Drunk on power: An Ode to Billy Joe….

Anyone familiar with the Pine Belt, in particular the Free State of Jones understands all Circuit Court roads lead to Judge Billy Joe Landrum as the one man band judicial district in Jones County creates a Judgeship with mucho power inherent to the office. Late last month State Auditor Stacey Pickering issued a $313,726.73 civil demand to Judge Landrum for helping himself to personal fuel, vehicles and salaries paid from the Community Services Program to employees that were not in any way affiliated with it. The Community Services Programs is funded by fines paid by convicts that is supposed to fund a diversion program that offered alternatives to jail. This should all sound familiar to you folks in St Slammany that read Slabbed.

Notably, the civil demand does not include any Billy Walker type discount and we have a family feud undercurrent as Auditor Pickering also hails from the Free State of Jones, something his press release on the Landrum demand overemphasized IMHO.  Given that Judge Landrum amazingly let the local paper take his picture showing off the CSP paid equipment he was charitably storing at his house so the taxpayers would not be burdened it is no surprise that more recently the DA in the Free State of Jones decided he needed to look into the matter.

Of course Judge Landrum’s timing could not be better as two days before the civil demand was released to the public Landrum announced his intent to seek an 8th term on the Circuit Court. More recently the Judge was issuing press releases to the local media declaring that Auditor Pickering was attempting to interfere with the upcoming election writing that, “Pickering has no business making false allegations about me in an attempt to influence a Jones County judicial election.”

Looks to me from down here on the coast that Billy Joe Landrum may have served one term as Circuit Court Judge too many already. Given the length of time it took to bring former Southhaven Mayor turned perpetrator Greg Davis to trial, the saga of Billy Joe Landrum is likely to be with us for a while.

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

Janus plea hearing: Magilla the Gorilla in the room

Magilla the Gorilla via Wiki

I had to laugh at the remarks of one of the assembled defense attorneys, who made my acquaintance today telling me how much he enjoyed my Louisiana coverage.  The assembled media included Warren Kulo, Ruth Ingram, Doug Walker, Jeff Amy and Anita Lee plus one blogger.

Ironically the session started off with what was billed as a quick true up hearing for a civil case that quite frankly caught my interest as much as the Janus plea hearing.  Judge Starrett knows his damages including exhibiting some specialized knowledge of the sand and gravel business that was quite impressive.  I’ll leave the inside chatter on the inside but Judge Starrett continued the hearing because the numbers did not make sense to him.  I followed the lawyer out of the courtroom with my business card (day job) in case the Plaintiffs decided to reach out for some help.  Damages I know.

Lest I digress there are three points I want to make but before I make them we need to visit with the best two accounts of the hearing in no particular order:

Janus pleads guilty to fraud, will testify against Scott Walker ~ Anita Lee

Janus changes plea to guilty on fraud charges ~ Jeff Amy

As I said on twitter Janus was solemn throughout.  HIs face had an ashen hue and eye circles Continue reading “Janus plea hearing: Magilla the Gorilla in the room”

Inside the investigation: Who tattooed Scott Walker’s mortgage on the lot that DMR purchased via the Land Trust

Vital background via Anita Lee can be found here.

The land deal closed 12 days before Scott Walker’s final, lump-sum payment was due on a loan at Merchants & Marine Bank, Jackson County land records show.

Walker had used the property in July 2008 as collateral on a $310,590 loan, which called for monthly payments of $2,775. The balance and all interest payments were due July 25, 2011, although the terms did allow for loan extension or modification.

Tattoo? I heard that word most from investment bankers doing M&A work a decade or so ago. Tatoos are not easily removed, especially those given a bank by a family member to induce the extension of credit to someone that is not otherwise creditworthy enough on their own to nab a $310,590 loan.

Stay tuned.