Tuesday, August 23, 2011

" It's twisted, but still good..."

That was the comment I recently heard from a doctor who was looking at a section of my heart via ultrasound while describing it to some quasi-curious interns.  I busted out laughing and asked him if I could quote him on that....he didn't get the joke.  That sentiment is how I'd like to title the third and final chapter in the "St. Pierre Trial: Color Commentator Series; Vol. 3".

Sorry it's taken so long but I actually lost the notebook I was taking notes with that day.  After cleaning up my office the other day, I found it stashed away in a cardboard, legal-file box.  I put it there so I wouldn't lose it, then I forgot I put it there and hence lost it.  Welcome to my brain, don't stay too long it can be detrimental to your sanity.

Brief Moment of Reflection 

In part 2, We left off with wind-blown Eddie and Sir Flannagan's closing defense statements.  Over all I would give them about a 6 1/2 out of 10.  Considering what they had to work with I was truly amazed at the job the defense did.

I couldn't understand why Marky Mark didn't plea in the first place and the trial only strengthened that sentiment.  I guess when you have Dell footing legal bills for you, you may tend to get a little delusional and begin to think somebody is going to pull a rabbit out of a hat.  That didn't happen...not even close.

However, I have uncovered some pretty interesting info. which may explain Marky's defiant attitude.  I will get to that later in the post.

Start your engines

You hear that?  The engine is revving....light turns green....the Bugatti is off the line....

Coman immediately jumped on the fuzzy math Castaing tried to confuse the jury with.  Castaing had tried to suggest St. Pierre wasn't actually making money off his contracts with the city.  I kind of suspected that is what Coman would attack and he wasted nary a second going straight for Castaing's spread sheet.  He got about two minutes into dissecting the numbers before Castaing objected but the point had been made in short order...the numbers were bullshit and he got enough of the explanation out for the jury, and the peanut gallery, to understand the basics.

I'm not sure why it took so long for the defense to object.  Even though he didn't explain the fuzzy math completely, the general sentiment was relayed to the jury.  It was only two minutes but an effective two minutes..

Coman then started firing off bullet points in rapid succession, with sprinklings of conjecture in between.  I tried to keep up with them in my note taking but I've waited so long to actually synthesize those notes, I don't quite remember exactly what some of them mean.  Anyway, I'm going to try to run them down  as I wrote the bullet points in my notebook...here goes...Coman's closing talking points:

-  New Orleans City Hall is notorious for "Bribes and Lies".  This is yet another misuse of public tax dollars, a problem which has plagued the city for years.

That was a rather pregnant thesis to lead with.  At one point in the defense argument Castaing had actually tried to use the integrity of the Nagin administration and City Hall as a defense strategy....that was laughable.  Now Coman came out and stated what everyone already knows and believes, "Our city government is plagued with corruption."  It was kind of a breath of fresh air....it's like he just cleared up all the bullshit we had just been subjected to by the defense.  The tactic worked, at least for me.

- Netmethods was incorporated in Delaware...all dubious corporate ventures are incorporated in Delaware.

True 'dat.

- Coman points out that St. Pierre continually lied to his own lawyer(s), in specific, Danny Drake.

This was a big turning point in the trial.  When Danny Drake (Netmethods' lawyer and father of Chris Drake, Netmethods' partner) was on the stand Castaing asked him if Meffert had lied to him about the nature of the business.  Drake fired back, "They all lied to me!"  BAM!  Castaing's own witness just screwed the pooch.  Coman refreshed the jury's memory on that revelation which I think was probably the second nail in the coffin behind the muthafukin' boat.

- Coman describes what Count 1 is, "Partnership in Crime".

Coman kind of took on the role of the judge and explained to the jury what this charge is and why St. Pierre is guilty.  This was a counter to Castaing's attempts to confuse the jury with what the charges actually are.

Coman says, "A bribe is a bribe is a bribe."  Yes, yes and yes.  Sometimes it's just necessary to say "1 is 1 is 1."  It's easy for people to get confused and think, "1 is 1 is 1 is 3."  If all else fails, just do the math.

The lead prosecutor then drew attention to the multiple LLC's these guys had created in an attempt to hide their criminal enterprise and averred, "You can't hide behind companies."

Actually you can and that happens all the time.  Very rarely do we see people get busted by following the bread crumbs from LLC to LLC to Con-profit to LLC to politician to offshore LLC.....yada yada.

(Hey I think I just subconsciously drew out the diagram for Nagin's Mexican casino deal...

...but I digress.)

In fact the crime camera gig is still rolling through new LLC incarnations, i.e., MMR (which we'll get to in a minute).

- Coman points out that "going to lawyers" is not a defense for committing a crime.

This was really important because the whole defense strategy seemed predicated on confusing the jury into thinking that St. Pierre can't be guilty because he was simply following the advice of his lawyers.  Of course, even that defense broke down when we found out St. Pierre was lying to his own lawyer per the defense's witness.

Even if MM found lawyers that told him the kickback scheme he devised was perfectly legal (and they never told him that by the way), a crime is still a crime.  It only goes to show that not only is St. Pierre a bad criminal, he must have had shitty judgement in his choice of lawyers as well.  Not only is he a criminal, he's a dumb, arrogant criminal....that's what I came away with.

I really wish Coman would have stated, "Everything you heard in regards to what legal advice St. Pierre was given is irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is if he committed the crime."  Probably would have provoked an objection but I still would have spouted it out just to make sure the jury understood.

- Coman points out that St. Pierre couldn't produce an actual work description for the kickbacks he was paying Greg and Linda Meffert, as well as work billed to the city such as some of Jimmy Goodson's line items.

Coman points out the Mefferts got paid for nothing.  How could that be anything other than a bribe?  He also points out that St. Pierre had two years to make something up to describe what service he had paid the Mefferts for but he still can't explain it.

Very good point.  Very...very....good point.  You can't argue that it wasn't a bribe unless you at least try to come up with a fucking excuse as to why you're stroking all those checks.  They could have at least made some shit up and said, "We were paying her for....consulting....on....stuff...yeah...that's it.".  I mean anything would have been better than just letting the jury look at those frikkin' enormous checks and realize the cash was being sucked out of the public coffers and rolled into the Mefferts' bank account for doing....nada.

Major fuck up on the defense's part.  Major.  You have to make up some kind of shit to at least imply that St. Pierre thought he was paying that money for an actual service.  Maybe they did that and I missed it, I wasn't there for the entire trial but I never heard a valid explanation for the check stroking to Linda.  Trust me, in the end...the check stroking was much more egregious than anything getting stroked on the muthafukin' boat.

- Coman breaks down the $, with paperwork to boot.

All things said and done in this case, in the end it was the paper trail.  The prosecution went all Tom Cruise on us and showed us the money.  Boat, strippers, sugar addictions aside....what won this case was the paper trail that had been methodically reconstructed by the DOJ team.  I don't see how you battle a paper trail like that.

Coman proceeded to brief the jury on the big payouts (bribes) and perks that came from public monies:
-  $130,954.60 on the MeffCard
- the MF'n boat
-  601 St. Joseph (corp. apartment)
-  Katrina overbilling (rat bastards)
- 25k for a trip to Vegas
- $404,240.52 in kickbaks for a pile o' steaming shit crime cameras that never worked
- $647,000 paid to Meff as outright bribes
- $22,000 in Anthony "Bowling Pin" Jones bribes
- Concealed campaign contributions (to our chrome-domed former mayor)
- $236k in Lafayette bribes through their CTO.  
All with paperwork to back it up....paperwork which was shown in detail on the projected screen right over Marky Mark's head....from a Dell computer.

- Coman breaks down all the criminal charges.

Count 1 - Partnership in Crime;

Counts 3-26 - Wire Fraud;

Counts 2 & 27-42 - Bribery with Meffert;

Counts 43-52 - Bribery with Bowling Pin;

Count 53 - Money Laundering of 900k to two public officials.

Once again, he spells out what the actual charges are for the jury so they are not confused by the defense's attempts to convolute the crimes.

Finally, Coman draws to a close and goes right back to the opener about how this city is infested with corruption.  He stares the jury down and states, "The corruption needs to end....here and now."

I got a boner...I don't know about anybody else but it made me randy.

Da Judge and Da Jesters

The jury recessed and then came back in order for Judge Fallon to explain all of the charges to the jury and their responsibility in deciding the verdicts.

Fallon has this buttery, Boston voice, "...if you believe aaalll....or paahhht....of the praahhh...se..cuuuhhhtion's....."  He sounded a little like J.F.K.  I realize buttery and Boston may be polarizing thunks in your head but I was digging it...very much.  I still want to do a Judge Fallon dinner party, I like listening to that cat talk.  

The St. Pierre clan sat rather somberly through this part.  One of the clan got so bored she took her shoes off and was doing a little horizontal jig on the back of the church pew in front of her...I couldn't make out if it was a celtic folk dance or a cajun two-step but she had a pretty good rhythm going to the Fallon rap.

Somewhat of a surreal moment.

I imagined she was line dancing to the Doobie Bros., "What a Fool Believes":

Yeah...lyrics and all.  Can ya dig it?

One other irony I noted was that every computer in the courtroom was a Dell.  Maybe I'm the only one who sees the irony in that but it's something I noticed.

Meanwhile, Stacy had back-stepped over into the left-hand corner of the peanut gallery.   She sat there quietly with her head down...and...wait for it....hair twirling did commence.  Orchestrated or genuine, it made me worry about her state of mind and I'm sure the jury noticed as well.

Marky Mark was nervously rubbing his forehead.  I think he was just pissed that he had to sit there that long.  He wasn't feeling the "butteriness + Boston = something cool that I can't explain" Judge Fallon voice I described above.  I honestly think he was just pissed.

Wow!  Now that I think about it...he wasn't even scared....he really was just pissed.  Maybe he was pissed at his defense attorney, maybe he was pissed at his bro's for ratting him out, maybe he was pissed at himself for not plea'ing....shit, I don't know but I did write all those things down in my notebook as possibilities.  I do know he was pissed.

Damn, that's why it pays to take notes.  I totally forgot that.  

Da Verdict

The moment of truth.

As the guilty verdicts started rolling out, one by one, Marky Mark showed signs of what I interpreted as disbelief....head shakes, head rolls....I think he actually thought he was going to get out of, at least some, of the charges.  The anger rapidly morphed into something else...not sure what that emotion was but it definitely wasn't anger.

I looked for the emoticon on my keyboard and I'm pretty sure no one has generically interpreted that emotion, yet.  My best attempt would be :/?∞.  Can I patent that?  I want to patent that.

All and all, Marky Mark kept a great poker face.

The most notable reaction came from his parents.  His father was sobbing uncontrollably.

Immediately following the reading of the verdict, the bailiff's ( I suppose federal) took MM into custody and escorted him out the back door.  Some confusion ensued.  Castaing approached the bench and Judge Fallon called for a meeting "out back".

I think the defense was caught off guard that Judge Fallon was sending MM straight to the pokey...do not pass go...do not collect $200.  I guess the Judge considered MM a flight risk.  Anyway, he eventually got out...St. Pierre has since been released until his sentencing the first week in September.

Of course, there could be an appeal.

The Aftermath

The press conference was quite a show.  The prosecuting team looked like schoolgirls at a Bieber concert.  They nailed every charge so I suppose they deserved to celebrate.

I must admit, I got a couple of hot flashes myself.  

Letten praised his team and the cooperation of other federal offices.  He even went local and threw "Q" and The Office of the Inspector General a bone.

I actually ran into Q a couple of days earlier at a coffee shop and took the liberty of introducing myself.

He stressed that I never refer to the office as "The Inspector General".  He wanted to make sure the entity is always referred to as "The Office of the Inspector General" because it is a team effort, not an individual ego trip.  OK...good enough.  But I'm still going to call him Q because I don't want to have to remember how to spell Quatrevaux.

Letten suggested this case was won because of the methodic paper trail which was pieced together by the prosecution.  I tend to agree....It's one thing to hear about strippers on the MF'n boat but to see the checks actually stroked to Meff by St. Pierre...that's impossible to defend.

WDSU reporter, Gina Swanson, asked Letten "What role did the press and bloggers play in this investigation?"  Letten conferred with his bro's for a second then replied (parrot-phrased :) did you see True Blood last night?), "We can't comment a lot on sources as the investigation is ongoing but I can tell you that we do look closely at media resources, David Hammer, from the Times-Picayune and we have also looked at blogs.  Hopefully we can shed more light on that after the investigation is complete."


That shout out actually made me as giddy as a star-struck schoolgirl...I have to admit.  Even if I am apparently, Voldemort....no one dare say my name.

....lyrics and all.


After the press conference I sat down outside the Boggs Federal Building and stared down Poydras street, trying to take it all in.

"Damn, these guys had been brought to justice...it really happened.", methunk.

These peckerheads were ripping off our city at a moment when it was fighting for its life.  This time, they didn't get away with it like so many rat-bastards have before.  This time the common Joe's demanded answers and they got 'em.

I didn't feel schadenfreude towards them, I really didn't....I just felt hopeful.  I felt like maybe the city has really turned a corner, since the storm, with the string of convictions we've had against corrupt, public officials.  Shit, now we even got one of the sneaky, private-sector bastards who bribe the public officials.  I'm not going Pollyanna but I really believe we've seen some enormous changes in the past 5...approaching 6 years.

I was awash with optimism.

Just when I thought I had exhausted my capacity for mental masturbation and should probably just go home...Lady St. Pierre, Castaing and Sir Flannagan came barreling out of the building surrounded by a torrent of reporters and cameras.  In true form, Stacy bucked her way right through the press posse.  She eventually broke free and galloped right on down Camp Street.

I suppose she rode off into the sunset that day in that big, black Mercedes....Marky Mark....I think he took a big, metal truck.

What now?

There have been some really interesting developments since the criminal trial...mostly coming from the ongoing "Camsoft v. All You Rotten Motherfuckers" civil case which I'll get to in a second.

I know the question on everyone's mind is "What about Nagin?"  The question on my mind has been, "What about Ciber?  What about Ed Burns?  Do I dare say...Dell?  What about Kurt?  What about Drake?"

Here's what I know....nothing.

I don't know what is going to happen.  I've heard rumors that the DOJ will not pursue Burns or Ciber.  While that is incredibly aggravating to me, it doesn't come as a surprise.  I should probably refrain from speculation on why it doesn't surprise me but suffice to say Ciber is much like BP or Goldman Sachs....they can't fail.  Not necessarily because they're too "big" but because they are, quite simply, too evil.  I'll leave it at that.

Kurt, Drake, Minyard...I don't understand how those guys can skate without any repercussions.  With what was revealed in this trial, I just don't understand how those guys walk.  I suppose that's the curse of viewing it from my panolpy...kind of like the view from the top of One Shell Square...where all those antennae arrays live.  

Nagin...I don't see Nagin being charged as a result of this trial.  Yes, his secretary used the Meff Card knowingly to  book the Jamaica trip.  Yes, he was taking illegal campaign contributions.  Yes, Jimmy Goodson was working on his house.  Yes, he took a trip to Hawaii, Chicago, Jamaica, Vegas on city contractors' dime.....but if none of these other guys are going to be charged I don't think Nagin is either.

However, that doesn't negate the possibility that he could be charged in his dealings with Frank Fradella and Aaron Bennett...I have always believed he committed bigger sins with those two dudes than he did with Meff/St. Pierre.  And if you read the homework assignment I posted a couple of weeks ago, you'll know that the Fed just turned up the burner on Franky from simmer to boil.  I heard some bone rattling that pre-St. Pierre indictment, there may have been some negotiations attempted between FF and The Man (S.E.C....and I don't mean LSU's division) but the talks fell through.

Now, in the wake of a blistering indictment of a Nagin crony, The Man introduces "60 boxes of information" and "a substantial but undetermined volume of electronic images including, but not limited to, emails" into the case.  I would assume the "not limited to" part refers to .pdfs and perhaps self-produced images of aging men standing naked in a mirror....flexing.

I don't know for sure but at this point I'm willing to let my imagination try and live up to the reality.  I am, obviously, a gullible lad at the ripe, old age of 42.  At this point, I think anything is possible.

My take on the Fradella development is this......S.E.C. Translation:  "OK...so you don't want to cooperate.  Good enough. Oh, by the way, we're introducing all this extra shit we've got on you into your case.  Hmmm....there may be some new charges in there....it's a lot of stuff....you need to look over it.  Tell you what, you take a look at all that and get back to us.  :) "

That's just my translation, of course...digest it or spit it out.  It is simply conjecture.      

And while we're on the subject of conjecture, I think the biggest sin committed in the history of the Nagin era is that Ciber helped him steal the 2006 mayoral election.  I know...I know....call me a conspiracy theorist....tell me I'm paranoid schizo......but you will not convince me otherwise.  I just want to remind you of one thing Meffert said when he was on the stand in this trial, "Both Ciber and us (Netmethods) had a very big interest in getting Nagin re-elected."  I think he said that....that way....for a reason.  I also think that is one reason Ciber will not be prosecuted.  They've done it before and they were never prosecuted.  As I said...they are too evil to fail.  Just google Pennsylvania Turnpike & Ciber....same thing....same result.

Believe what you will.

Da' Geeses and Da' Ganders...what's good for one ain't good for the other

Now back to that info I was referring to about why I think Marky Mark was so defiant and pushed this trial right off the cliff.

First, let me ask you folks something.  Did you ever wonder why Linda Meffert was used by Greg and Mark as a funnel and Stacy St. Pierre wasn't?  I always thought that was curious....I mean if they figured they could hide money and kickbacks by sending it through Linda, why wouldn't they have done the exact same thing with Stacy?  Weeellllll..........as it turns out........from an amendment recently filed in the Camsoft civil suit:

NetMethods hired MMR Construction to perform subcontract work on the Baton Rouge crime camera and Crescent City Connection camera deployment.  MMR Construction was interested in learning about the wireless video surveillance technology and selling systems to its offshore oilrig customers.  Aware of the NetMethod's pending New Orleans litigation, St. Pierre began negotiations with Kevin Alexander ("Alexander") of MMR Contractors.  St. Pierre and Alexander agreed that MMR Constructors would open a new division, MMR Communications.  MMR Constructors knew that the New Orleans litigation involved disputes over intellectual property misappropriation of the wireless video surveillance system.  Pursuant to their agreement, NetMethods employees, Hodges, Ridge and Michael Merrit, transferred the technological know-how and NetMethod's future business to MMR Constructors.  In January of 2010, Ridge notified personnel with Baton Rouge that NetMethods was transferred over to MMR Constructors. After Baton Rouge officials agreed to unilaterally transfer the maintenance of the Baton Rouge crime cameras to MMR Constructors under their state contract, MMR Constructors began paying approximately $10,000 per month to S2 Consulting, LLC.  S2 Consulting was formed in the name of St. Pierre's wife, Stacey St. Pierre, on February 17, 2010.  St. Pierre through S2 Consulting continued receiving $10,000 per month until the association between MMR Constructors and NetMethods was made public in the Baton Rouge Advocate."
Ride on sweet Stacy, ride on into the sunset, girl.

And the "LLC shuffle" beat goes on...it just keeps going on.

Keep in mind the situation with Meff was very different considering Meff was a public official and Mark wasn't.  I don't think there are any laws being broken with S2, I think it's just an asset dump...or rather the fee for an asset dump.  Regardless,  St. Pierre clan is gettin' paid and that explains a lot about Marky Mark's motivation....at least to me.

Wrap up

All and all, I think the outcome of this trial was exactly how the cardiologist described my ticker, "Twisted, but still good."  I'm past the schoolgirl crush thing but I'm still optimistic.

Next up....diggin' up some old bones.  You remember e-maelstrom?  You ever wondered who authorized that email deletion?  I think I know.  I probably can't tell you and you probably wouldn't believe me if I did tell you...but we're gonna do some diggin'.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you exist, man. Thank you.

Leigh C. said...

A doc with no sense of humor is hardly much of a doc, methinks, but at least you're healthy and you found your notes. See ya this weekend.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Jeez, give me a break. What a Fool believes was pretty funny...huh? This is a hard house to play, this Zombieland.

Jason Brad Berry said...

Plus I used Swahilinari again...that is always fun.

bruthas_back said...

sorry for being a little off of topic here. but did mendoza fall on the proverbial sword in the detail scandal? i understand the at-will vs. civil service employee dichotomy. but jesus christ, if mendoza gets the axe for approving the details, it seems quite odd that the people who started the details in the first place only get three days suspension. that's a gap that's a mile long in between the two punishments.

lockemuptight said...

Jason,the latest medical discovery about the way the heart contracts is that it slightly twists on itself while contracting kinda like ringing out a wet towel but not to that extreme.That's what your cardiologist was referring to but failed, like a lot of cardiologist, to explain his "twisted" terminology. Another cardiologist's favorite failure is to not tell patients that approximately 30% of all cardiac stents block up, even the new miracle coated ones,in as few as 6 months requiring then a full cardiac bypass.Any readers considering stents do your internet homework, ask questions but GET HEALTHY(i.e.lose weight,fat free diet,walk exercise 5 days a week for 45 min. each day,take cholesterol statins,get lots of sex, etc.)I elected not to take the artificial, stent wayout which ends up usually with more cardiac surgery down the line.
Jason, I enjoy your blog so stay healthy so you can continue to help get the political corruption out of this area.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you leave me speechless. This was brilliant, just fantastically brilliant.

The e-maelstrom has never ceased bugging me, so some sweet relief would be divine.

You're a precious gem to the good people that love this city!

Anonymous said...

take two brains and cal me in the "mourning"

doctor werddoc.

Jason Brad Berry said...

BB, I feel you. The entire Mendoza situation concerns me, greatly. I can't really swallow the pill....Hosli still has a job and Mendoza doesn't? I think it's bullshit, bro. I'm with you.

At the moment I'm more concerned about this special election for Councilperson-at-Large, though. I think the mayor is about to try and ramrod CHM through and I don't like that one bit. Not one bit.

Anonymous said...

ciber stock was cut in half a few weeks ago after a terrible quarter. the future for them looks bad regardless of criminal charges....agree on minyard, easy case to prove. probably working out a plea...i have to think fradella is trying to get the best deal possible. his trial was recently pushed back by almost a year. if fradella goes to trial and loses, he will lose and there is more stuff he has not been charged with, he would probably live the rest of his life in jail. ...apparently frank is living in miami now. great place for a sleaze like him.

Anonymous said...

ciber stock was cut in half a few weeks ago after a terrible quarter. the future for them looks bad regardless of criminal charges....agree on minyard, easy case to prove. probably working out a plea...i have to think fradella is trying to get the best deal possible. his trial was recently pushed back by almost a year. if fradella goes to trial and loses, he will lose and there is more stuff he has not been charged with, he would probably live the rest of his life in jail. ...apparently frank is living in miami now. great place for a sleaze like him.

Anonymous said...

Just an interesting aside, the registered agent for Winvestco was disbarred in October 2007 for embezzlement from his law firm. Here's a link to the Supreme Court opinion.

Birds of a feather...

Anonymous said...

Forgot the link re the registered agent. So sue me.


Jason Brad Berry said...

Yeah, Fradella's trial was postponed because of that mountain of evidence which was introduced.

Last Anon, this blog is last place you want to invite someone to sue you.....trust me. :)

bruthas_back said...

we need a special election for all the council members. they all need to go. stacy "the peoples champ" head has been eerily silent on the detail scandal. i know she supported the cameras from the beginning. but as much as she has gone ape shit before, her silence on this issue is deafening. IMO the IG's office is another fraud. i think that office was brought about just to F with nagin. nagin's gone, time for the IG to hit the road as well.

Jason Brad Berry said...

BB, I disagree with you on Head. I don't understand why you expect her to do. The OIG is another story....I thought their findings were a little too convenient but overall I'm pretty happy with their performance and I think they are absolutely needed in this city.

Anonymous said...

Well damn...