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.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The former star of Saturday Night Live throws in his 2 cents on the Big Oil lawsuit.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
New standards curb elective induction
CVS stops tobacco sales