dimanche 10 février 2013

Douglas K. Handshoe: Liquidating assets

Douglas K. Handshoe had a few comments to make recently on his involvement in the Bankston/Goodson bribery, racketeering, and money laundering scandal:

So, according to Mr. Handshoe, he was simply always a "liquidating agent" working with U.S. Attorneys from Baton Rouge. He was in charge of selling assets; that's interesting. From his comment you'd think he was just a disinterested "good guy," court-appointed accountant. But what's a Mississippi CPA doing in a bankruptcy proceeding in the Western District of Louisiana, with the Department of Justice as an interested party?

This started in 1997, and as already reviewed, he appears alongside Maria and Alex Goodson on the bankruptcy court docket as the accountant for Truck Stop Gaming, Ltd., a company forfeit as part of a criminal RICO enterprise. What's more he was a fellow corporate officer with the man convicted in that trial, Fred H. Goodson, in a company at the center of the scandal involving misleading the Louisiana State Police and the questionable transfer of assets from a soon-to-be bankrupt company (F.H.G.) to the one Handshoe was Treasurer for in the early 90s, Slidell Motel, Inc., part of Slidell's "O'Aces Casino" a dba name. The Times-Picayune had clarified: "Before filing Chapter 11, however, F.H.G. sold the truck stop franchise to a new company called Slidell 76 Auto Truck Plaza, and the hotel to a new company called Slidell Motel, Inc. Both companies are also owned by Goodson , his wife and in-laws."

The Las Vegas Sun took an interest in the trial testimony in May, 1997:
Goodson's lawyer, Carl Cleveland, and his accountant, Joe Morgan, also are on trial, accused of devising a fraudulent business scheme to form O'Aces and conceal $1.3 million in profits.
Prosecutors allege that Goodson's adult children were made paper owners of O'Aces to hide the real owners, Cleveland and Fred Goodson. Defense attorneys say it was done only so the younger Goodsons would not have to pay estate taxes if their father died.
Two former employees of the Goodsons were questioned briefly and let off without any cross examination by the defense.
L.C. Duff said he worked at the O'Aces video poker lounge in Slidell, and described his jobs. He said Maria Goodson managed the parlor while her brother, co-owner Alex Goodson, showed up about twice in two years.
Katherine Lindsley, a bartender and machine technician for the O'Aces lounge, said that on her shift alone - the 4 p.m. to midnight shift - the machines probably brought in $4,000 to $13,000 a day.
The whole Goodson/Bankston trial was, of course, part of a massive Department of Justice effort against the mafia infiltration of video gaming in Louisiana. On June 4, 1994, the New York Times reported:
Since video poker was legalized in Louisiana in 1991, the blinking electronic machines have swept the state, showing up in barrooms, hotels, crayfish restaurants in the swamps and even at huge truck stops, where the main business is not refueling but playing video poker.
That week 17 persons in both New York and Louisiana were indicted. The Times continued:
The indictment accuses the Genovese and Gambino families in New York and the Marcello family in New Orleans of engaging in a pattern of racketeering by forming an enterprise to profit from video poker operations while hiding their connections to organized crime.
. . . .
Among those arrested in New Orleans were Anthony S. Carollo of Slidell, La., who was named in the indictment as the boss of the Marcello crime family, and Joseph Paul Marcello Jr., brother of the late Carlos Marcello, who was long regarded as the head of the Mafia in Louisiana.
How did the mafia infiltrate the video gaming industry? By using 2 Louisiana companies to place "about 15,000 machines" they got from Bally Gaming on a line of credit "in more than 2,000 bars and truck stops across the state." Wonder where Handshoe and Goodson's Slidell Motel, Inc. got its video poker machines? The sales started to occur in 1992, the same year Handshoe joined Slidell Motel, according to corporate records. It's interesting, too, that Mr. Handshoe has bragged about how his grandfather was a bag man for Carlos Marcello and was indicted but kept silent; also how his partner in blogging Anne-Marie Vandenweghe was in business with Victor J. Trapani, Jr., son of Carlos Marcello's business partner in a Jefferson Parish casino. 

Now, it is clear that Handshoe knows about liquidating things and use of corporations, as public records in Mississippi and court recrods in Louisiana show he has just recently sold his home in Bay St. Louis; he was served with the federal defamation lawsuit against him in a rental; and he has transferred his vehicle titles into a corporate name. Interesting move for a man purportedly not legitimately liable for a $425,000 defamation judgment.

It is indeed true, as Mr. Handshoe says above, that he was approved "liquidating agent" by the bankruptcy court in 1999, but that was done at the request of Truck Stop Gaming, Ltd., not the Baton Rouge U.S. Attorney's Office.

In addition, the rest of his chronology is a bit off. The trouble is that for nearly 2 years before that, he acted as the paid accountant for Truck Stop Gaming, alongside its attorneys, in an attempted Chapter 11 reorganization of the company, paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now why did Mr. Handshoe leave that detail out?

As Mr. Handshoe was working to sell off the assets of Maria and Alex Goodson's Truck Stop Gaming, Ltd. in western Louisiana, the Mississippi Secretary of State shows he was also forming a new corporation with Alex Goodson--Fred Gooson's son--in Mississippi. "Interstate Management Services, Inc." The papers bearing Handshoe's signature alongside that of Goodson were filed on September 23, 1997, a time at which Fred Goodson had not yet started to serve his prison sentence.

It was in September, 1997, that Truck Stop Gaming appears to have tried to ramp up efforts to liquidate assets, paying out monies to creditors. Indeed, Alex's father Fred Goodson somehow had the means to keep fighting his conviction through the 1990s, as did his former attorney Cleveland, whose law firm was also a creditor in the bankruptcy proceeding, but Goodson couldn't shake the multiple counts. On May 25, 2000 the Baton Rouge Advocate reported:
Goodson's attorney, Paul Enzinna of Washington, D.C., likewise tried to convince Vance on Wednesday that, if the Supreme Court throws out Goodson's mail-fraud conviction, some of his most serious felony charges also could be reversed. Like Cleveland, Goodson began serving his 121-month sentence in December 1997. 

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Boitmann argued that Goodson played a leading role in the video-poker-related racketeering and bribery scheme. 

Vance agreed with the prosecutor and rejected Enzinna's arguments, noting that Goodson was convicted of bribing state lawmakers. 

"I think it's pretty serious to bribe some legislators," the judge said at the end of a brief hearing. "I'm going to deny your motion."Goodson was convicted in June 1997 on 12 total counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, interstate communications in aid of racketeering, and mail fraud. Cleveland, who was Goodson's longtime attorney, was found guilty on 10 counts of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy, aiding and abetting the filing of a false tax return, and mail fraud. Both were sentenced to 10 years and one month. 

Bankston was convicted on two counts of interstate communications in aid of racketeering and sentenced to 41 months. He started serving that term in November 1997. The racketeering-related charges involved what prosecutors called Bankston's "sham" rental of his Alabama beachfront condominium to Goodson. Goodson paid a $1,555 rental fee for the condo but did not stay there. Prosecutors called the payment a bribe. 

Goodson's daughter Maria, who ran her father's O'Aces video poker parlor in Slidell, was found guilty on one count of mail fraud and sentenced to six months in a halfway house and six months of home detention. Maria Goodson has completed that sentence. 

Last July, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals let all convictions in the case stand. 

In addition to sending them to prison, Vance ordered Fred Goodson and Cleveland to forfeit a combined $2.5 million in video poker profits to the federal government. Prosecutors claimed that Goodson and Cleveland, because of tax and other problems, disguised their actual ownership of Truck Stop Gaming Inc., which did business as O'Aces, by putting the business in Maria and Alex Goodson 's names. Alex is Fred Goodson's son.

Now does all this look like the actions of a disinterested accountant simply working "to settle a complex forfeiture case" for the government?

Then there's the fact that Handshoe spent time with indicted Louisiana State Senator B. B. "Sixty" Rayburn, a Goodson co-defendant, around the time of the trial. Here's what Mr. Handshoe says on Slabbed:

Would that mean Handshoe was at the criminal trial, too? Why?

Again, there's nothing yet suggesting Handshoe was a federal criminal target. But, too, Mr. Handshoe doesn't seem to be very forthcoming with a clear picture of his place within this huge corruption scandal, and his role as cross-border incorporator for the Goodsons between Louisiana and Mississippi. A reasonable observer looking at this fact pattern from the outside might say there was a mystery and a coverup underway, just like Handshoe has contrived a false coverup and conspiracy with regards to Leary, Perret, Abel, and Trout Point Lodge. Indeed, he's now accusing them of "a coordinated campaign to unmask and otherwise harass internet commenters sharing information on the political scandal in Jefferson Parish" alongside Frederick Heebe and Steve Theriot!

Why does he feel the need to pro-actively deny involvement with the New Orleans U. S. Attorney's Office? 

Handshoe published a "Rocheblave" comment quoting from the Baton Rouge Advocate:
Federal prosecutors say the scheme to infiltrate Louisiana’s video poker industry was the brainchild of New York’s powerful Gambino organized-crime family and the Genovese family. The reputed Marcello organized-crime family of New Orleans was a partner-in-crime of the Gambino and Genovese families, according to prosecutors.
“This was a New York-driven operation,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Salvador Perricone, one of three Worldwide/LRO prosecutors and a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s organized-crime strike force unit in New Orleans.
“This was truly a classic partnership between the upper echelon of the New Orleans mob and an active captain of the Gambino family, as well as an associate of the Genovese family,” added First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, the lead Worldwide/LRO prosecutor and the strike force’s former chief.
Likewise, he said, the Worldwide/LRO probe was a partnership between the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans and the Louisiana State Police.
Letten said the upper echelon of the Marcello family included alleged “boss” Anthony Carollo of Slidell; alleged “underboss” Frank Gagliano Sr. of Metairie; Sebastian “Buster” Salvatore of Metairie; Joseph Marcello Jr. of New Orleans, brother of the late reputed crime lord Carlos Marcello; and Joseph Gagliano of Kenner, son of Frank Gagliano Sr.
All five men were convicted in the case and sent to prison.
The alleged Gambino captain to whom Letten referred is Joseph Corozzo of New York City, and the alleged Genovese associate is Eugene Gilpin of New York City. They, too, were convicted and given prison terms.
This was the crime families’ financial arrangement: The New York families would split 40 percent of the profits, another 40 percent would go to the Marcello family, and the remaining 20 percent was reserved for Bolson and Tanfield, prosecutors said.
Perricone said the New York families recruited Bolson – a Tulane University alumnus – because his credentials would “lend legitimacy” to the operation. Tanfield reported directly to Gilpin, he said.
Together, Bolson, Tanfield and former New Orleans furniture store executive Aaron Mintz fooled state regulators into giving Worldwide a license to distribute video poker machines and LRO a license to own and operate video poker machines. Worldwide and LRO received those licenses in May 1992.
Federal prosecutors say Bolson and Tanfield hand-picked Mintz – a long-time friend of then-Gov. Edwin Edwards – to front as the companies’ majority stockholder because neither Bolson nor Tanfield, who was living in Florida at the time, met Louisiana residency requirements to hold video poker licenses.
Bolson, Tanfield and Mintz viewed the state gambling licenses as licenses to steal, prosecutors said, and they did just that.
In July 1992, the trio duped Bally Gaming Inc. of Las Vegas into naming Worldwide as the exclusive Louisiana distributor of Bally video poker machines. Louisiana law prohibited Bally from distributing its own machines.
The first video poker machines did not go on-line in Louisiana until July 1992.
Bally ultimately loaned Worldwide $3.5 million in cash and roughly $16 million worth of video poker machines.
Worldwide had hoped to sell 8,000 Bally machines in Louisiana, but only 2,100 Bally machines were in operation in the state when Worldwide collapsed.
Still, those machines took in more than $67 million between July 1, 1992, and May 31, 1993, when Worldwide filed for federal bankruptcy protection.
Prosecutors said they believe the organized-crime scheme netted some $16 million in illegal profits.
Letten said he believes the financial gain would have been “astronomical,” and the damage much worse – not only to the video poker industry but to the state’s entire gambling industry and related businesses – had federal authorities not stopped the scheme when they did.
“Had this venture been successful, it’s only a matter of our wildest speculation how bad the mob influence would have been in this town,” Letten said. “This would have thoroughly become, within five years, a mobbed-up town.”
Rafael Goyeneche, head of the private watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans, agrees.
“The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are owed a debt of gratitude by not only the city of New Orleans but also the entire state,” he said, adding that organized crime’s “tentacles” would have wrapped themselves around Louisiana’s entire gambling industry if the video poker scheme had gone undetected.
Was there a deal between Handshoe and the U.S. Attorney's Office? Was he a whistleblower, with knowledge of the mob involvement, bribery, and  fraud? What was his role as incorporator, officer, and accountant of Goodson companies?  Why the silence on these salient issues?

According to Handshoe's own standards, if knowing Aaron Broussard makes one guilty of money laundering, what does being the officer and/or accountant of a corporation involved in a RICO enterprise mean?

Documents are coming.

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