The Independent Weekly is fighting an attempt by a former Stanford Group Company vice president, Tiffany Angelle, to use legal means to obstruct the paper’s coverage of the Stanford scandal’s effect on the Lafayette community. In May Angelle filed a defamation suit against the paper in connection with our reporting of the Stanford debacle, which the SEC characterizes as “a fraud of shocking magnitude that has spread its tentacles throughout the world.” Last week flamboyant financier R. Allen Stanford and six others were indicted in the case, an alleged $8 billion investment scam involving so-called CDs purchased through Stanford International Bank.
Stanford is charged with fraud, conspiracy and obstruction in the case. Just days before that, the Louisiana attorney general’s office announced that it is moving forward with a formal criminal investigation in the state. David Caldwell, head of the public corruption and special prosecutions unit, has since made it clear the federal investigation is separate from his, saying the feds are going after the “whales” but he is after the “sharks” responsible for the hundreds of hard-working Louisianans who have lost millions — among whom are people who saw their life savings disappear overnight. Some of those people are from right here in Lafayette, your neighbors, your friends.
This is clearly a matter of extreme public interest, and The Independent Weekly believes there are strong measures in place to protect its free speech rights, as well as the rights of the Stanford victims and others with knowledge of the company’s local operations. In 1999, the Louisiana Legislature declared that there had been a disturbing increase in lawsuits brought primarily to chill the valid exercise of the constitutional right of freedom of speech. The Legislature also asserted that it is in the public interest to encourage continued participation in matters of public significance, and that this participation should not be chilled through abuse of the judicial process. To that end, the Legislature enacted the Special Motion to Strike, also called the Louisiana Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, and declared that it be construed broadly. Louisiana is one of several states in the U.S., along with Canada, Australia and Europe, to enact this type of legislation to quickly and effectively dismiss SLAPPs — and allow the media to uncover the truth.
Last week’s federal charges allege Stanford and his co-conspirators were part of a scheme to defraud investors. Because the alleged fraud was perpetrated on investors across the globe, the story has generated thousands of television, online and newspapers investigative pieces; since February when federal agents raided Stanford’s offices, news outlets have tracked the story daily. Some of those stories and several lawsuits allege negligence on the part of the financial advisers, including Angelle, who has also been named a relief defendant in the court-appointed receiver’s suit. The receiver is seeking to recover almost $700,000 in commissions she collected over a two-year period on the sale of the bogus CDs alone. The CDs were so lucrative for the advisers that the incentive program, which included high commissions and lavish bonuses, was known among some Stanford advisers as “bank crack.”
Additionally, in court documents in Texas, two former Stanford advisers maintain the company encouraged and in some cases mandated the use of unethical and illegal practices in promoting and selling the CDs. The former employees also allege the company’s advisers did not report their clients’ interest in foreign bank accounts to the Treasury Department as is required by law and claim that in 2006 Stanford management ordered the removal and/or destruction of significant amounts of information in clients’ files and purged electronic data from the company’s computers when it learned of an ongoing SEC investigation into Sanford’s CD sales practices.
Just how much did Tiffany Angelle, who was with Stanford Group Company at the time, know? How much should she have known? Was she aware of any alleged attempts to hide information from the SEC? Those who handed their millions over to her would like to know.
We intend to give them answers.
A hearing on the Special Motion to Strike in the matter of Tiffany Angelle vs. The Independent Weekly is scheduled for Monday, June 29, in state district court in Lafayette.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
NJ lady beats Donald Trump; Israel calls up more troops; border hearings accelerated and more national and international news for Thursday, July 31, 2014.
State Rep. Lenar Whitney — one of a handful of Republican candidates vying for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional district — has been described by Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman as one of the most “frightening or fact-averse candidate[s]” he’s ever met following her reaction to an interview last week.
Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools.
An investigation into the last-minute passage of a pension hike for the state police superintendent continues, despite Col. Mike Edmonson's decision not to accept the increase.
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
The investigation and potential prosecution of the man charged in the recent hit-and-run death of a Youngsville cyclist won’t happen overnight, according to local law enforcement officials.
Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
It wouldn’t be a first, however, as the Chamber has thrown money behind Landrieu before.
The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
The world is a politically tense place these days with hot spots ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. In Louisiana and Mississippi, where the political chessboard tends to be a lot less threatening and at times entertaining, this election season is living up to expectations.
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.