Eric Cloutier, the former Icegator and downtown bar owner who pleaded no contest in 2009 to tax evasion, money laundering and a slew of other charges, is suing the owners of Karma for hundreds of thousands of dollars he says they owe him for selling his share of the downtown nightclub.
Cloutier sold his shares in Marley’s and Karma a few months after he was arrested in February 2009 for manipulating his cash registers to conceal sales, illegally obtaining alcohol permits by providing false information and, among other charges, filing false tax returns. In return for his best interest guilty plea, in which Cloutier did not admit guilt, he was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in prosecution costs to the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
Now Cloutier is taking formal action against Karma owners Robert Oja, Mike Parich Jr. and Dennis Talbot in an attempt to recoup more than $330,000 he says he is owed by the ownership group.
“When I sold the business they didn’t have the money to buy me out, so they were just paying me monthly,” Cloutier says. “They’re all behind on their notes, and I tried for over a year to get the money. I didn’t want to [file lawsuits], but what can I do? The business is making money, but they’re not paying me. It was really my last resort.”
Cloutier claims in the lawsuits that Oja owes more than $115,000 for his share of the buyout and interest fees outlined in the contract. According to Cloutier’s court filings, Parich owes roughly $73,000 on his share and Talbot owes almost $142,000. Oja has only paid $387 since signing the promissory note in June 2009, according to court documents.
None of the three owners targeted in the lawsuit could be reached for comment this morning.
The former Lafayette hockey standout says he still lives in Lafayette and has been working as a consultant for an unnamed Baton Rouge firm and other unnamed clients to develop nightlife establishments in Baton Rouge. As part of his probation, Cloutier is barred from having an alcohol permit until his probation is complete in the next few months. When he clears his legal hurdles, Cloutier says he wants to open a night club or bar in downtown Baton Rouge.
“I don’t really want to do business in Lafayette to be quite honest,” Cloutier says. “Nothing has changed in downtown Lafayette; there’s no reason for me to do business over there.”
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.