mercredi 20 février 2013

The Slabbed Nation Part 1(d): "unslabbed" Vandenweghe, Doug Handshoe, motive, means, and opportunity

"unslabbed" Vandenweghe has been a regular, though largely anonymous, fixture on Slabbed since slightly before the Jefferson Parish and River Birch scandals came to the fore of public consciousness. And, coincidentally, Slabbed has only targeted Jefferson Parish precisely since those scandals started to become public. How and why does a Mississippi blog on insurance matters so suddenly come to focus on Jefferson Parish, Louisiana corruption? That's about like a small town Mississippi accountant showing up liquidating the assets of a forfeit criminal RICO corporation in Baton Rouge bankruptcy court.

Is it any surprise Vandenweghe and Handshoe have particularly targeted topics directly relevant to Vandenweghe's "whistleblower" lawsuit under Louisiana state law, while also regularly attacking people like "the goatherders" (men previously referred to as "the girls") whose actions in legitimately fighting defamation from their home jurisdictions might interfere with Handshoe & Vandenweghe's plans and vendettas? 

What does Vandenweghe stand to gain if she wins the whistleblower claims? 
Louisiana RS 23:967
. . . the plaintiff may recover from the employer damages, reasonable attorney's fees, and court costs.

C...For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the definitions ascribed below. . . .
(2).."Damages" include compensatory damages, back pay, benefits, reinstatement, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs resulting from the reprisal.
Likewise, if Vandenweghe reported ethical violations to her supervisor or the Louisiana Ethics Board under RS 42:1169 she would be "entitled to receive any lost income and benefits for the period of any suspension, demotion, or dismissal."

On January 2, 2013, Handshoe published a post referring to why blogger "Ignatius Jeff Reilly" had purportedly just left to move to his own domain. (Trouble is, he very well might be Doug Handshoe as well). Handshoe writes on Slabbed of people invading the privacy of his commenters, including "unslabbed" Vandenweghe:
What he [Reilly] is taking about is Charles Leary of Trout Point Lodge swearing false affidavits in Canada for the purpose of invading the privacy of American internet commenters discussing the massive political corruption scandal in New Orleans on Slabbed when we were hosted on WordPress. According to the Concrete Busters lawsuit Leary, Perret and Danny Abel are working on behalf of Fred Heebe, the target of the massive Federal investigation to silence public discourse on the matter and retaliate against those blowing the whistle on the systemic corruption that plagues this area.
Mr. Handshoe apparently followed up by faxing a letter further accusing Leary of perjury and misleading the court to a Nova Scotia judge on February 6.  He just recently published the letter on Slabbed. There was a hearing involving scheduling for a copyright infringement lawsuit against Handshoe on February 7, and Mr. Handshoe must have thought this would be the judge presiding at that hearing. Nothing like trying to extra-judicially influence judges against the other side!

Yet again, there Mr. Handshoe goes falsely acusing Charles Leary of perjury, but this time he and his partners aren't purportedly working for Aaron Broussard, they're all working for Frederick Heebe. Amazing how that happens--the "goatherders" in Nova Scotia are somehow always connected to whatever is the scandal of the day in metro New Orleans.

Once again, there is Mr. Handshoe in his "good citizen" pose, fighting corruption and crime he ironically knows a lot about.

Yes, yet again there is Mr. Handshoe hypocritically railing on about "the privacy of American internet commenters."

Now, in this case, Handshoe has unproven and unfounded allegations in an actual lawsuit to refer to as "evidence," the "Concrete Busters lawsuit." Such a memorable name! He referenced Concrete Busters again in that letter to the Nova Scotia judge:
To the extent it has been alleged in a civil suit filed with the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana that Mssrs. Leary, Perret and Abel have been acting on behalf of organized crime figures in New Orleans, the impact of the of your courtroom being used in furtherance of a American organized crime conspiracy cannot be understated.
Indeed, Handshoe has made a lot of hay out of the civil claim captioned "Concrete Busters," and though Leary & Perret's own recent civil lawsuit accused him of conspiring with that lawsuit's attorney, Randall A. "Randy" Smith, Handshoe has publicly denied certain things:
I’d like to note that I have never spoken with Smith or communicated with him nor did I have any advance knowledge of the amended complaint Concrete Busters filed against River Birch which mentioned Trout Point Lodge and Cerro Coyote as Heebe co-conspirators and I have no problem saying that.
Let's examine those assertions.


It behooves anyone reading thus far to review the persons who keep popping up in research into Mr. Handshoe, Ms. Vandenweghe, and the little project named "Slabbed":
  • Defamation Defendant Doug K. Handshoe – corporate officer (Treasurer) with Fred H. Goodson in Slidell Motel, Inc. and other Goodson corporations in Mississippi and Louisiana starting in 1992 (the same year video poker became legal) – accountant for Goodson enterprises – incorporator of new Goodson company “Interstate Management” in Mississippi in 1997, after Fred Goodson's conviction
  • Fred H. Goodson – represented in federal bribery, money laundering, wire fraud and racketeering criminal trial by Michael Fawer, whose law partner was Randall A. Smith - convicted felon – prosecuted and sentenced in Louisiana by a team that included James B. Letten in 1997
  • Randall A. Smith – Michael Fawer's law partner since 1995 – attorney for Greg Meffert, who was cooperating with U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in New Orleans & Jefferson Parish corruption investigations – attorney for Waste Remediation of Plaquemines
  • Smith & Fawer, LLC – law firm for the Lauricella business interests, including but not limited to Waste Remediation of Plaquemines
  • Anne-Marie Vandenweghe – minister in Marion Lauricella's church – “Jane Doe” co-defendant of Doug Handshoe explicitly outed by him as "unslabbed" in September, 2012 – plaintiff in whistleblower lawsuit involving fraud in River Birch Landfill contract award – former Asst. Jefferson Parish Attorney in charge of Public Record Requests – self-proclaimed FBI informant – law school classmate of James Letten and Jan Maselli Mann – former gambling consultant - former wife of Ray Valdes
  • Marion Lauricella – first cousin of Hank Lauricella - former backroom gambling operator
  • Hank Lauricella – former Louisiana state senator implicated but never indicted in wide-ranging gambling/bribery investigation in which Fred Goodson was indicted and convicted – represented Harahan at the same time as Anne-Marie Vandenweghe reresented Harahan on Jefferson Parish Council - beneficial owner of Waste Remediation of Plaquemines
  • Waste Remediation of Plaquemines – plaintiff in civil RICO lawsuit against Frederick Heebe and River Birch Landfill
Now, Mr. Handshoe claims he didn't have "any advance knowledge of the amended complaint Concrete Busters filed."

What did that amended civil complaint allege? For one prominent thing, that there was a criminal racketeering conspiracy involving a multimillion dollar waste disposal RFP: "co-conspirators included numerous shell corporations and limited liability companies [LLCs] owned and/or controlled by the Defendants and/or their co-conspirators." Smith then listed more than 28 companies, including a lot of LLCs. Who was an alleged co-conspirator and alleged member of many of the LLCs? Of course: former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard. That amended complaint was filed with the court at 10:54 am on October 4, 2012.

Attorney Randy Smith knows a lot about racketeering and bribery. Among other things, he represented Greg Meffert and Frank Fradella, two persons involved in the alleged bribery scheme of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. As the Times-Picayune reported on June 26, 2012, in an article entitled "Mayor Ray Nagin implicated in new document charging Covington businessman":
Until Monday, Fradella had steadfastly maintained his innocence even as Meffert and other Nagin associates pleaded guilty to various white-collar crimes -- and even though Fradella also faced daunting securities-fraud charges in Dallas. Those charges could have carried more than $20 million in fines and scores of years in prison.
But presented with a chance to slash the charges against him in the Dallas and New Orleans cases down to two felonies, Fradella's attorney, Randy Smith, said his client would become "another Team USA volunteer" and plead guilty today at 10 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, "unless he changes his mind overnight."
Although "Public Official A" is not named, there is no confusion about his identity. The document describes him as an agent of the city of New Orleans from May 2002 through May 2010. That coincides with Nagin's tenure as mayor.
Asked whether the public official mentioned in the documents was Nagin, Smith declined to answer directly, saying only: "Let's put it this way. He served from May 2002 to May 2010. It's not my right to name him. But if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck."
(Wasn't it news about Meffert's plea deal that Handshoe says he was tipped off by "The Wino" about before it was made public?)

In early October, 2012, a federal judge in Mississippi was considering submissions from both sides in the $427,000 defamation judgment enforcement action against Handshoe. Handshoe had argued that a lot should turn on whether Handshoe could even remotely justify his multiple criminal allegations against "the goatherders" on Slabbed, including prominently their purported collusion with Aaron Broussard in a criminal enterprise involving bribery and money laundering. Handshoe stood to loose the $427,000 if he did not prevail. PACER shows that submissions to the judge had closed in late August, 2012.

On October 2--two days before Smith & Fawer filed the Concrete Busters amended complaint--Handshoe published a Tweet in response to another Twitter post quoting a twist on a particular and strangely familiar saying, and referring to Slabbed:

Now that's quite a coincidence! Ducks and LLCs. Wonder who Ponchartrain Pete is? Looks like maybe Handshoe wasn't really forthcoming when he said that about no prior knowledge of the Concrete Busters amended complaint.

Of course, there's more to tell.  

Magically, Mississippi resident Handshoe got his hands on the Concrete Busters/Waste Remediation complaint the same day it was filed in Louisiana state court. In fact, Handshoe "broke" the story at 4:41 pm with a scanned pdf of the entire amended complaint. Now, in the Louisiana courts, there is no system like PACER where you can instantly get scans of court filings online. So how did Handshoe get the Concrete Busters/Waste Remediation suit so fast? How did he know about it at all? Even the Times-Picayune didn't publish about it on until 6:23 pm that day, including its own scanned pdf file of the lawsuit. 

Handshoe's very proud of his cyber sleuthing capacities. Mr. Handshoe has a B.S. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi (1986) and wrote a thesis entitled “The drive to make comuters [i.e. computers] talk to each other : the micro-mainframe connection.” He says he's succesfully identified the U.S. Department of Justice and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police looking at his blog. He stated in February, 2013:
I aver that I have visitor logs that indicate Mr Leary and his husband Vaughn Perret were closely monitoring Slabbed in January, 2010 when the allegations involving their roles in Broussard’s criminal enterprise first surfaced in the local media.
So, Mr. Doug knows exactly who's who in the Slabbed audience. 

Where did the Times-Picayune get it's copy of the amended Concrete Busters/Lauricella lawsuit?

Let's take a look at Google results for the two pdf files: one published on Slabbed, and the other one Here's Google's take on the Slabbed pdf:

And here's what Google saw about's pdf:
Now that's funny--both titles are exactly identical! Maybe reporter Manuel Torres at the Times-Picayune was provided with a pdf copy of that lawsuit by some interested party promoting an agenda? That must just be a coincidence, no?

Here is how Google itself says it analyzes pdf file titles posted on the Internet:

The anchor text of links pointing to the Concrete Busters pdf file did not contain the word "Slabbed" on either or So, it must be that "title metadata within the file" said "Slabbed" for both the Slabbed pdf and the pdf. Hmmm.

Handshoe and Vandenweghe might indeed hope that wide distribution of the unfounded allegation that Leary, Perret, and Trout Point Lodge were criminal co-conspirators of Aaron Broussard might  influence influential persons making important decisions about Mr. Handshoe's fate . . . including people in courthouses.


"unslabbed" Vandenweghe's own federal lawsuit makes for interesting reading, as does the May, 2012, decision of Judge Barbier, especially when compared with anonymous comments published on Slabbed by viewfromhell, unslabbed, Whitmergate, and others in early 2010. Judge Barbier threw out the bulk of Vandenweghe's allegations on a motion to dismiss, including her defamation claim:
Finally, relying on the same technique utilized to escape dismissal of her other claims, Plaintiff mistakenly contends that her claim is not prescribed to the extent it is based upon her November 2, 2010 termination, which she characterizes as the “ultimate defamation to [her] reputation and character.” However, standing alone, the fact that Defendants terminated Plaintiff’s employment cannot be defamatory because this is conduct, and not words.
The judge dismissed Vandenweghe's defamation claim without prejudice, allowing Covington lawyer Mr. Truitt to re-plead defamation, however he never did so and let all such potential claims expire. Louisiana-licensed lawyer Mr. Truitt would then also end up representing Handshoe pro hac vice in Mississippi federal court to fight enforcement of that Canadian defamation judgment against Handshoe, a judgment in a lawsuit that also named his other client, "Jane Doe" Vandenweghe as a defendant. Only, no one but Handshoe & Vandenweghe knew Vandenweghe was "unslabbed" until Handshoe admitted it online in September, 2012, after submissions to that Mississippi federal judge had closed. Mr. Truitt certainly never let the Mississippi federal court know that he also represented Handshoe's Jane Doe co-defendant. Must all just be a big coincidence, no?

In his decision, Judge Barbier had dismissed all claims except the Louisiana state law whistleblower claim. So proving "reprisal" by Jefferson Parish officials based on her alleged whistleblowing activities remained a prime motivator for Ms. Vandenweghe. That whistleblowing included the River Birch RFP. 

Despite the dismissal, and the missed chance to continue her defamation claims, Vandenweghe's allegations would then magically appear again on October 4, 2012, in that amended Concrete Busters lawsuit about that pesky River Birch waste disposal contract brought by the Lauricella's company Waste Remediation of Plaquemines against River Birch, filed by attorney Randy Smith of Smith & Fawer, LLC. Smith explicitly "adopted and alleged" the Vandenweghe allegations--including ones by then already long dismissed by the federal judge in Louisiana--reviving them as part of far-ranging conspiracy allegations in the Lauricella/Waste Remediation lawsuit that also mentioned Trout Point Lodge and another Abel, Leary, & Perret business as criminal co-conspirators of Aaron Broussard in racketerring.

Wow! Now that's quite a coincidence!

Is this just a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend?" 


Probably not.

Attorney Smith was part of a triumvirate of lawyers who in 1991 were sanctioned by a federal judge over a RICO suit. The Baton Rouge Advocate reported:
U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola has ordered three New Orleans attorneys and their former client to pay $323,532 in sanctions for filing and prosecuting a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations suit against a local hospital.
The attorneys -- Phillip A. Wittman, John M. Landis and Randall A. Smith of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann & Hutchinson -- and their former client, Dr. Prentiss E. Smith, "have openly and flagrantly abused the judicial system," Polozola wrote in an opinion signed on Tuesday.
The attorneys and Smith made "scandalous, unjustified and unsupported allegations in their pleadings, abusing the discovery procedures of the federal court and proceeding in an improper and frivolous manner with callous disregard of the judicial system," the judge wrote. "Their actions must and shall come to an abrupt end."
Campbell Hutchinson, chairman of Stone Pigman's management committee, said Tuesday his firm will immediately appeal the judge's decision to issue sanctions to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.
"We strongly disagree with Judge Polozola's ruling in the case," Hutchinson said. "We do not believe that sanctions were warranted in this case, and we believe when it is reviewed upon appeal, it will be reversed."
Polozola also ordered that a fourth Stone Pigman attorney, Marc D. Winsberg, attend a "continuing legal education program on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Practice." He was also ordered to attend five Inns of Court meetings, which are regular education sessions conducted by the court.
The judge also ordered each of the four attorneys be given a public reprimand.
The suit was filed in 1987 when Smith lost his staff privileges at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center because the number of his patients who had died was "unacceptably high," according to court documents.
Lawyers for the hospital and other defendants had asked Polozola to sanction Smith and his attorneys in the amount of $375,419, the cost of the defendant attorneys' defense against the lawsuit.
In his 42-page opinion that includes 75 footnotes, Polozola said the "impermissible, misleading and half-truth pleadings, briefs and oral arguments made by the plaintiff and his counsel cannot be tolerated.
"The court shall not allow a party to use hired guns to make allegations of fraud and criminal activity on the basis of speculation and implausible inferences which are not only inconsistent with the facts but could or should have been discovered from the slightest investigation of the facts," the judge wrote.
However, Hutchinson said his firm agreed to file the suit only after investigating Smith's claims.
"Before we filed the lawsuit, we investigated the facts," said Hutchinson, who pointed out that Smith still is pursuing a state lawsuit against the hospital.
Polozola wrote that he "must question the real purpose for which the plaintiff filed this RICO suit. The evidence suggests it was to be used as a vehicle to develop facts for an antitrust suit or for use in the state court suit."
The district court decision was appealed and reversed, though the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal noted that "we doubt the merits of Smith's suit" and concluded its decision with a "continued warning regarding baseless RICO claims" that "should not be taken lightly."

This would not be Smith's last encounter with RICO and controversy. In HENDRICK v. ABC INS. CO. 760 So.2d 650 (2000), the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal was reviewing a legal malpractice judgment against, among others, Randall A. Smith for $2,867,547.00, plus interest. The plaintiff, named Hendrick, "testified that he had numerous meetings and telephone conversations with attorneys of Stone, Pigman. Specifically, he had various conversations with Randall Smith ("Mr. Smith"), the Stone, Pigman associate who did a large portion of the work associated with the Hendrick matter."

"Mr. Smith," according to the court, was "the attorney who did much of the initial work and legal research after Stone, Pigman was retained as special counsel." Smith was the attorney charged with "determining the facts of the case and doing some research on possible RICO and fraud claims."
The decision continued:
At trial, Mr. Triche was asked his opinion as to whether Stone, Pigman's handling of the matters at issue met the standard of care required of counsel. According to Mr. Triche,
... the investigation and the inquiry in the earlier of the case fell below the standard of care.... [I]t's a lawyer's obligation to review the antecedent proceedings that bring the case to him. All of this case dealt with transactions, fraud, or otherwise that led to the sale of Mr. Hendrick's stock in February of 1985, all of that. Somebody says they saw—somebody in the law firm says they saw a minute entry. I think Mr. Randy Smith says I thought the minute entry was the judgment, that's not appropriate. Mr. Landis—excuse me. Mr. Smith should have sought out the judgment in the bankruptcy court, should have reviewed it with his associations that were reviewing that file, and should have been alerted that they had a time bar problem, and that should have been alerted to them in the early stages of the case. I saw the testimony that well, we looked at—in the deposition— well, we looked at the minute entry. Mr. Smith says I thought the minute entry was a judgment, that's elementary. A minute entry is not a judgment.
The Court of Appeal ultimately affirmed the plaintiff's victory, "failure to conform to the requisite standard of care required for competent attorneys." However, damages as apportioned to Stone Pigman were reduced substantially.
Thus Randall A. Smith knew all about sensational RICO allegations when Smith & Fawer, LLC filed suit on behalf of the Lauricella's company, included a laundry list of alleged co-conspirators in criminal corruption without making them parties, and added Anne-Marie Vandenweghe's allegations to his amended claim.

The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in the Hendrick case, but based on prescription. Mr. Smith did not stay at Stone, Pigman for long--he was in business with Fred Goodson's lawyer Michal Fawer in 1995, one year before he started to represent "Sixty" Rayburn and Handshoe's fellow corporate officer in the Slidell Motel gaming operation, Fred H. Goodson 

To sum up, both Handshoe and Vandenweghe had apparent social links to the Concrete Busters lawsuit. Vandenweghe through the Lauricellas, and Handshoe through Smith & Fawer. Everybody had links to the gambling/bribery/mafia investigations that snagged Handshoe's business partner Fred H. Goodson and former Senator Larry Bankston in the late 1990s. (Vandenweghe did legal work for gambling interest Grand Palais in 1994, while serving as a Councilwoman and while her law license was suspended. William Broadhurst was indicted for skimming money from Grand Palais project River City, as part of the broader investigation. He was later acquitted.) This was the self-same investigation in which Senator Hank Lauricella's name also popped up, after which he did not seek re-election. 

Handshoe denies advance knowledge of the Concrete Busters/Lauricella lawsuit, but there's pretty strong evidence to suggest otherwise.  Both Handshoe and Vandenweghe would have been quite well motivated to defeat the $427,000 defamation judgment against Handshoe, as they were actually co-defendants and alleged "joint concurrent tortfeasors." By placing false and completely unfounded allegations of criminal conspiracy involving Trout Point Lodge and Aaron Broussard inside privileged civil RICO pleadings, and then publicizing those allegations as extensively as possible, including getting the suit published on, Handshoe and Vandenweghe might even have more than hoped that certain people they knew were looking at the blog Slabbed might just take notice . . . 

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