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Archive for the ‘ATC’ Category

Troy Hebert just won’t go away.

But in this case, he’s probably like to.

The former commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) is scheduled in U.S. District Court Monday as a federal racial discrimination LAWSUIT  against him and ATC cranks up.

The lawsuit, to be tried before U.S. District Court Judge John W. DeGravelles, was filed by former ATC agent Charles M. Gilmore of Baton Rouge, Daimin T. McDowell of Bossier Parish, and Larry J. Hingle of Jefferson Parish.

The three claim that Hebert made working conditions so bad that employees had to take medical leave or were forced to resign. Each of the three filed separate complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received “right to sue” notices.

LouisianaVoice first reported the filing of the lawsuit three years ago, in July 2014. https://louisianavoice.com/2014/07/14/forcing-grown-men-to-write-lines-overnight-transfers-other-bizarre-actions-by-troy-hebert-culminate-in-federal-lawsuit

The lawsuit says five African-American supervisors worked in the ATC Enforcement Division when Hebert, a former state senator from Jeanerette, was appointed by then-Gov. Bobby Jindal in November 2010. “By means of the manipulative actions by Troy Hebert…there are now no African-American supervisors within the ATC Enforcement Division,” the petition says.

Prior to Hebert’s appointment, the three “had unblemished records with no prior disciplinary actions,” the suit says. “Each…had been promoted to supervisory positions at ATC before Troy Hebert’s arrival.”

The suit says Hebert “deliberately acted in disregard of the plaintiffs’ clearly established rights to be free from racial discrimination, race-based harassment and retaliation.

Gilmore worked for 10 years as a corrections sergeant and Louisiana State Police trooper before joining ATC in 1998 where he worked his way up to Special Agent in Charge until he was “constructively discharged” by Hebert on Sept. 27, 2013, the lawsuit says.

“Constructive discharge” is when working conditions become so intolerable that an employee cannot stay in the position or accepts forced resignation.

McDowell was hired by ATC in 2005 and in his seven years was promoted three times. Hingle was hired in 1991. During his 21 years of employment, he was also promoted three times.

The lawsuit also alleges that on Aug. 22, 2012, two days after taking leave, Gilmore and McDowell were told by fellow agent Brette Tingle that Hebert intended to break up the “black trio” a reference to Gilmore, McDowell and Supervising Agent Bennie Walters. Walters was subsequently fired on Sept. 7.

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There are times when, after you break a major story about official wrongdoing and after the requisite denials by those involved, everything gets quiet and the story seems to have hit a dead end. Or at least been placed in a state of suspended animation.

But generally, if you are willing to be patient and wait long enough, the story gets new life with the surfacing of new information.

So it was a year ago when LouisianaVoice and New Orleans Fox8 News investigative reporter Lee Zurik simultaneously broke a STORY that Troy Hebert, former director of the Office of Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control (and furtive candidate for the U.S. Senate last fall—he got one-half of one percent of the vote), was under investigation by the FBI for:

  • Extorting sex from a New Orleans woman, Sarah Palmer, in exchange for approval of a liquor license for the French Quarter restaurant she managed, and
  • Illegally steered applicants for liquor licenses to attorney Chris Young for representation through Young’s sister, Judy Pontin, executive management officer for the New Orleans ATC office.

Now, thanks to a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Hebert by a former ATC agent, those same issues have surfaced again.

Documents concerning still another issue, the suppressing of an investigation into a Baton Rouge bar following a 2012 accident involving a patron of the bar who had a blood alcohol content of .307 when he struck and killed two cyclists, killing one and injuring the other.

LouisianaVoice wrote in a February 2016 POST that Hebert wrongfully took control of the investigation and personally exonerated the Bulldog Bar from any wrongdoing. Chris Young was legal counsel for the Bulldog.

The only problem for fired ATC agent Brett Tingle, who filed the lawsuit against Hebert, it’s possible that none of Hebert’s repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment in a deposition will be allowed into testimony.

Federal Judge John DeGravelles of Louisiana’s Middle District in Baton Rouge, currently has under advisement Hebert’s motion for protective order filed by attorney Renee Culotta which would, if granted, prohibit Tingle’s attorney, J. Arthur Smith, III, from posing any questions at trial about Hebert’s relationship with Palmer and/or Young.

In Hebert’s deposition taken in December in preparation for trial in the Tingle matter, Hebert repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment when Palmer’s name was brought up by Smith, as illustrated by the following exchanges:

  • Smith: “Do you recognize this (redacted) document?”
  • Hebert: “I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “Do you know a lady by the name of Sara (sic) Palmer?”
  • Hebert: “I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “Have you engaged in any infidelity during your marriage to Dawn Vick?”
  • Hebert: “I’m going to exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “That’s not a Fifth Amendment matter.”
  • Smith” I’m going to show you Exhibit No. 9 (redacted). What is this document, sir?
  • Hebert: I will exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”
  • Smith: “So with respect to Exhibit No. 9, you’re exercising your Fifth Amendment right”
  • Hebert: “I answered the question.”
  • Smith: “I’ll show you (exhibit) No. 10 (redacted). Do you recognize the Exhibit No. 10?”
  • Hebert: “I will exercise my Fifth Amendment right.”

While the exhibits were redacted in Hebert’s Memorandum of Support for obvious reasons, the motion did note that exhibits eight and nine were “documents concerning” Louisiana Oyster House, dba Star Steak and Lobster (the restaurant managed by Palmer), notably a notice of violation and renewal applications. Exhibit 10, Culotta said, “concerned Chris Young documents previously attached to Hebert’s deposition as Exhibit 10-12.”

Interestingly, in his Memorandum in Support of his Motion for Protective Order, Hebert said that while he has not been indicted and there is “no active criminal case” against him… “It is clear Hebert has been under investigation by the FBI, and should he provide answers to these questions, he could face indictment and criminal prosecution.” (Emphasis added.)

And this memorandum, we should point out, was written by Hebert’s attorney, Renee Culotta, who is being paid thousands of dollars while under contract to the Attorney General’s office as a contract attorney—just as she was in a previous lawsuit against ATC, that of Lisa Pike, a former ATC employee who also sued Hebert. The terms of that settlement have been held confidential by the court.

LouisianaVoice has made a public records request for Culotta’s billing for legal representation in the Pike matter. Her billing in the defense of the Tingle lawsuit would not be made available because the case is ongoing.

Culotta said in the memorandum that allegations by Palmer against Hebert “occurred in January 2016, well after Tingle’s work for and termination from the ATC. Tingle did not participate in any issue concerning Sarah Palmer and/or Steak and Lobster, and no facts about Palmer or Steak and Lobster are contained in (Tingle’s) complaint.

“Likewise, the issues concerning Chris Young (i.e., whether Hebert gave preferential treatment to Young and/or referred clients to Young as part of an illegal scheme) are also not a part of this lawsuit and are not relevant to and have no bearing on whether Hebert allegedly retaliated against Tingle because of Tingle’s participation in the race discrimination charges and lawsuits filed by three African-American employees.

Tingle’s counsel’s questions and discovery concerning Chris Young and/or Sarah Parker were only meant to embarrass and harass Hebert,” Culotta said in her memorandum.

“Hebert cannot fully defend himself in the civil case (i.e., by explaining his position concerning Young, Palmer and (t)he Star Steak and Lobster license renewal) while the threat of criminal prosecution is looming.

“Plaintiff cannot have it both ways: if he intends to pursue this evidence, he then must agree to a stay in order that Hebert can defend himself without threat of criminal prosecution.

“Defendant Troy Hebert respectfully requests (that) this court issue a protective order forbidding plaintiff’s counsel from discovering, asking any questions about or referencing Chris Young, Sarah Palmer and/or the Star Steak and Lobster restaurant going forward in this litigation. To the extent plaintiff claims these issues are relevant, then Hebert respectfully asks the court to stay the proceedings until the statute of limitations has run on any criminal charges that could be brought in connection with these matters.” (Emphasis added.)

Now I don’t pretend to be a legal scholar. Journalism schools (or at least the one I attended) sadly do not require any courses in law even though any career journalist is going to be covering courtroom procedure at some point during his career.

That said, it appears to me that someone is one helluva lot more concerned with potential criminal exposure than any civil liability.

But then, that’s understandable. If a public official is convicted of criminal wrongdoing, he is the one who is penalized. If, on the other hand, a civil verdict is returned against that same individual, it is the taxpayer who ultimately pays whatever judgment is assessed.

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No sooner had The Donald pulled off the biggest political upset since dewey-defeats-trumanthan the speculation on who would hold which cabinet position had begun. And it got downright scary.

There was former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani being touted as Attorney General.

Yep. That’s all we need: A doddering old has-been who has all he can handle to remember his own name standing in as the premier legal authority in the land. He’s probably the only one who could make John Mitchell look good.

And Newt-for-God’s-sake-Gingrich as Secretary of State?

And the Republicans thought Hillary was bad in that role?

Next thing you know, Trump will be tossing out Charles Koch’s name as Secretary of the Interior.

And how about Chris Christie as Secretary of Defense?

Or Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as Secretary of the Treasury? I mean, look what he’s done for that state’s finances.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, in a story quickly picked up by state media, a familiar name (to Louisianans, that is) is being pitched as a potential choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Bobby Jindal.

Are you kidding me?

Apparently not. http://www.wdsu.com/article/report-former-gov-bobby-jindal-being-considered-for-cabinet-role-in-trump-administration/8263712

For some reason the locals believe that because he worked for former Gov. Mike Foster as Secretary of Health and Hospitals and for former President George W. Bush as a special adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, he somehow has a shot at a similar role in the Trump administration.

I would refer those reporters to chapters 30 through 37 of my book Bobby Jindal: His Destiny and Obsession. Those chapters include the sordid details of how Jindal single-handedly dismantled the state’s model public teaching hospital system to benefit a few greedy political hangers-on—even to the point of signing off on a contract containing 50 blank pages. A rhetorical question: would anyone reading this ever sign his or her name to any document containing even one blank page?

As an added bonus, I would refer you to Chapter 17 of the book which details how Jindal’s Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols landed a cushy lobbying position with Ochsner Health System after helping negotiate a deal whereby Ochsner would partner with Terrebonne General Medical Center to take over operation of the state’s Leonard Chabert Medical Center in Houma.

At least the WSJ thought to mention failed GOP presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson as also being under consideration for the Health and Human Services post.

That would, after all, make a little more sense. After all, Carson did pipe up from time to time on behalf of Trump’s candidacy. We heard nary a peep from the Louisiana wannabe wunderkind Piyush Jindal after he removed himself from the Republican presidential sweepstakes last November…and no one noticed (of course they didn’t notice while he was running, either). All he did was join the board of some Texas corporation and quickly fade from memory—helping the Republican Party but crushing my book sales in the process.

Hey, Donald, here’s a heads-up. After Tuesday’s race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter, there are two former U.S. Representatives who ran unsuccessfully for the upper chamber who are now unemployed.

And they both just happen to be doctors.

But how can you trump (pun intended) a Rhodes Scholar?

If James Comey wasn’t doing such a splendid job, you might even consider Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson to head up the FBI. Think how regal he’d look sitting behind old J. Edgar’s desk.

But while you’re at it, you may be needing a new Secretary of Immigration and Border Protection. We understand David Duke just pulled an astonishing 3 percent of the vote in that same U.S. Senate race and may be looking for something to do. And we already know the rapport he has with minorities. Why, he’d fit right in.

And while you’re at it, you may be on the lookout for someone to replace Jeh Johnson as Secretary of Homeland Security.

There’s this fellow who previously did such a stellar job running the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control—into the ground. Troy Hebert did even worse than Duke, racking up a whopping .5 percent of the vote in the 24-person Senate race. That’s one-half of one damn percentage point. Imagine what he could do for Homeland Security.

He may even still have his badge from his ATC days.

Yep, Donald, if you’re looking for washed up political has-beens to lead your administration—and it appears that you are—we have a boatload of ‘em down here in Louisiana.

Take your pick.

Please.

(Apologies to Henny Youngman.)

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In the year following Mike Edmonson’s initial appointment as State Police Superintendent, the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association (LSTA) was allowed to sell more than $9,000 in alcoholic beverages at the Joint Emergency Services Training Center (JESTC) in Zachary, LouisianaVoice has learned.

There is an entire Louisiana State Police (LSP) Web page dedicated to an extensive campaign against drinking and driving.

Moreover, sources say that as late as September 2015, alcohol was served during events at the facility which the JESTC Web page says is “maintained and operated by the Louisiana State Police,” though LSP sources have denied any alcohol was “sold” at the facility since 2010.

LSTA ran a bar at the LSP training facility through an entity called LSTA Enterprises, LLC, and while LSTA Enterprises did have a permit to sell alcohol during the last half of 2009 and all of 2010, its permit was “closed” on Jan. 31, 2011.

Name and Address

Name Mail Address Public Address
LSTA ENTERPRISES LLC 8120 JEFFERSON HWY BATON ROUGE, LA 70809 1400 W IRENE RD ZACHARY, LA 70791

Permit Information

Information provided is current.

Credential License Type Issue Date Expiration Date Status Reason Owner Information
AG.17.0000012833-BL CLASS A GENERAL BEER AND LIQUOR CLOSED CLOSED DUE TO REISSUE LSTA ENTERPRISES LLC
E.17.0000012833-BL CLASS E BEER AND LIQUOR 02/01/2010 01/31/2011 CLOSED OUT OF BUSINESS LSTA ENTERPRISES LLC
TMP.17.0000012833 TEMPORARY PERMIT 05/22/2009 06/25/2009 CLOSED LSTA ENTERPRISES LLC

LSP spokesman Doug Cain told LouisianaVoice on Thursday, “No alcohol has been sold at the facility since 2010,” though he stopped short of saying no alcohol had been served there since that date.

At events in 2013 and 2015, LouisianaVoice has learned, alcohol was served at a “free bar,” meaning alcoholic beverages were served at a bar at no charge. Regardless of whether alcohol is sold or provided on a complimentary basis, Louisiana state law requires that any entity or person who serves alcohol to obtain a liquor permit.

http://www.atc.rev.state.la.us/AlcoholFAQs.php

And regardless of whether alcohol is sold or provided free of charge, there are strict prohibitions against the presence of alcohol in corrections facilities. http://doc.louisiana.gov/frequently-asked-questions/

State prison trustys are housed at the same training complex as JETSC, which would appear to violate that prohibition.

The Louisiana Secretary of State’s corporate records page lists the corporate address for LSTA Enterprises, LLC as 8120 Jefferson Highway, which is the same address of the LSTA. Also, the Secretary of State also lists David Young as agent and manager of LSTA Enterprises. Young also is Executive Director of LSTA

Business: LSTA ENTERPRISES, L.L.C.
Charter Number: 37011447K
Registration Date: 4/2/2009

 

Domicile Address
8120 JEFFERSON HIGHWAY
BATON ROUGE, LA 708091626

 

Mailing Address
C/O DAVID YOUNG
8120 JEFFERSON HIGHWAY
BATON ROUGE, LA 708091626

 

Status
Status: Active
Annual Report Status: In Good Standing
File Date: 4/2/2009
Last Report Filed: 6/11/2016
Type: Limited Liability Company

 

Registered Agent(s)

 

Agent: DAVID YOUNG
Address 1: 8120 JEFFERSON HIGHWAY
City, State, Zip: BATON ROUGE, LA 70809-1626
Appointment Date: 4/2/2009

 

Officer(s) Additional Officers: No 

 

Officer: DAVID YOUNG
Title: Manager
Address 1: 8120 JEFFERSON HIGHWAY
City, State, Zip: BATON ROUGE, LA 70809-1626

 

Cain said that the bar originally was set up to serve trainees during a time that an outfit called Triple Canopies leased the JESTC facility. Triple Canopy, founded in May 2003 by veteran U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, is a private security company that provides risk management, security, and mission support services for corporate, government and non-profit clients. “It wasn’t set up for folks to come in, have a drink, and then drive home,” Cain said. “It was for temporary residents undergoing training to have a drink before going to bed in the dormitory.”

The last event at which alcohol was sold at the facility, he said, “was in 2010.”

But sources told LouisianaVoice that at least two events were held after that date at which alcohol was served at a free bar. Both were memorials held in June of 2013 and September 2015, with the invitation to the latter specifically promoting “prayer, fellowship, food and beverages.”

LSTA describes itself on its Web page as a benevolent organization committed to improved pay and benefits, a better working environment, to providing support when needed, and to increasing the quality of life for members. “We also strive to improve the public services provided by our members to our community,” it says.

LouisianaVoice obtained a copy of LSTA’s 2009 federal tax return in which it itemized more than $875,000 in expenses, of which only $86,156 was for “miscellaneous member benefits” and “contributions and gifts.” Employee salaries and benefits accounted for $179,000 and another $142,000 was spent on “conferences, conventions and meetings,” lending credence to claims by some that LSTA is more of a source of parties than benevolent works.

Among the itemized LSTA salaries, were those of then-President Frank Besson ($16,000) and Treasurer Stephen Lafargue ($4,800). The report said Besson devoted eight hours per week to his LSTA duties and Lafargue two hours per week.

The tax return also showed that LSTA received $9,816 for “operation of a bar for members of the association.” http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/720/720841049/720841049_200912_990O.pdf

LouisianaVoice attempted to contact Young for a comment but we were told he was out of the office. We then emailed Cain, explaining that ATC records showed that LSTA held a liquor license under the name of LSTA Enterprises, LLC in 2009 and 2010.

Secretary of state records for LSTA Enterprises, LLC, we said in an email to Cain, listed David Young as the agent, officer and manager and records further show the entity to still be viable as a filing of June 2016. Corporate records show the address as 8120 Jefferson Highway, which is the address of LSTA.

LSTA Enterprises LLC, however, gave 1400 West Irene Road, Zachary, as the address for its liquor permit. That, of course, is the address of JESTC, we wrote.

We then asked: Does LSP take the position, given its public stance against drinking and driving, that allowing a private entity to sell alcoholic beverages on property “maintained and operated” by LSP is appropriate?

Rather than address the propriety of operating a bar on LSP property, however, Cain went to great lengths to deny that such an operation still exists and that its only purpose in 2010 was to serve on-site patrons who were being temporarily housed at the JESTC facility.

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Trying to write about Troy Hebert, former director of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC), without getting mired down in controversy is a little like trying to run in knee-deep mud.

Likewise, attempts to make sense of it all is akin to trying to interpret a paint factory explosion as an expression of avant garde art.

avant-garde-art

It’s long past time to move on. Hebert is no longer conducting his misrule at ATC and he’s going about as far in his bid for U.S. Senator as Bobby Jindal did in his equally comical quest for the Republican presidential nomination. But flies have experienced less difficulty escaping from spider webs than we have in moving past the saga of Hebert et al.

It’s no longer a matter of LouisianaVoice writing about Troy Hebert; now it’s sub-factions sending messages back and forth, accusing each other of lying, threatening lawsuits, and still more anonymous sources coming forward with new information. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/09/20/fbi-agent-says-hebert-cleared-of-corruption-n-o-publication-way-off-in-identifying-our-story-source/

We no sooner pose our story about New Orleans attorney and former State Sen. Julie Quinn’s three-page letter to New Orleans CityBusiness demanding a retraction of its story about Quinn’s alleged representation of clients before ATC in applications for liquor licenses than we received copies of documents appearing to refute all of Quinn’s refutations.

This time, rather than offer denials of Facebook postings or legal representation, this unknown person, using the synonym “Sherlock Holmes” (not too terribly original), sent a screenshot of a Facebook post Quinn said she did not send. Also included were documents indicating that Quinn may have indeed represented clients in liquor license application matters.

Here is the complete text of that email:

From: Sherlock Holmes [mailto:] Sent: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 3:28 PM To: azspeak@cox.net Subject: Julie Quinn is LYING to you

Tom,

In your September 20, 2016 article you reported that LA attorney and former state senator, Julie Quinn told Louisiana Voice that she had never represented a client before ATC and quoted her as stating “I don’t do liquor licenses and I have NEVER in my career represented a single client in a liquor permit matter” (emphasis added).

Interestingly, in the letter to City Business from Quinn’s law partner, Mr. Alsterberg, (that you have attached to your October 4, 2016 article) he states: “…in fact, throughout her entire career, Ms. Quinn has only assisted a single client in this type of matter [alcohol licensing], which occurred four years ago on behalf of a restaurant located in the warehouse district, not a bar located in the French Quarter.”

Based on these two contradictory statements, it is clear that Ms. Quinn LIED  to you. 

Also, the attached emails, articles and Facebook post provide irrefutable evidence that Ms. Quinn, and now her law partner, continue to lie about her business dealings involving the ATC and also about her Facebook activity. I WONDER WHAT SHE IS TRYING TO HIDE????

Julie Quinn has represented (or held herself out to state governmental officials and the media as representing) at least 6 clients in ATC related matters between Jan 2013 and March 2016 including: a business in Grand Isle that was operating under a previous owner’s permit; a French Quarter business that had its permit revoked and had a bad reputation in the area for being a location frequented by prostitutes, panderers, johns, and were multiple arrest for drugs and weapons were made; and 3 French Quarter strip clubs.   

The attached documents also show that Quinn did in fact do more than “post links to two articles” on her Facebook page and that she did in fact make a Facebook post insinuating that “she just killed a politician.”  As you will see, the Facebook post provided were made in near proximity to your article about the FBI investigating Troy Hebert.

In addition to his email message, “Sherlock” also included DOCUMENTS that included copies of the Facebook screen shot, emails that alluded to representation of clients applying for liquor licenses, and news stories citing Quinn as the source of a Facebook post of a cartoon about confessing to killing “a politician.”

With stories in the queue about a significant court ruling on public records, flood recovery efforts and potential a judicial conflict of interests on the part of a Baton Rouge judge, this should be the final word in the sordid saga of Troy Hebert.

But it probably won’t be.

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