents better than they knew themselves.  At the end of the day it was the key to victory.

41 thoughts on “A couple of thoughts on yesterday’s River Birch bombshell”

  1. Most Memorable Quotes

    “This might be my last quote,” the loquacious Broussard told reporters upon arrival at the U.S. District Courthouse in New Orleans. “At 23 years old, I came into politics as a dragon slayer. At 63 years old, I’m going out as a dragon.” Aaron Broussard

    “The best way to beat an opponent is to knock him out before he gets in the ring,” Fazzio’s attorney, Arthur “Buddy” Lemann, said. “I came into this case as a hornet and I’m going out as a dragon slayer.” Arthur “Buddy” Lemann

  2. Actually they entered as Douchebags and they left as even bigger douchebags…..

    So what happens to the Waste Management vs. River Birch lawsuits now? And is anyone checking on the spending habits of certain scumbags that used to work for the DOJ in town? I am guessing all this stuff just didnt happen at random…this seems very well orchestrated.

    1. I reckon now that DOJ has ended their investigation the stays will be lifted and Waste Management v Fred Heebe is on. The motion to not stay the proceedings in the Concrete Busters case is now moot.

      Fred Heebe cleared the gravest threat he faced but he still has a few more battles to fight.

      1. Now one wonders if the DOJ investigation leads them to query how many “workers” were intentionally conflicted to destroy a case, given the ease with which may took the dumpmeister’s silver ….

  3. I am at a loss to understand the DOJ decision to “announce” that charges will not be pursued against Heebe. NOLA Born had astutely commented that it was likely that the depth of the dirt in-house with the US Attorney’s office was so overwhelming that DOJ simply decided that, rather than allow all of the dirty laundry in public, they would simply pull the plug; that is the only rational way to explain the decision.

    However, the people of the metro NOLA area are once again given the short end of the stick and things will continue on as they have in the past in the Big Easy. It disgusts me to think that the likes of Tommy Capella and Chris Roberts, as well as Tom Wilkinson, were intimately involved in allowing River Birch’s “woody waste” contract morph into a multi-million dollar landfill agreement that shoved Waste Management into the backseat (not that Waste Management probably had clean hands either, but that is a different story). The evidence shows that there was skullduggery in the signing of that contract, and it was only a matter of showing the quid pro quo to seal up an indictment and conviction.

    Label me a cynic who has lost faith in the system.

    1. Re decision: Oyster found a statement from Lemann suggesting Mann and Perricone lied about the nature of Fazzio’s meeting with prosecutors, deleted a recording of that meeting, and big DOJ folded when Judge Chasez said she’d order the FBI to turn the recorder over to the defense for examination. And in a further effort to conceal the meeting, Jim Mann altered the building’s sign-in log to remove the signatures of Fazzio & Titus (wwl.com/More-prosecutorial-misconduct-behind-DOJ-River-Bir/15752356).

      I imagine that could bugger a case in a fairly satisfactory manner. Lemann first brought up that meeting in his first motion to dismiss, come to think of it, and Berrigan turned him down. I’d like to know exactly when the new boys realized what was going on there, because I would hate to think they knew and still tried to proceed. :/

      1. M,
        The who knew what and when is a great question!

        Have you considered that the log sheets and the pen aren’t going away? Which begs another question, who would make a great (ahem, I’m reluctant to use this word)scapegoat?

        Some of the guys and girls around the cell block may be looking in the rearview mirror at the car following them when they run into the wall.

        Sounds like a recipe for disaster. I know I have that one somewhere…I know I filed it under a for abysmal, or was it s for stupid, no that wasn’t it. Maybe it was s for shitheads? No, no, not that, oh now I remember it was filed under a.s.s., my shorthand for those that can’t read writings on walls.

        I’ve got a pen somewhere. Oh here it is. Is this thing on? Is this thing on? Should I just speak into the flowerpot.

        There should be plenty of leftovers for those that lick em up right.

        Do disasters or recipes come in threes? I can never remember.

  4. In the Mississippi extortion plot against the Marie family the DOJ and even the state was just to busy blowing our dough to inform anyone of the state sponsored criminal actions of a certain group so we were left to make the same type of announcement for them, that the states are allowing some folks the run of court corruption as it protects them and hangs others. The reason for the connect a dot system of government we have today. Dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

  5. Cheer up … there is good news too …

    Now the stay orders in the Civil RICO cases that Waste Management, Concrete Busters, et al have against River Birch can go forward … and the first order of discovery is to depose the following individuals:

    1) Fred Heebe

    2) Jim Ward

    3) Dominic Fazzio

    4) Tim Whitmer

    5) Tom Wilkinson

    6) Aaron Broussard

    7) Dutchie Connick

    8) Peter Butler, Sr.

    9) Peter Butler, Jr.

    10) Deano Bonano

    11) Byran Lee

    12) Elton Lagasse

    13) Chris Roberts

    14) Tom Capella

    15) Jennifer Sneed

    16) Gwen Bolette

    17) David Fos

    18) Alan Gandolfi

    19) Peggy Barton

    20) Louis Gruntz, Jr.

    And that

    1. I’m not sure. On the civil side, they might have been sitting back waiting for the prosecutors to do their work for them. With the criminal convictions, the civil case would be simple. Present certified copies of the convictions and move on to damages.

      Now they have to prove the whole thing, produce the witnesses against these folks (without benefit of pleas agreements to force cooperation). It could happen but it’s a whole different ball game now.

      1. Actually the opposite is true. Sean Alfortish was not prosecuted until the civil case reached the point where Letten’s office could no longer to pretend to ignore what was going on in the 24th JDC.

        Waste Management has the deep pockets it will take to take on Fred Heebe. Whether they do that is an entirely different matter. Every indication from the court record indicates Concrete Busters wants to get it on with River Birch. We’ll see.

        1. You are correct, sir. Good civil lawyers don’t rely on prosecutors to prove their civil cases for them. If it happens, great. But you don’t need a criminal conviction to prove a case by a preponderance of the evidence.

          1. think the Dell case re the Meffert/St.Pierre IT scandal that [email protected] pounded on … Letten had no intention to prosecute those two POSs until his back was up against the wall after the civil trial … fortunately Letten and his evil posse resigned so the DOJ could move in to indict Nagin a week before prescription had run … Letten’s legacy is a disgrace unfolding … Tulane Law School needs to cut it’s losses ASAP …

        2. You and I said it long ago – Waste Management ain’t no joke. Mouton, Broussard, etc. are now going to have to name some names. No more “Landfill Owner A”. We’ll soon find out if it was even Heebe or Ward!

          1. Mouton, Broussard, etc. are now going to have to name some names.

            And Whitmer and Wilkinson and everyone else on ‘Gate’s list, self admitted felons all.

          2. Would it violate any terms of their plea/sentence if the felons were to invoke the 5th during their depositions?

  6. The civil suits by WM and Concrete Busters will die on the vine. As stated above, they all have dirty laundry that would be very inconvenient to lay out to the public. Heebe will pay off both sides, WM will buy out River Birch and everyone will return to their respective corners and continue to operate. Business as usual. Money will continue to line the pockets of JP Pols. Move on folks. There is nothing to see here.

  7. Lets not forget it was Holder sending his asst.DOJ guy down here in person to force Letten to prosecute the Danzinger case, right in the middle of the Heebe case, despite the fact Letten said his office was compiling evidence and was eventually going to prosecute the Danzinger case.

    I’m speculating the DOJ saw that the Eastern District’s prosecutorial conduct was affecting the Danzinger case,didn’t want the Danzinger convictions all thrown out so decided to can Letten ,throw the Heebe case( bath water) out but to try to save the baby(Danzinzer).

    To me Holder’s desired prosecution of a civil rights violation case is more important to him and his boss than any white collar crime anytime.

    1. Excellent point. IF that was the trade off, I agree Holder and DOJ would choose Danzinger (so would I)!

  8. Amazing how everyone posting thinks this is some kind of game. The media, especially the Times Enquirer, pervert articles to portray unconvicted American Citizens as common criminals and like a herd of sheep everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Did you ever even begin to think that Fred Heebe is just simply innocent? Or does the historical picture of Mr. Heebe adorning a tabloid’s slanted articles sublimly invoke a feeling of jealousy and contempt from simple-minded individuals that cannot comprehend success that hard work begets. I suspect the latter. And for the record, Manual Torres and Gordon Russell are no more than literary paparazzi working for a part time newspaper as they certainly don’t practice journalism

      1. Disgusted, as a practitioner & believer in individual liberties I take no back seat to anyone on assailing DOJ abuses. However, something is truly remiss here, given the interaction between rent seekers and kleptocrats. Again, the DOJ reminds me of Andrei Vyshinsky writ large, but for anyone to “play” the kleptocracy game as did the Jefferson gang beggars the imagination.

    1. Disgusted: Your quote “… articles sublimly (sic)invoke a feeling of jealousy and contempt from simple-minded individuals that cannot comprehend success that hard work begets”

      By “hard work” do you mean:
      1. Getting your wife on the JP Council at the time when the garbage deal is being developed
      2. Paying Mouton over $400,000
      3.Paying Garlandfill $250,000
      4. Forming dummy corporations to spread hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicos throughout the State in violation of Stats Ethics

      I see a paparazzi and its you trying to “picture” River Birch as a typical, hard working business which has succeeded by just picking up garbage efficiently and economically.

    1. These shocking, unprecedented announcements by the feds portend more ugly revelations. This Nola.com | The Times-Picayune story on the fallout and history of the River Birch landfill probe includes quotes from Rosenberg who raised the specter of prosecutorial misconduct, perhaps on the scale that took place against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

      A partial description happened in the Stevens Prosecution:


  9. And we have a BIG shout-out from Mark Moseley/Oyster to lockem and NB for their astute & helpful remarks highlighting different aspects of the Letten debacle. 🙂 For lockem:

    “Slabbed commenter ‘lockemuptight’ speculates that the misconduct was so rampant that it was ‘affecting the Danziger case,’ and the Department of Justice decided to cut its losses before embarrassments in a River Birch trial affected the Danziger Bridge decisions. These days, I share that suspicion,”

    and for NB, a second requote of the terrific comment showcased by Doug, namely:

    “a post at Slabbed blog (which has been an indispensable resource from the start of the River Birch saga) promotes a quote from commenter ‘NOLA born’:

    I have NEVER seen anything like this in 17 years with the federal government. NEVER saw the government let someone off the hook by publicly announcing that they are NOT going to indict him OR publicly stating that they were ending an investigation. … I think there must be something HUGE uncovered in the DOJ investigation.

    1. Good morning Mus. I have Mark’s piece on my extensive to do list. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

    2. Muspench: I thank you and Mark but throw my hat-tip by Mark back to da’ Coach of the SlabbedNation, Doug Handshoe,who fathered this great nation with his brainy ex- Asst.Coach, Nowdy, and continues to draft and seek players who desire to score points in the interest of ” Liberty and Justice for All”.

      And you Muspench and NolaBorn were Doug’s most recent,free-agent acquisitions. Cograds to you both.

  10. Sorry I haven’t beeen here for a while. Thanks so much to Doug and Slabbed for this open forum. Muspench, I am ALWAYS enlightened and challenged by your comments–thank you for inviting me here (and there). And, Lock thanks for the kind words.

    I guess now we all wait more or less patiently for the DOJ report to the Court.

  11. Just a FYI to the group, news is that Lagniappe Industries aka Whitmer and the local political directorate aka Jefferson Parish Government will both undergo a 1442 deposition on insurance policies in the Katrina related flooding case. Should prove interesting to taxpayers as to what their money “bought” over the years.

  12. The other post I meant to reference was, “Gotta give both Fred Heebe and the Wino their due

Comments are closed.