First the mystery:
If Gouras did not nab the grant and Maxwell-Walker did not nab the grant who in the heck helped the City of D’Iberville get that DEQ grant? Seems to me that $3,000,000 DEQ grants to build aquariums do not grow on trees here in Mississippi. Given Anita’s quotes from Team Walker, who attended the hearing, I imagine their spidey senses were tingling too, especially since Janus gave a qualified admission of guilt that required some clarification for Judge Starrett. Janus knoweth not what anyone from the DEQ or Gov’s office would say about that matter and he was right to clarify his admissions, as laid out in the factual basis of the Janus plea, which hopefully will hit PACER soon.
I just had a conversation with a source that I will describe as not a politician or member of the investigative community but who possesses specialized knowledge of the operations of the Barbour Administration. Biloxi Blues has come very close to nailing it in comments twice now:
Let’s tell the story as it was told to me. First up is a link I put out this morning on Twitter from the Sun Herald’s Mary Perez circa January 26, 2013:
Janus said he had written three letters to Gov. Haley Barbour’s office in an attempt to get funding, with no success……
I did not include the whopper Janus told immediately after the quote but now I understand exactly how the Government is planning to crush the Walkers, specifically Scott on the DEQ grant charges he now faces alone. My source indicate to me that Janus in fact tried much harder than writing three letters and in one instance the lobbying between he and a member of the Barbour Administration escalated into a “one way shouting match” with Mr. Janus doing the shouting as that particular discussion turned heated. When Janus gave up he turned to Bill Walker at DMR who lobbied Haley Barbour and his staff personally for the money.
So if we understand that part then this part of the Janus plea hearing begins to make more sense as told by the AP’s Jeff Amy:
When Starrett asked whether prosecutors’ account was true, Janus said: “To the best of my knowledge, these facts are true.”
That wasn’t a straightforward admission of guilt. After Janus explained that he didn’t know what officials from the Department of Environmental Quality and other agencies had told prosecutors, Starrett asked again if what prosecutors said was true, and Janus said “yes.”
This carries implications for the coming prosecution as it is entirely possible Bill Walker will become a hammer for the prosecution to use in the case against his son.
The other thing that continues to stick with me is the role of Mayor Quave and the D’Iberville City Council in this. Revisiting Mary Perez’s piece from a year ago (which I also originally highlighted) we find this:
“The six council members knew nothing of the agreement until after the grant was received,” said city attorney W. Fred Hornsby III. The council could have chosen not to pay Maxwell-Walker, he said, but agreed to give the firm the standard 6 percent finder’s fee of $180,000 for the grant.
The payment to Maxwell-Walker was not discussed in an open council meeting, only in executive session, Janus said.
Rather than putting a resolution for payment on the budget, it was added to the Dec. 20, 2011, docket of claims with the city’s other bills.
This is also very important because Anita Lee nailed it in her report on the Janus hearing:
Rushing said the city of D’Iberville signed a consulting agreement with the Gouras firm in January 2011. Janus asked Gouras in March if he would help Walker secure grant funds for the city. Gouras said he would, but then his firm had no role in landing a $3 million grant through the state for city work to support a proposed aquarium, Ocean Expo.
Janus announced the grant award at a November 2011 council meeting, Rushing said, thanking Gouras for his work. After Gouras refused to submit an invoice for $180,000 and give Walker 80 percent, Rushing said, Walker submitted the invoice.
At this point I’ll remind ya’ll that I have previously cautioned everyone that Federal prosecutors often stop very short and I think such it is clear in this case. AUSA Rushing was indeed very clear yesterday that Janus gave credit for nabbing the grant in an open City Council meeting to Gouras and then less than one month later the Mayor and D’Iberville City Council are in executive session with Mr. Janus figuring a way to get Maxwell-Walker Consulting the finders fee. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall inside the room that day with gang trying to figure out how to nab the loot. The technical term for the fact pattern laid out in the media and by the prosecutors is “concealment”.
Now at this point I feel like I’m caught in a time warp. Over Jefferson Parish way the Parish Prez has multiple bribery schemes going with all the gang hanging out financially together at the Resort at Trout Point Nova Scotia in multiple acts of concealment. Here on the coast the gang is evidently not so well traveled because certain of the players are hanging out together at the Columns Bar in Biloxi lined up like birds on a wire.
- Was Janus recently Queen for a day and did he cover the inside of that executive session where the money payment was approved by the City with Team Fed?
- What role did Mayor Quave working for Bill Walker at DMR play in the money payment to Maxwell Walker Consulting for a grant they never worked?
I still am not hopeful these issues will be addressed in the coming prosecution or any prosecution for that matter and that begs one last question.
- Where in the hell is Stacey Pickering?
Hot off the press is the Janus plea agreement. It appears to be the same one he was originally offered.
Also ECF #48 is missing from the case docket right now. If I had to guess that would be the Factual Basis of the Janus plea.