I did not make this assertion:
"Berry has claimed Richmond used the NOCE credit card or other agency funds to buy the Rolex, and then let the agency's director, Tina Dixon, take the fall when an auditor discovered the improper purchases."
Not. I did not say he used the NOCE credit card to buy the Rolex.....here is exactly what I said:
Well, interestingly enough, I have been told by two separate sources that Cedric Richmond used non-profit funds to purchase a diamond bezel from a prestigious downtown jeweler for his blingiddy-bling, white gold, Rolex watch ....here he is sporting that bad boy
I did not say it was the NOCE credit card, I did not even say it was NOCE funds, and I did not say it was the Rolex watch itself.
I said I believe he used non-profit funds to purchase a diamond bezel for the Rolex....and I stick to that claim.
"Berry has asserted that Richmond bought a Rolex diamond bezel in 2002 from Jack Sutton Jewelers using NOCE funds. He said Sutton, the jeweler, told him so."
No...I did not assert that Sutton told me that.
Sutton originally told both me and a WWL reporter that he had located the invoice for the diamond bezel from 2002. He told both me and the reporter that they didn't keep computer records back that far but his accountant had found the invoice from 2002 and it did not show the credit card number but there was a notation on the invoice which showed that Cedric put $1000 down on a credit card and payed the remainder in a personal check.
I stayed in contact with Sutton every week for about 2 months to try and obtain the invoice, I was continually told to call back in a couple of days. Upon talking to Sutton on the phone two weeks ago, he implied that they were having no luck locating the invoice....after he already told me they had located it.
As of yesterday, I discovered that the invoice had been turned into the Times Picayune and was dated from 2007. I called Sutton to ask him how the invoice was dated 2007 when he told both the WWL reporter and me that the invoice was from 2002 (more than once). He replied (paraphrase), "No you told me the invoice was from 2002, I didn't tell you that." I replied (paraphrase), "That's not right. Neither I nor (WWL reporter) knew exactly what year it was from. You were the one who originally told us it was from 2002." Sutton then replied (paraphrase), "No you told me 2002 and when I was told by the Times Picayune it was from 2007 I looked for that year and it was right there....they even have the CC number."
The date not only conflicts with his original story but the fact that he produced the card information also conflicts with his original story that the credit card info. was not recorded on the original 2002 invoice which he claimed he had located.
To boot, he then admitted to the TP that he did tell me it was from 2002.
Confused? Yeah, you should be.
A caveat: I have also been told that the invoice turned in to the TP was photocopied.
The TP obtained these NOCE credit card records from the NOPD. However, upon a public records request to the DA's office in May of this year, they responded that the records were missing:
* I have withheld the name of the person who requested the record until I can confirm it is ok to list it.
The docket states that Dixon's official sentence wasn't delivered until June 6, 2007:
How was she prosecuted if the DA's office didn't have the records? Did they lose them between 2007 and the June 2010 public records request?
Upon searching the Clerk of Court's records division for the case # 453-281, an entirely different case came up involving a male crack cocaine possession charge.
Dixon's record was officially expunged in March of this year, 2010. Regardless, the Clerk of Court should still have the case records as should the DA's office.
Desiree Honore' declined my request for an interview, but since she is now coming forward and commenting to the TP, I'm curious if she will turn over all of NOCE's financial records to the TP or some other media resource so we can get a better picture of this entity.
On another note....
It's interesting to me that the other issues I brought up about this non-profit seem to not warrant print.... the 4 specific grant violations I noted about both NOCAP and NOCE, particularly the 60k in renovations to the building.
I had no idea NOCE had garnered 588k in that four year period. I am betting NOCAP raised about the same amount, which would put the total over a million dollars in 4 years. From the NOCE audits I could only account for 1 line item which mentions a computer trainer which they had budgeted at about 6k a year. That's 24k out of nearly 600k that was spent for actual computer instruction.
While I still firmly believe Richmond used non-profit funds to buy jewelry, I regret that I made that single issue the forefront of the story as it seems to have overshadowed the other documented issues I've pointed out with Richmond and NOCE.
But this isn't over....not by a long shot. The time line on this election is redundant to me and I've uncovered a mountain of nastiness while researching this story. Hang with me, we're just getting started.