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 Lafayette Parish School Board's mishandling of its insurance selection process over the last two years has caught the attention of the FBI.
Kids under 18 will have to pursue skin cancer the old-fashioned way.
Lafayette Parish School Board member Kermit Bouillion says he will defend his District 5 seat in the upcoming election.
The Louisiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity sent the pledge request to all 144 lawmakers in February.
The 5-foot-10, 203-pound former second-round pick has gone to three Pro Bowls in his five seasons.
The state argues that if they identify how they're getting the drugs, they could have trouble buying more because companies don't want to be known as helping in an execution.
The enrollment period ends this month.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, March 12, 2014:
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
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.