Who dunnit ? Let’s solve the DEQ / BP City of D’Iberville Ocean Expo grant mystery (Updated)

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:

I think the answer might be Bill Walker with the DMR….

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.

New questions:

  • 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?

Update:

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.

10 thoughts on “Who dunnit ? Let’s solve the DEQ / BP City of D’Iberville Ocean Expo grant mystery (Updated)”

  1. Lots more to come on these things folks!

    At this point (with Doug’s indulgence) I’d like to take the opportunity to solicit tips of the LLC nature.

    The name of the LLC, with a brief explanation of why it might be interesting to take a look at, in some cases all it takes to make it interesting might be the politically or criminally connected name. Post it up or send it to Doug.

    1. I would like a vowel please. Oh that’s right there are no vowels in LLC. You are sending us a subliminal message aren’t you rfp. I will be up all night on the SoS website trying to match crooks/politicians and LLCs. 10 years ago this kind of fun was impossible to have because it was not online. You go on to bed honey ,I will be there in a bit (practicing talking to the little woman) . I am on it.

  2. The grant itself peaks my interest. http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/press/press-releases/bp-announces-second-block-grant-of-25-million-to-the-state-of-mississippi.html. Governor Barbour? Okay, let’s say he delegated.

    Then, http://www.deq.state.ms.us/newweb/MDEQPres.nsf/67c62401c0604ea286256b29005abada/901a36a5f7e598bf86257935004d55f2?OpenDocument

    “We” are going to use these funds to relieve the “immediate” impact of the BP disaster. Right then,

    http://www.dmr.state.ms.us/joomla16/images/news-archive/2010/prblockgrant.pdf

    Applications will be reviewed by a Technical Efficiency Committee…and the Executive Directors of the MDMR and MDEQ. I’d like to know who sat on the TEC, but we know who got the final say so.

    Click the link to “Sub-grant form” for the block grant. First, how about section 7.19 – “The Sub-Grantee represents that it has not retained a person to solicit or secure a State contract upon an agreement or understanding for a commission, percentage, brokerage, or contingent fee, except as disclosed in the Sub-Grantee ‘s bid or proposal.” Didn’t the City of D’Iberville folks read this paragraph? City Council and Mayor alike should go straight to jail and not pass go for authorizing any finder’s fee let alone one that turned out to be pure graft.

    Lastly, look whose name is pre-printed to sign the sub-grant on behalf of MDMR…William Walker.

    1. Raul, that is some good information. You are correct the city of D’Iberville leaders either did not have a clue about what they were doing or they were all in. Further proof of this is the price paid for the land where Ocean Expo was to be located or all of the other things Moby Solangi got them to agree to after he got off of his flying carpet and hypnotized them. Sort of a special regional movie version of Ali Baba meets D’umb, D’umber, D’umbest, You will be happy to know that the MsDEQ used section 7.19 as one of their reasons to demand the return of the money given as a grant for Ocean Expo in the amount of $3,000,000 to the City of D’Iberville. That is the same one Scott Walker did not help secure but got paid anyway because he is Scott Walker. We all need to keep digging until we find out who secured the money from the honey at DEQ. I love a rat hunt.

  3. I don’t have time to put this together with all the links, so I will use “If I Recall Correctly or IIRC” to caution the need to prove me right or wrong on the following.

    IIRC there were 2 special sessions of the MS Leg in 2010. The proposed lease of D’Iberville owned land to IMMS required leg approval, (as did other D’Iberville land leases) and again IIRC said approval (for Ocean Expo at least) had failed on at least one prior occasion. Understanding whatever deals might have gone on behind the scenes may require looking at the other proposals which were either moving forward, or being stalled. Again, IIRC, some if not all had hung in committee prior to the Second Special.

    Well like this story said back then:

    D’IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX)

    1. Also I don’t have time to find it, but IIRC this Aquarium was on at least one occasion described by interested parties as privately funded or some such.

  4. My Fellow Americans,

    The question was asked “where in the hell is Stacy Pickering?”

    That is an outstanding question which has proven to be almost impossible to answer.

    Over the course of a year or so we have heard him make comments regarding how he does not have the resources (or other excuses) to audit every agency each year. Although, I would tend to believe this without question but still think that is a simplified excuse full of holes. In the investigation and inspection world, there are many variables involved. If resources are low one should immediately employ a method of ORM. In the auditors case, it appears that there should have been some kind of audit schedule or plan in place. Being in the field I am employed, there is no excuse for the DMR not to have been audited within the last 10 years. If I may state my own opinion, I believe it was not audited on purpose.

    From reading comments and articles in the news, it certainly appears the Pickering Clan has no problem waxing low level state employees throughout the state. However, we don’t seem to see any big fish caught with the larger, more prominent organizations.

    I know from personal observations that ways of doing day to day business in state government are not always up with the times. What I mean by this is that there are still methods employed which require the use of good old paperwork completed in pen and ink that only require a signature to be processed. These methods have no electronic tracking and are often subject to foul play, devious activity, honest accidents and stupid mistakes. This type of behavior is also generally quantifiable, measurable and tends to show a chronic trend across different agencies within an overall population. Give or take an auditable attribute or situation here and there.

    So where is Stacy Pickering? I beleive he is probably somewhere protecting his friends and finding new ways to hang low level employees so he looks like he has a solid operation functioning. Lower level state employees generally do not have the resources to fight against him unlike others. Others who have not been audited

    Soon we may all see just how sharp he and his auditing team really are.

  5. MY FELLOW EYE SPY, I have asked the same question many times. As far as the DMR scandal is concerned Pickering has interacted only once long enough to forgive his demand for $1,074,519.97. As we know the demand was made to the Marine Resource Foundation and its officers, directors, members. Instead of paying one penny out of pocket these people gave two 30 year old boats that had been donated to the CONprofit and retrofitted with taxpayer funds. In other words these gentlemen did not repay one penny. Then at the sale of these antiques certain equipment was removed and shelved at the DMR warehouse. They were credited an inflated amount to make it look like something was really accomplished and the balance was forgiven. Stacey Pickering had the nerve to call a press conference and pretend he was a victor in this matter when in reality he was a dunce. He has not offered the same deal to anybody else that I can find in the state. There are many examples of individuals going to prison and paying full restitution for the misuse of less than $30,000 of the publics money. Not only has there not been an audit of the DMR for over 10 years, when Bill Walker was exposed for wrong doing by the Sunherald and Slabbed he did not even follow thru with his own demand. Why you ask? In my opinion this all follows a path to very powerful and connected people who are being protected. If we had access to the books of the Marine Resource Foundation and could follow the money used for campaign donations we may be able to tell who benefitted. Stacey Pickering will not act, this is already obvious. Look who got indicted by the state and for what? Pennies compared to Walker and his associates. His “dear friends” who control him and decide his political destiny have him on a very tight leash only allowing for the periodic press conference about the indictment of a school clerk or county road foreman that he is going to bring to justice. He is a great example why politicians are perceived to be lower than a snakes belly by the public.

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