To plea or not to plea? Mouton made his decision

Here we go, folks!  The Times-Picayune reports Henry Mouton begins plea talks to resolve landfill bribery charges! Paul Rioux has the story:

Henry Mouton, a former state Wildlife and Fisheries commissioner, is trying to negotiate a plea deal to resolve federal charges that he took $464,000 in bribes from a rival landfill owner in a conspiracy to close the Old Gentilly Landfill, according to a court filing Tuesday.

Mouton’s attorney cited the plea talks in a motion seeking to postpone an April 21 pretrial conference and a May 9 trial date.

“A plea agreement has not been finalized and defendant desires to continue the pretrial conference and the trial date to allow the completion of these discussions,” wrote attorney Mary Olive Pierson, who said prosecutors support postponing the court dates until after May 15.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman had not ruled on the motion by the close of business Tuesday evening, according to online court records.

Slabbed reports. You tell us who is sleeping well tonight!

Post-hearing briefs filed in Heebe-River Birch v USA

No time at the moment to do more than get these up for the SLABBED-nation to read.  Have it at! The USA’s brief follows and the Heebe-Ward-River Birch brief is below the jump.

[scribd id=51480856 key=key-vkt9glrlfdnlxtjekf9 mode=list] Continue reading “Post-hearing briefs filed in Heebe-River Birch v USA”

Trash – the menage a trois version

Paul Rioux reports “Concrete Busters of Louisiana, whose disposal bid was rejected in favor of River Birch’s, filed the suit against River Birch late Friday in New Orleans Civil District Court” .

The River Birch landfill allegedly engaged in unfair trade practices by colluding with former Jefferson Parish officials to obtain a controversial $160 million garbage-disposal contract, according to a lawsuit filed by a River Birch rival…

The firm is seeking reimbursement for more than $7.5 million in lost profits as well as attorney fees and expenses to prepare its rejected proposal.

The 28-page suit accuses former Parish President Aaron Broussard’s administration of rigging the selection process that resulted in the 25-year River Birch contract, which is under federal investigation and has yet to be enacted.

River Birch spokesman Glenn Smith declined to comment. He has previously denied any suggestion of collusion, saying River Birch “had nothing to do with the pace or timing of the process.”

Although a copy of the complaint was not available, Rioux provides a summary: Continue reading “Trash – the menage a trois version”

Clue – the Grand Jury version – Game 2

Richard Rainey reports No explanation given for postponing Jefferson Parish officials’ grand jury appearance – and with that we begin Clue – the Grand Jury version Part 2!

Jefferson Parish elected officials’ date with a federal grand jury has been postponed.

Parish President John Young and Parish Council member Chris Roberts said Thursday that the U.S. attorney’s office gave no reason, nor a rescheduled date to appear. U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Kathy English wouldn’t comment.

Young and Roberts, along with council members Tom Capella, Louis Congemi, Diane Hollis, Elton Lagasse, Byron Lee and Cynthia Lee-Sheng, had been subpoenaed to testify this morning at the Hale Boggs Federal Building.

Ed Sherman, a Tulane University law professor, said grand jury sessions usually are postponed to let a prosecutor better prepare to question witnesses…

While less likely, Sherman said, a delay could signal that a witness or even a target of the investigation has begun cooperating or “putting out feelers that he’s willing to talk”…

Roll the dice and offer a clue!

Hell waiting for high water – the devil in the details of the flooding of Jefferson Parish

Discussions of the legal and technical aspects of the flooding of Jefferson Parish following Hurricane Katrina are best left to legal scholars and expert engineers. I am neither and a post on those aspects is a subject for another day. For lack of a better word, I’m a behaviorist – and it is from that perspective this post examines the event and those that followed.

Among the most basic of human needs are a sense of belonging and acceptance. If and how those needs are met is determined in large part by our environment; and, in some fashion, we’ve all learned that we will be more readily accepted if “when in Rome” we “do as the Romans do”.

Although half-a-world away, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, London’s Telegraph described the “Rome” that is home to Jefferson Parish:

Congressman Billy Tauzin once said of his state: “One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment.” Last week, four fifths of New Orleans was under water and the other four fifths should be under indictment – which is the kind of arithmetic the state’s deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture will have no trouble making add up.

It was in the context of this “kleptocratic” environment that some did their arithmetic before the storm; figured the flooding of Jefferson Parish would result in a massive money-making opportunity; and decided too much was at stake to rely on nature alone.

One early estimate of loss from the resulting flooding of the Parish was $3-5 billion.  However, we’re only beginning to understand how much money there was to be made; but, more importantly, we’re also beginning to understand how.

Attached to the roots of the “deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture”  is the rather charming custom of lagniappe.  In its bastardized form “give me something for lagniappe” becomes a kickback to the “in crowd”. Continue reading “Hell waiting for high water – the devil in the details of the flooding of Jefferson Parish”

USA can’t sell tickets – River Birch ordered to turn over surveillance video (way to go, Judge Berrigan!)

The only shorter Order would have been “do it” – and somehow I think that might be how this translates:

IT IS ORDERED that by 10:00 a.m. on February 23, 2011, Plaintiffs’ shall provide the Government a copy of the surveillance video that was submitted to the Court on February 22, 2011.

The order was issued yesterday and entered on the docket today. Yesterday, Judge Berrigan also granted the Heebe-Ward-River Birch Plaintiffs’ motion to submit the supplemental reply brief . That Order, too, was entered on the docket today.

The legal argument of the Heebe-Ward-River Birch plaintiffs (see Mirror, Mirror Camera, camera on the wall) was dwarfed by fact and common sense.

According to the Plaintiffs, the Government posed a “new found argument” when it pointed out the broad scope of the search.

Judge Berrigan, however, is not “Dopey” and she knows the Government didn’t claim the warrant “contemplated the search of all seven businesses located at 2000 Belle Chasse…” as the plaintiffs’ brief alleged.

Likewise, she knows what the Government did claim; i.e., “the agents obtained a search warrant for the premises of 2000 Belle Chasse Highway, Gretna, Louisiana, 70056′” and “further described the property as ‘The offices of River Birch Landfill'”.

Mirror, Mirror Camera, camera on the wall – USA wants to see the video

Three new docket entries have followed since SLABBED reported Mirror, mirror on the wall server, was it one enterprise office after all?  With a hearing on the USA’s Motion for Reconsideration set for tomorrow, there’s no time to compose commentary – the USA’s motion and supporting memorandum are below in Scribd format.  Also below is the Heebe-River Birch Plaintiffs’ supplemental opposition to the USA’s motion for reconsideration and, for your convenience in comparing the two positions, a repeat of the Government’s response.

[scribd id=49359436 key=key-1vmwx4ccut9sh03r69su mode=list] Continue reading “Mirror, Mirror Camera, camera on the wall – USA wants to see the video”

Mirror, mirror on the wall server, was it one enterprise office after all?

I started this post before a “glitch” in my computer knocked me off line – but I was thinking at the time about how much more mirrored servers can do that just backup files. Those thoughts, in turn, led me to think about the third floor of the River Birch building and the various entities claiming separate offices there – which reminded me of “association-in-fact enterprises” – something I learned in researching Shows v State Farm, the Katrina RICO case:

Association-in-fact enterprises are probably the most useful and abundant forms of RICO enterprises, but they are also the most difficult to grasp on an analytical level.

Such a group need not have a hierarchical structure or a chain of command; decisions may be made on an ad hoc basis and by any number of methods-by majority vote, consensus, a show of strength, etc. Members of the group need not have fixed roles; different members may perform different roles at different times. The group need not have a name, regular meetings, dues, established rules and regulations, disciplinary procedures, or induction or initiation ceremonies. While the group must function as a continuing unit and remain in existence long enough to pursue a course of conduct, nothing in RICO exempts an enterprise whose associates engage in spurts of activity punctuated by periods of quiescence.

After two days off-line, I might have let this post linger in “drafts” had it not been for the United States’ Motion for Leave to File Reply Memorandum to Petitioners’ Opposition to Government’s Motion for Reconsideration – a pleading  filed today in Heebe-Ward-River Birch v USA. (full motion in Scribd format below the jump)

The petitioners contend that the search warrant signed by the Magistrate in this case “clearly limited the Government’s search to the offices of River Birch.” Rec. Doc. 42, p. 2. However, the search was not limited only to the offices of River Birch. The search warrant and its attachments authorized the search of 2000 Belle Chasse Highway, which contains the office of River Birch Landfill. Rec. Doc. 3-3, pp. 1-2. Attachment B to the search warrant clearly contemplated that documents related to the business and business practices that are found at 2000 Belle Chasse Highway are within the scope of the search warrant and therefore were permissibly seized. Rec. Doc. 3-3, p. 3-4. “The scope of a lawful search is defined by the object of the search and the places in which there is probable cause to believe that it may be found.” Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U.S. 79 (1987). (emphasis added) Continue reading “Mirror, mirror on the wall server, was it one enterprise office after all?”

“If it’s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what” – River Birch Plaintiffs file Memo on Seized Items to be Returned

If I want it, it’s mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it’s mine!

Why is it that when I read the Plaintiffs’ Memorandum Regarding What Seized Items Should Be Returned that I thought of this poem about two-year-old children? Read it and you’ll know the answer.

[scribd id=48972333 key=key-ihe7ctl5phtteeijscd mode=list]

Judge Berrigan wasn’t playing games – but Heebe played River Birch SCRABBLE and that’s a CLUE!

Chances of the Jefferson Parish Fire Department writing up River Birch for what appears to be a blocked exit are slim to none – so what possible reason could Heebe-Ward-River Birch have for the manual submission of a three-page floor plan as an Exhibit to the Plaintiff’s Memorandum(below in scribd format)?

However, here’s a so-so but readable version of the hand-drawn single page layout attached as an Exhibit to the Government’s Memorandum (below in scribd format) – the colored areas indicate the location of various items seized. Talk about a CLUE – note the number of locations where the government seized “mirrored hard drives“. Every file written on a mirrored hard drive is automatically written to another.

Take the Heebe-River Birch SCRABBLE and what you’ve learned from the various tours and identify who had what seized by the government – both documents are below the jump.  I’ll be back shortly with more from today’s filings; so, stand by: Continue reading “Judge Berrigan wasn’t playing games – but Heebe played River Birch SCRABBLE and that’s a CLUE!”