Thursday, December 19, 2013

DHECC : Almost a smoking gun...perhaps a mushroom cloud

Last night I spent a lot of time going through the recent filings by Christine Reitano, Lionel Sutton and the Andry Law Firm, I wanted to make sure I read between the lines, detected any nuance, etc.

There is so much to point out that I'm going to break it up over multiple posts but I want to start with what I think is a bomb that Sutton dropped on page six of his filing:

Sutton Dec. 18 filing

....read this:
Perhaps more significant, while discussing the Thonn claim, Freeh noted that he discovered a second law firm that submitted at least four claims with tax returns more favorable than trip tickets.  (The very same issue that he uses with regard to the Thonn claim to accuss Sutton, Andry and Lerner of corruption and the recommendation that each be prevented from representing claimants).  In those four claims, Freeh found that the tax returns resulted in pay outs of as much as 114% greater.  Unbelievably, Freeh did not identify the second law firm or the claimants, made no allegations of corrruption and made no recommendation that the second law firm be prevented from representing claimants.  If the second law firm improperly manipulated data to the benefit of their private clients and to the detriment of their class clients, the possibility that the law firm is a member of the Plaintiff's Steering Committee, mandates disclosure, not cover up.
Emphasis theirs



Whoop....there it is!  Whoop...there it is!

It's pretty clear Sutton knows who the page 60 firm is and he's all but telling us as much in this filing. I think he also rightfully points out that what he's being accused of is pale in comparison to what the page 60 firm may have done, especially if it's a PSC firm.

Sutton even goes so far as to use the term "cover up" to point out that Freeh had no qualms naming himself, Reitano and the Andry Firm as well as the claim, Thonn, in his accusations of misconduct. But for some reason Freeh did not identify the page 60 firm or the claims this firm allegedly manipulated.

This is huge....huge....I've said from the beginning that if a PSC firm had manipulated the claims process in any way.... selling access to the "formula", expediting their personal claims ahead of the other class claimants, or manipulating the actual claims to game the system they themselves created...Humpty Dumpty is going to come crashing down and all the King's men won't be able to put him back together again.

According to Sutton's filing it appears this is exactly what happened.

I've been digging a lot on this issue and I think I have pretty good idea of what the fraudulent "manipulation" of the claims process by the unnamed firm may have been.  It involves seafood claims, particularly shrimp, and Sutton even mentions this in the paragraph above.

It involves the process by which shrimper's assessed their losses.  There are basically two ways to assess this, tax returns and "trip tickets".  The trip tickets are basically a written record of how many pounds of shrimp a fisherman brings in to market on each fishing expedition.

According to the formula for the settlement, there are "multipliers" assigned to each settlement amount pending the pounds in shrimp each shrimper produced in the years previous to the spill.  So let's say there is a 1.5 multiplier on 49,999 lbs. of shrimp produced in a year but for 50,000 lbs. of shrimp produced in a year you get a 2.5 multiplier.  Obviously, the difference in the payout is substantial.

Now imagine a husband and wife shrimp team, or even partners in a shrimp boat enterprise, using multiple boats to fish.  Let's say the husband produced 45,000 lbs. in 2009 and the wife produced 35,000 lbs.  If the law firm shifts 5000 lbs. in shrimp tickets to the husband, the husband gets bumped up to the 2.5 multiplier while the wife still gets her 1.5 multiplier.

The numbers I'm using above are hypothetical and I'm still not sure exactly how the multipliers work in respect to pounds of shrimp.  There is also another qualifier...boat size:



Still, you can see how the system is set up to be gamed if you know the ins and outs.

Another major issue to consider is that the seafood claims are a capped fund so after all the claims are paid out, any excess funds are paid out pro rata.  That means if some of the claimants were gaming the system, per their law firms, and getting more than they deserved they were doing so at the expense of the other fisherman in the settlement.  It's not like it was a harmless scam that only affected BP's coffers.

That issue takes on even more gravitas if the law firm manipulating the claims is a PSC firm because not only did the Plantiff Steering Committee create the claims process from the beginning, they have a fiduciary duty to represent all of the claimants in the MDL (multi-district litigation) case, not just their private claimants.  Therefore, they have robbed their MDL-assigned clients in order to pay their favored, private clients, hence themselves, more money.

Aside from criminal charges and potential disbarment, both BP and the class claimants may have a massive malpractice suit against this PSC firm...if indeed it is a PSC firm that submitted the fraudulent claims.

Why would Freeh not name this firm?  Is Barbier, perhaps, protecting the firm?

What's interesting is that, with this week's legal filings, there seems to be a sudden change in the court's stonewalling towards those accused in the Freeh report.  Magistrate judge Shushan released these responses to this week's filings today:

Order re Andry Motion to Compel  

Paw Affidavit

It appears the court is now willing to provide the accused with at least some of the evidence acquired by Freeh that led to the accusations in the report.  What's even more intriguing to me is the testimony and evidence the court doesn't seem to want to reveal...I'll get to that in the next post.

25 comments:

Kevin said...

"On several occasions, at the direction of Mike Juneau, Sutton and a Senior Accountant
met with a member of the PSC at the PSC attorney’s private office to discuss a number of claims
the attorney intended to file. There were multiple discussions as to how those claims would be
filed and processed and what policies would be affected. Again, Sutton understood that the type of communication and assistance provided was not only encouraged by the CA, it was mandated by the Settlement Agreement whether the attorney was a PSC member or not."

All these descriptors like "senior accountant" and "member of the PSC". Everybody seems to have adopted the "Freeh-style".

Who is the PSC member?

Just how many are "multiple discussions" and how, exactly, were those claims filed and processed and what policies were affected and in what way where they affected......

Did Mr. Sutton and a "senior accountant" visit other attorneys' private offices to discuss a number of claims those attorneys intended to file?

Class members want/need to know this information that is apparently so readily available.

Clay said...

BP going to laugh their ass off when this all comes out.

Goodbye settlement. So goddamned short sighted.

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

http://youtu.be/LHQqqM5sr7g

crank it up....

Calph said...

These questions are primarily directed towards Freeh & co, but I'm curious about how you would answer them Jason.

Is there truly some question about the identity of the seemingly-corrupt law firm that Freeh et al. appear to have covered for?

Or is the accused firm left unnamed out of fear of libel claims or other retaliatory legal measures?

Or is there some other reason it's being kept quiet? Political consequences? Fear of giving BP ammunition to dismantle the whole settlement?

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

yes

Kevin said...

Getting back to the "men in grey suits" for just a second.

Do you know if the DHECC offices was the only entity/place associated with the BP settlement fund visited by the men in grey suits this week?

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

I believe there are other locations they have "visited". Can't confirm that though.

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

And on review of Calph's questions...

"Fear of giving BP ammunition to dismantle the whole settlement?"

No...I'm not personally afraid of that. BP has to know a thousand times more than anything I'm writing on this blog. I am not concerning myself with BP's intent when I publish. I am writing about this because I believe it's a tragedy on a Greek scale and I think these guys who are pulling the strings and fucking the system need to be revealed to the public they are betraying. The truth needs to come out despite of what BP may do with the settlement because long after this settlement is gone, these assholes will still be in this city/state pulling strings behind the scenes. And I think the public at least deserves to know who they are and what they are capable of.

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

Do I know who the firm is? Yes I believe I do.

Can I name that firm? No. Aside from the possibility of a defamation suit, I would not be in the least bit surprised if the whole thing is kept under rug even after Sutton's revelation and even worse, I wouldn't be surprised if the allegations are pinned on another, less influential firm as a patsy.

I woudn't put anything past this court and the PSC attorneys. I believe them to be corrupt beyond anything I've seen with Nagin, Meffert, Bennett, etc. Those guys were chumps compared to this level of corruption.

Kevin said...

That ought to be enough of the posturing/sabre-rattling/brinkmanship stuff and trying to scare them into making this go away.

Shine your light on it. Or, let them wrap it up in a neat little package with a strict confidentiality agreement, put some money in your pocket, put some money in your attorney's pocket, and we'll just get back to business as usual believing everything Freeh said in his report is true.

Kevin said...

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm asking these questions of any Louisiana lawyer, including Mr. Sutton and Ms. Reitano.

Does SM Freeh have an obligation, either as an attorney or as an officer of the court, to report the alleged conflicts and alleged misconduct of any DHECC and CAO attorneys, including special masters, to the Louisiana ODC? The 5th Circuit?

Are Mr. Sutton and Ms. Reitano also obligated, as attorneys licensed by the state of Louisiana, to report any alleged conflicts and alleged misconduct by attorneys in the DHECC and CAO, including special masters, to the ODC? The 5th Circuit?

Assuming Ms. Reitano were to succeed in her lawsuit against Pat Juneau and BP, would Pat Juneau be individually liable or would BP have to pay that bill, too?

Mr. Sutton: who is Pat Juneau's friend in Baton Rouge, and is any member of the Lafayette law firm related to a judge?

Ricardo said...

"any excess funds are paid out pro rata."
On WYES Informed Sources, 12/20, they said that BP was expecting 6500(?) shrimp claims based on estimates from the law firm in question. This law firm submitted only 450(?). So far only ONE shrimp claim has been paid and there are less than 16 are pending because 95% have been dis-allowed.
So the entire allotment for the shrimp claims will be disbursed pro-rata amongst less than 20 claims?

Kevin said...

Maybe someone in the DHECC or CAO will read this and answer my question:

Does Philip Garrett, CPA, have any relationship with the Herman Herman Katz and Cotlar law firm?

Does Philip Garrett, CPA, perform his work (reviewing expenses and costs submitted by the PSC for reimbursement) at the CAO, or does he perform his work somewhere else?

sutton said...

Kevin  

Over the last 6 months my belief in the legal system has been turned upside down. I've learned that there are those to whom the normal rules of Civil Procedure and Due Process and Candor to the Court just don't apply. For 23 years I practiced in a system where I honestly thought justice would ultimately prevail. The realization that it most certainly does not is hard to accept at this stage of my life.  

The questions you ask will be answered. But when dealing with a system that does not provide even a modicum of due process, all of your ducks better be in a row. There is evidence that proves every allegation in my response to the Freeh Report and every question you and others have asked. Louis Freeh has that evidence but I do not. One can only surmise as to why he has refused to share it. Until he does, anything that I say will be discounted as coming from  just another "corrupt lawyer". Think about it, the allegations against my wife and I were covered by nearly every newspaper and financial magazine on 2 continents. Our responses were covered by 1 local blog.  

I agree that there is an obligation to report the type of conduct that has occurred, but no one has more of an obligation than an "independent" Special Master in a Quasi Judicial role. Given the hostility of the current forum to discovering the truth, alternative forums are slowly but surely becoming involved. Even that has not been easy. Ask yourself how a simple state law contract claim filed in CDC can not only be removed to Federal Court but be "mistakenly" removed directly to the black hole of a MDL about an oil spill that occurred 3 years earlier.  Only to be followed by a Court Order that no motions objecting to the "mistake" can be filed until the Court decides to allow it.  

Rest assured, there will be no confidentiality agreement. Money lasts only so long but reputation  lasts forever.

Kevin said...

Sutton:

Thank you for your sincere comments and responses to my questions.

When I read the first paragraph of your response, it felt as though I have a twin or something. Just today I received written confirmation for the second time that “…there are those to whom the normal rules of Civil Procedure and Due Process and Candor to the Court just don't apply.” I’ve been a paralegal for almost 25 years. Like you, my situation also involves class action litigation; claims offices; Pat Juneau, Mary Olive Pierson hired by class counsel to drag my valid, unrelated, state court contract dispute into the black hole of the Western District of Louisiana (look around on the AZ where I post more about this harassing experience); and, you get the picture.

Also like you, my situation involves the evidence and supporting documents being in the possession and control of those who denied any wrongdoing. One observation about that: you are absolutely right about getting your ducks in a row. But, think about your first statement and ask yourself the question: “what if I spend all this time and money to get my hands on those documents and they don’t make any difference since the rules don’t apply to these people?”

I just presented the ODC with additional documents that show a class action attorney billing secretaries and bookkeepers as paralegals; political campaign contributions billed to the case as an expense; billing and being reimbursed for a jet used for the October 2000 Hillary Clinton senate campaign fund raiser at the Florida house of the class action attorney; cash advances to Hillary Clinton’s brother, Hugh Rodham; excerpts of depositions where class action lawyers (some in the BP litigation) testify about access to the White House and lobbying senators, and renting a house on Martha’s Vineyard for $12,000, etc. Long story short, 11 days after I filed my complaint, the ODC sent me a letter telling me I provided “insufficient” information for them to do anything. I think the ODC thinks class action attorneys are supposed to get treated differently.

My personal thought about Louis Freeh not sharing information is that the information would be embarrassing not only to some PSC counsel, but also the judge that appointed the PSC counsel and Freeh.

FWIW, I can’t think of a better local blog to cover your story. And, I believe your response is garnering all kinds of attention.

I agree that Freeh should use all the might and weight of his appointed position to bring credibility and “sufficiency” (whatever that is) to any and all ethical conduct investigations and proceedings. But, at the same time, the Louisiana ODC would do nothing but sit on the complaint until all the civil and criminal and political bullshit is over (if ever). By that time, any violator will have had his/her punishment mitigated by all the years going by.

The only way I was able to get out of the black hole in the Western District was to keep putting the facts back in their face, and to draw as much attention to the conduct of those involved – name them by name and spell it out in public pleadings every time you have the chance. Somebody else knows something else and they might just step up to help you. If you think there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.

I haven't worked on any BP claims or litigation except for drafting a petition way back in 2010. Besides, this is about potential abuses and corruption in the claims process. I have lots of experience in identifying that sort of stuff. The sooner the facts come out, the better off the class members will be, particularly those who were paid less simply because they didn't have a PSC member representing them.

Unquestionably, this whole thing is a heavy burden on you and your family on any regular day of any regular week. I wish for you and your family a Blessed Christmas and New Year.

Kevin said...

Sutton:

I'm sorry. My ODC complaint was against Calvin Fayard, Jr.

I think I'm allowed to say that per the rules regular people must follow.

Also, the documents and depo transcripts I speak about are now publicly available to be purchased on the web site of the Philadelphia First Judicial District Court of Common Pleas, Civil Trial Division, Civil Docket, case number 010500374, Arnold Levin v. Wendell Gauthier, et al. Or, I can email you a copy.

I really think any member of any PSC in any class action litigation in any court should look at those documents to get an idea of the kind of things that can pop up in "joint venture" and "plaintiff legal committee" arrangements.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh.....
http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/home/7920317-172/2-top-officials-leave-bp

Anonymous said...

I believe many have underestimated the power that BP and others are utilizing in this new scorched earth policy where they are possibly spending tens of millions internally and externally on every PI firm globally to go after the power brokers in this settlement.

I wonder if Calvin Fayard is getting nervous about right now?

Kevin said...

I learned today that an unbearably heartrending tragedy befell Blaine and Valerie Honeycutt and their family on Friday night.

I offer my sincerest sympathies to the Honeycutts.




Kevin said...

At NOLA.com, they not only don't "report" what is going on, they remove comments of those who do.

I posted the following last night and it was removed today:

"Thor:

You said "Just look at the guilty verdict of Kurt Mix. A trial cooked up by the federal government."

Do you know the name of the judge that presided over that case? It was Judge Duval.

I'm fairly certain I read somewhere that Judge Duval informed the parties that his son was working at the DHECC/CAO, and no one objected.

Just a little FYI - there is a ton of background on Odom, Fisher, the CAO, etc. at theamericanzombie.com."

What is wrong with that comment?

Dambala - Jason B. Berry said...

Mail the comment in on the Mayor or Herman and Herman letterhead....they'll publish it on the front page immediately. I doubt they'll even stop to read it.

Kevin said...

Anonymous December 23, 2013 at 1:33:00 PM CST said...

"I wonder if Calvin Fayard is getting nervous about right now?"

If he's nevous about anything, it's about whether or not Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for the Oval Office; whether or not she will get the Democrats to nominate her this time; and, whether or not America will elect a female Democrat to the Oval Office.

Now, that doesn't mean he might not be a little irritated that all those Castano PLC documents and partial depositions are now public with all that testimony about how he and other lawyers had direct access to and personally lobbied President Clinton and senators and representatives; about money advances and other perks provided to Hugh Rodham; etc.

Is he nervous about an investigation by Mr. Freeh, a former Clinton-appointed FBI Director? I don't think so.

What else could he be nervous about? I'm thinking ...

Kevin said...

Anonymous at December 23, 2013 at 1:33:00 PM CST said...

"I believe many have underestimated the power that BP and others are utilizing in this new scorched earth policy where they are possibly spending tens of millions internally and externally on every PI firm globally to go after the power brokers in this settlement."

Do you think those PIs read this local blog?

Anonymous said...

The Louisiana Office of Discliplinary Council(ODC)is the biggest Mickey Mouse Whore Club joke ever invented and its investigational, discliplinary and andenforcement powers are only operable against the small, politically unconnected attorneys.


I'd like to know who ( law firm)was the gatekeeper of the secret code to crack the claims' safe of BP and how much it got for releasing the secret code to other firms.

BP is going to be hiring more peeps since BP just struck another liquid gold mine in the very Gulf they had previously almost destroyed with BS safety record.

Kevin said...

It’s my personal belief that Mr. Fayard is nervous about his participation and conduct in the events culminating in his deplorable “Amen Brother” email with Michael Sherman where they appear to stroke each other in excitement over their success in intentionally wasting possibly the single-most valuable human asset of the Wisner Donation.

I believe he was nervous about a woman attorney who would not bend the rules and play the game in a way they needed her to play. At least that’s my opinion.