Other letters were written by Whitmer’s wife, their two daughters and the fiance of one daughter; his brother, Charles Whitmer, former deputy police chief in Gretna, and Charles Whitmer’s wife; Henry Trapani, the parish’s retired citizens services director; D.J. Mumphrey Jr., an executive assistant to Coulon; Feleciano “Junior” Mendoza, who was Jefferson Parish human resources director as well as Whitmer’s middle-school principal; Angela Pacaccio Darvin, who worked 30 years in the parish president’s office; Jimmy Frickey, who is married to a former subordinate of Whitmer; Randy Cousin, a longtime friend who runs an industrial supply company where Whitmer has worked the past 2½ years; Sarah Gibson, a friend; the architect Billy Sizeler; and tourism businessman Warren Reuther Jr.
Drew Broach did an excellent job detailing Tim Whitmer’s “firehouse” friends late last month, some of whom share common roots in the Jefferson Parish political cesspool. No doubt everyone noted that I emphasized Sarah Gibson and her letter above, whom Broach described as a Whitmer friend. True dat because she obviously is per her own words. But Mrs Gibson’s letter is cleverly wordsmithed, for lack of a better term or perhaps “written to the inside”, a term folks like my internet BFF Russell over Reflexiones Finales has applied to Slabbed. Let’s start with her letter to Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon:
So Sarah’s husband is very close to Tim Whitmer being the Godfather to Tim’s eldest daughter. Sarah’s husband is Jefferson Parish Parks and Recreation Director Clinton “C.J.” Gibson, who according to Parish salary records draws a $124,000 plus annual salary. Parks and Recreation is also the cesspool from whence Tim Whitmer came so I guess it was only natural that when Parish Engineering Department refused to pay double what they thought was the proper amount for Change Order #5, he turned to his old friend C.J. Gibson in Parks and Recreation to handle the financial aspects of these specious transactions. A step further, turning the financial aspects of a major construction project over to the people running the playground is nonsensical and the fact the employees whose normal job duties refused to have anything to do with a transaction that was essentially doubled tells the whole tale and it stinks worse than a roadkill skunk in the July Pineville Louisiana summer heat. I highlighted the salient part of page 23 of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s compliance audit on the center, the entirety of which can be found clicking here:
The next page betrays Tim Whitmer’s legendary institutional knowledge of Jefferson Parish Government, a natural since he had the CAO position for so long. You see folks, if you know the operations of Parish Government like the back of your hand and have the ability to override the system, which Whitmer not only had but did when it came to the Performing Arts Center Project, then the door is open to all manner of chicanery including illegal activity and one would have to be extremely charitable to not think something very bad happened with this change order #5 for its price to be doubled and the internal control system overridden to insure it was paid at the inflated price. I mention this because the finger pointing caused by Whitmer’s management override of the internal control system is classic and nowhere is it better illustrated on the next page of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report:
Again the finger pointing above in explanation of these vendor overpayments is classic. At this point allow me to highlight some of my professional expertise and explain a concept well known inside the audit community in the overpayment/kickback scheme:
One very common corruption scheme is a kickback. This requires someone on the inside of the company to participate in the fraud along with vendor. From the book:
A kickback occurs when a company overpays for goods and services, and a vendor gives part or all of that overpayment to the perpetrator. It is often not difficult for a purchasing employee within a company to engage in a kickback scheme, which is why it is so important for a company to put good controls in place. Anyone who has the authority to award contracts or purchase products or services on behalf of the company is at risk for engaging in a kickback scheme. Other employees involved in the process of approving a contract, such as production managers, engineers, or quality control supervisors, are also at risk for receiving kickbacks.
The concept of double paying invoices shows a good bit in the JPAC project as the last paragraph on page 24 of the Compliance Audit report indicates. Here is the salient excerpt:
What is interesting about Carothers role in JPAC is Slabbed covered this company in detail in our Mississippi Beef Plant prosecution coverage. Sean Carothers was prosecuted in the Beef Plant Scandal as well and jailed. He turned prosecution witness and helped unravel the entire scheme. In the JPAC project his company was “doubled” and he refunded the overpayment. Carothers Construction was also fired by the Parish and replaced with Perrin and Carter, whose own role in the JPAC disaster is best described as instrumental. Could it be that doing the right thing cost Carothers this job? Let’s visit with this last excerpt from page 25 of that report to again see the impacts of Tim Whitmer’s management override giving this project to his friend CJ Gibson Parks and Recreation for safe handling:
The bottom line is we see here what an auditor would call “indicators” of a greatly “elevated fraud risk” in the chain of events the Louisiana Legislative Auditor is describing with JPAC. What makes kickback schemes so hard to prove in court is you really need one of the participants to squeal because if everyone keeps their mouths shut, it may look and smell super bad but gaining a criminal conviction is next to impossible. Team Letten supposedly had the man who knew where all the “bones were buried” but he has been sentenced indicating any investigation into JPAC died at the hands of Sal Perricone and Jan Mann. We’ll see.
Previous Slabbed Coverage of the Change Order 5 portion of the JPAC Disaster:
- Slabbed does a compare and contrast on Jefferson Parish Performing Arts Center change orders: Elton Lagasse has some ‘splaining to do.
- Clear as mud: JPAC gets line of credit, an affidavit and a PR push.