I recently introduced the contributor here. I’ll further generally describe this contributor as a former (pre Katrina) mid level employee of one of the various local governments in the metro New Orleans area that is now a private citizen. In other words way outta the game that unfolds before us today. This person, with the help of reporting by the Times Picayune, Slabbed, American Zombie etc has put together the beginnings of a timeline of the corruption scandal that I now share with you today.
There is one thing I must point out first though because there is a date that belongs on this timeline that is omitted because I’ve not yet shared it before today. What I mean by shared is I have not shared it in context so we must refer back to the following post I did on a Times Picayune story written by Manuel Torres way back in the day: Land swap to give landfill longer life – Council expected to approve proposal. IMHO NOLA needs to reactivate their link to that piece and all the related reporting as Slabbed has learned certain Public Records Requests are being denied on this very topic as it is evidently the subject of the ongoing Federal Grand Jury Investigation into Fred Heebe. Drum roll please as we roll out the players at that point in time:
Tim Coulon, Parish Prez
Aaron Broussard, Parish Council chairman
T.J. “Butch” Ward, Parish Councilman and brother to Albert “Jim” Ward, Fred Heebe’s stepdad.
OK folks have we thought about this enough? We have a federal subpoena out to the folks at NOLA Media Group asking for all the skinny on 11 internet commenters. One of the post Katrina NOLA police murder cases involving civilians is in danger of getting verdicts set aside. And the former Goatherder in Chief has asked for an evidentiary hearing. Days later Federal prosecutors contested Broussard’s motion arguing his guilty plea precluded such a line of inquiry. And then I started getting emails from observers with criminal defense experience and those off blog comments were enlightening. I’ll preface the rest of this post by saying I know very little about the practice of criminal law in the Federal Court system beyond the fact it is hard for a defendant to win at trial.
With that said there are some important points that were made and the first regards the Team Horn subpoena to NOLA Media Group for information on those 11 commenters. I’ll let a knowledgeable reader explain:
As part of their law enforcement mission the Feds can issue a subpoena to ensure that the law is being observed. They don’t need even a suspicion that the law may have been violated to issue a subpoena. That the newspaper is (1) objecting, (2) asking the Feds to disclose the basis for the subpoena, and (3) questioning whether the DOJ has authority to request the information under the Inspector General Act is curious and raises issues. For example, if the DOJ indulges the newspaper’s opposition and does not respond by saying, “Make the return on the subpoena or we’ll seek a contempt citation against your publisher.” it will indicate a lack of resolve and perhaps a political approach by the DOJ in the investigation.
Insofar as the merits are concerned, the paper can’t object, because it is not any of the commenters who have that right instead. The newspaper has no standing to act to ensure the DOJ is complying with law. That’s a right that belongs to the commenters and there’s no 1st Amendment issue involved. If there were it would have been asserted already. Furthermore, federal law enforcement need not give a basis for issuing the subpoena. They can issue a subpoena to check whether the law is being observed even without a suspicion of criminal activity. They need not give the basis to the newspaper. Asking for the basis for the subpoena is like asking for information so the paper can expand on the story. Thus, not only are the merits entirely in favor of the DOJ, the paper insulted the DOJ.
The newspaper is defending itself, not the commenters.
For true folks they are so named as the Concrete Busters lawsuit has been removed from the Orleans Parish CDC to the US District Court in New Orleans. My perusal of the docket indicates this case is filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as it looks to me like certain Goatherders are in BIG trouble. Slabbed’s previous coverage of this aspect of the larger corruption scandal in Jefferson Parish can be found by clicking here.
Click the pic to get the 4 page pdf of the removal.
Manuel Torres at NOLA Media Group has the latest on Titus:
Aiming to stay on the offensive in the River Birch probe, federal prosecutors are preparing a new indictment to pile on additional charges – and perhaps add new defendants – as early as Thursday, according to court testimony and sources close to the probe.
Mark Titus, who was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison on a conspiracy charge, is likely to be charged in the superseding indictment, said his attorney, Jimmy Ardoin. In court, Ardoin revealed that prosecutors have given him notice of their plans to file a new indictment soon.
Folks this is hot off the press. Click the pic to get the 54 page pdf.
Manuel Torres broke this story for the Nola Media Group but his headline needs work. He cuts straight to the heart of the matter and the allegations are explosive:
At least one former Jefferson Parish Council member took bribes from River Birch landfill in exchange for backing a now-defunct garbage deal with the firm, rival Waste Management claimed in an amended civil lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon.
The suit, which doesn’t name the council member, also says that former administrator Tim Whitmer and former Parish President Aaron Broussard “have also repeatedly accepted bribes.”
Something tells me all hell is fixing to break loose.
Lifers here know the deal but for you newbies I’ll point out that Slabbed broke Garland Robinette’s subpoena to the federal grand jury investigating political corruption way back in November, 2010 with a tease and straight out in March, 2011 (if memory serves). The gang over at the Times Picayune picked up the ball and did some excellent reporting on same as Garland Robinette’s opinions are evidently for sale to the highest bidder.
A few nights ago Fox 8 carried the latest developments with a 100% Team Garlandfill sourced report that rankled some of my readers. In the interest of presenting a complete picture I’d like to present yesterday’s story from the new NOLA Media Group on the same topic by Manuel Torres.
I’m not sure why Robinette wants to continue fleshing this topic out frankly because all the gyrations about there being a “loan” between him and Heebe are based solely on his unsupported assertions and I personally don’t believe a word the man says, especially since St Tammany Parish land and mortgage records did not indicate a mortgage was ever officially filed.
Finally Robinette’s self-serving rationalization about taking the money to build an art studio smacks of the exact type of self-entitled, pompous mindset we regularly skewer here at Slabbed. In Robinette’s case he violated the public’s trust.
If you’re a newbie I’d encourage you to run Garland Robinette’s name through the search box on the right sidebar to access Slabbed’s prior coverage of this portion of the massive political corruption scandal in metro New Orleans.
Did anyone notice Big Fred’s 60th birthday party at his palace on St. Charles last Friday? I bet it cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw. A drop in the bucket when you have River Birch. That public display of extravagance was a direct middle finger to the US Attorney’s Office and an indirect middle finger to the people of Waggaman who are dying and to the tax payers of Jeff Parish.
Worth noting in Broach’s report is this tidbit that is well worth repeating now:
Besides Broussard and his attorney, Robert Jenkins, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche were also in the courtroom. Letten has credited commission with helping the investigation.
This is today. But what were the Goatherders telling a gullible Canadian public days after their SLAPP suit against me was made official by Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Hood on the Trout Point Lodge Blog (now deleted)? It is an interesting compare and contrast:
On January 6, 2010, in what appears to be a classic example of gotcha journalism, an investigative reporter for New Orleans Fox 8 TV News named Val Bracy arranged to interview Broussard on camera related to the investigations. What she did not tell Broussard was that the President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission–a state-funded Crime Stopper Organization–provided Bracy with access to a complaint letter against Broussard that the Commission was sending that day to the Louisiana State Ethics Administration, which oversees the conduct of public officials.