Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DHECC - Lionel Sutton Interview Part 2 - how the "go-to guy" became the fall guy

In this segment of posts on the Lionel Sutton interview, I want to back up and examine the history of how Sutton and his wife, Christine Reitano, came to work at the Deepwater Horizon Economic Claims Center, what their roles were and I want to let Lionel draw a picture for AZ readers as to the general operations and M.O. at the Claims Office in respect to his own job.

This will be a lengthy post but I think it’s important to lay the foundation for upcoming posts.

Remember, Sutton held no stipulations on what I could ask him.  He was an open book and answered all my questions….on camera….and that shit ain’t easy.   

Freeh, Juneau and some of the PSC members have conducted multiple interviews with MSM entities but none of these journalistic resources have asked questions about the issues I've brought up on AZ.  Claims Administrator, Patrick Juneau, has repeatedly ignored my requests for an interview.  

Doing what this blog (and I suppose any blog worth its salt) does best, I’d like to give the voiceless...the pariah...Lionel Sutton...the stage.  I'd like to allow Mr. Sutton the opportunity to explain his side of the story and his current plight.  You, AZ reader, can draw your own conclusions.
One may consider this interview series a biased effort but keep in mind, I have extended multiple invitations to Mr. Juneau for interviews and received no response.  I still extend the invitation to interview anyone involved in this story: Pat Juneau, Louis Freeh, Carl J. Barbier, Sally Shushan, and any PSC firm….in fact I beg them to speak with me on the record.  I've even begged them through FOIA requests. 

How He Got The Job

This first byte is basically background on Lionel Sutton’s relationship with Pat Juneau previous to his employment at the Claims Office and how both he and his wife, Christine Reitano, came to work at the Claims Office:

This byte establishes a couple of interesting factoids.  

Reitano was a full-time employee where Sutton was simply a part-time contractor.  This is why she has filed the "breach of contract" lawsuit against the office and Sutton doesn’t have that option.  But Sutton’s situation works both ways, he also never signed the same confidentiality agreements Reitano did to gain employment at the Claims Office….therefore, he can speak freely.

Another really interesting revelation in this byte is the history between Sutton and Juneau…it certainly wasn’t a casual relationship.  According to Lionel, they had known each other for years and even had business relationships previous to Sutton’s tenure at the Claims Office.  

This story doesn’t seem to gel with Pat Juneau’s deposition in Louis Freeh’s investigation:

Freeh (interviewer for Freeh Group):  Are you the individual who hired Mr. Sutton?

Juneau:  I guess you could say -- yeah, I think so.

Freeh (interviewer for Freeh Group): Did anyone recommend that you hire him, if you recall?

Juneau:  No. I don't think -- I mean, I don't remember anybody
this is what I remember. I remember he sought the employment.
Obviously, his wife, she had been there since the
inception. I knew Sutton before. He was from New Iberia,
Louisiana. He had worked for me for a short period of time, I
don't know, maybe a year -- I don't know how many years ago,
15 years ago or something like that -- in Lafayette, Louisiana.
I hadn't seen that guy. I had no contact with him
subsequent to that.
I hired his wife. Then he came and said he would
like to work. I considered that. I said, "Well, give me your

Juneau clearly had contact with Lionel Sutton within that 15-year time frame.  Sutton stated that he was the one who asked Juneau to hire Reitano….they were absolutely in contact with each other.

His whole response there is rather aloof but that seems to be Pat Juneau’s general strategy…plausible deniability.  He played that card with the 409 expedited claims by suggesting they were part of a “sampling process” but I still haven’t been able to find any record of this sampling process in the court record.  More importantly, we still haven’t received a plausible excuse for expediting the Corps Constructors claim which occurred well after the fairness hearing and Corps Constructors couldn’t possibly have been part of a “sampling process”.

We also don't have any idea what knowledge Federal Judge Carl J. Barbier had of the 409 expedited claims or of Barbier's alleged "sampling process".   The Judge has been conveniently silent on that one. 

The Job Description

In this next byte, Sutton explains how his duties immediately shifted at the Claims Office, once he started working for Juneau.  He describes how he inadvertently became the “go-to” guy at the office and started fielding claimants’ and claims attorneys’ questions:

This is an interesting byte to me because it provides a snapshot into the operations and hierarchy of the office.  It’s pretty clear Juneau surrounded himself with “filters”, Sutton being one of the most important.  

I’m not criticizing Juneau here, I’m just noting that it appears he has a very hands-off approach to management.  That could explain how he may have allowed Kirk Fisher and David Odom to subcontract their own business, Alpha Consulting, to the Claims Office…perhaps he really didn’t know what was going on.  Once again…plausible deniability.

The Hammer Drops

In the next byte, I ask Lionel about the charges brought against him by Louis Freeh and how he first discovered he was being investigated:

2 Lionel Sutton - 4 - How Lionel found out he was being investigated.mov from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

So, keep in mind that Sutton has repeatedly stated that he informed Juneau of his involvement with the Thonn claim before he ever took his part-time position at the Claims Office.  He does admit to asking for the referral fee on this claim which he passed off to Andry-Lerner before he took the job at the DHECC but he denies ever having tried to expedite and/or manipulate the claim once he started working at the office, an allegation of which Freeh accused him. 

In this byte he also points out that checking on claims was his job….he was continually being asked to check on the status of claims by the Claims Administrator, Pat Juneau, himself.  

I’m not playing defense attorney, I’m simply reiterating Sutton’s assertions here in case you’re too lazy to watch the video.  

The other allegations Freeh brought up against Sutton were his business dealings with Glen Lerner and that he, Sutton, had claims pending in the Claims Office.  Lionel addresses that matter in this byte:

According to Lionel, there seemed to be no clear mandate regarding a conflict of interest with him being in business with Lerner or having a business claim filed in the DHECC while he was working within the Claims Office.  

The guidelines apparently weren’t even understood by Pat Juneau, himself, per the story Lionel Sutton told about Juneau’s son having a claim and Magistrate Shushan ordering Juneau to have his son withdraw the claim.  I don't honestly see what the problem was with Juneau's son having a claim in the system as long as Juneau wasn't manipulating it in any way but he had him withdraw it so there's no issue there.

But hang on...

Admittedly, the above explanation by Sutton may seem excusatory but I want you to listen to this next byte:

Members of the appeals panel had claims themselves?  (Did they have seafood claims?  I’ll explain why that matters later.)

Freeh: Ambiguity = "Crime"?  Or Freeh: "Prosecution" = $$$$?  Both.
Alright...let’s wrap this post up.

After working on this story for over a year, having talked to multiple sources and hearing this firsthand account by Lionel Sutton….I want to propose a basic thesis…actually a theory, if you will:

I don’t think anyone really knew what the ethical parameters of this settlement were because I don’t think the guy in charge, Pat Juneau, defined the parameters clearly from the onset of the settlement.  I don’t think he defined them because I don’t think he had a clear idea of what they should be to begin with.  

Or perhaps he did and he just didn’t do his job.

For a guy that is reportedly making 300k a month on this settlement and over 7 million to date (not substantiated…yet...but working on it)…..that’s inexcusable.  

Compound that with the fact that he’s reportedly billing this MDL settlement 40 hours a week while simultaneously serving as the Claims Administrator for two other MDL settlements….

….well….Houston...and London…we have a problem.   

Juneau's MO aside, what happened with the Freeh investigation is more important. 

Sutton, Reitano and Andry Lerner were offered up to BP and subsequently to the international MSM volcano gods by super-duper, glorified-gumshoe, Louis Freeh.  They were thrown into the mouth of the volcano and the lava did flow

(Keep in mind, that’s all Freeh really is…a private investigator hired by the Federal Court.  The guy has no ability to make criminal charges and if he or his minions have threatened people with that power then Freeh himself, and his employees, need to be investigated.)  

In his report, Freeh went so far as to suggest criminal charges should be brought up against Sutton, Reitano and Andry Lerner.  His job was supposed to root out all instances of corruption within the DHECC.  He's released two reports and ignored one of the main items he mentioned in his first report, the page 60 firm who falsified claims. 

Surprisingly, this guy’s company is now, possibly, the largest contractor in the settlement.

Try to wrap your head around this....Freeh “prosecuted” himself into an ever-expanding multimillion-dollar contract within this settlement.  And when he got in, everything started to change, including the actual terms of the settlement, itself, and the scrutiny of how claims are interpreted.   All to BP’s delight.

Also understand that no criminal charges have EVER been brought against the people he originally named in his first report.  None.  Nada.  Nothing.

When you read stories about BP's defeat in the appellate court...ignore the word "defeat".  BP has exactly what they want, the Freeh Group running the Claims Office.  

I”m going to break off here.  Next up we’re going to take a closer look at Louis Freeh’s “investigation”.  That will lead us into the Page 60 firm….yowza...

It’s good stuff, stay tuned.     

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any contact from Juneau on this post? Surely he wants to comment on Lionel's assertions.