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.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand: