Saturday, December 26, 2015

David Vitter - Update on ethics complaint

As promised, I filed an ethics complaint against private investigator and attorney Wes Bearden for suborning perjury against me during the gubernatorial election.  I filed complaints with both the State Bar of Texas and the Louisiana State Bar Association.  Both complaints and the supplemental material should have arrived to the entities by December 14, 2015.

I have not heard back from either State Bar Association but I hope to at least receive confirmation of my complaints soon...I will keep you posted.

Here is the letter I sent to both entities:

Office of the Disciplinary Counsel
Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board
4000 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd, Suite 607
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816

My name is Jason Brad Berry, an independent journalist from New Orleans, Louisiana and author of The American Zombie blog.  My blog focuses on government corruption issues within the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana. 

On October 17th of 2015, I published a story and video interview of a former prostitute, Wendy Ellis (also known as Wendy Cortez), that was associated with United States Senator David Vitter, then a candidate in the Louisiana Gubernatorial race.  

Shortly after publishing this story, within one week, I noticed I was being followed by a man in a silver Ford Focus.  This individual would later be arrested at a coffee shop in Metairie, Louisiana attempting to record conversations between Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, another private investigator Danny Denoux and businessman/retired attorney John Cummings.  The event was highly publicized and the man, Robert J. Frenzel, admitted to working for the Dallas based private investigation firm, Bearden and Associates.  After being contacted by Sheriff Normand, the owner of Bearden and Associates, Wes Bearden, informed the sheriff that his firm was hired by David Vitter’s campaign to spy on me, Jason Berry, as well as the gentlemen in the coffee shop.  

As a result of the arrest, JPSO deputies seized Fresnel’s vehicle and the video recording device he was using to record the gentlemen in the coffee shop. During a press conference held on November 10, 2015, Sheriff Normand informed the public that the technical staff at the sheriff’s office was able to recover numerous recordings off the device including video of me, Jason Berry, at my house. 

Of particular note, they found a video recording of Wes Bearden, himself, meeting with an unnamed woman, supposedly a former friend of Wendy Ellis, at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) restaurant in Hammond, Louisiana.  According to Sheriff Normand, in the recorded interview, Bearden was attempting to get the woman to sign an affidavit that stated I, Jason Brad Berry, had paid her and possibly others to lie about Wendy Ellis’s relationship with Senator David Vitter.  According to Normand, at one point in the interview the woman stated that a fact wasn’t true and Bearden replied, “Well, it’s kind of true”.

I have never paid any source on any story I have ever written, I will state this under oath.  Not only did I not pay this woman, I never met or spoke with her.  It is unclear if Bearden wrote this affidavit for her and had her sign it or she wrote it herself but according to the Vitter campaign the affidavit, and possibly others, were turned into the Federal Bureau of Investigation as legal evidence to persuade an investigation into my work and stories related to him on my blog.  

Sheriff Normand suggested Bearden provided the woman with the written affidavit himself and was coaching her to “fill in the blanks”.   

In a Baton Rouge press event Senator Vitter also stated that his campaign had turned in affidavit(s), two or more, to the FBI. I have reason to believe Mr. Bearden may have contacted multiple sources I had previously spoken with while researching my story and coerced them to sign false affidavits.  I also have reason to believe Wes Bearden may have paid, or provided something of value to, the woman he met with at the IHOP in Hammond in order to get her to sign the false affidavit.  I believe he may have done this with other people as well.

Wes Bearden is an attorney who holds a legal license in both Louisiana and Texas.  According to the campaign finance records for David Vitter’s 2015 campaign, his company, Bearden and Associates, was being paid for “legal fees” not private investigation services.  

After speaking with an attorney, it is my understanding that not only has Wes Bearden committed a possible crime by suborning perjury and turning in false affidavits to a federal entity, he has most certainly committed an ethical violation as an attorney in both the state of Louisiana and the state of Texas.  Please consider this letter a formal complaint to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board in respect to Wes Bearden’s action of suborning perjury against me as a journalist and potentially submitting falsified affidavits to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  

I am available to discuss the matter at your convenience, thank you for your consideration.          

Jason Berry

I also provided both ODC boards with MP4 video files of Sheriff Normand's press conference where he describes the video recording of Bearden attempting to persuade an unnamed woman to sign pre-prepared false affidavit and "fill in the blanks".

You can watch that for yourself on WDSU's website here:

The relevant part is at about the 25:00 mark.

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