Lafayette’s Henry Mouton appears to have reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on his multiple charges of conspiracy, bribery and lying to federal investigators. According to the latest Times-Picayune report, Mouton will appear in court June 1 for a second arraignment, a move that likely means a change in his initial plea of not guilty.
Mouton, 54, is accused of using his position as a Wildlife and Fisheries commissioner to lobby against the old Gentilly Landfill in New Orleans that reopened after Hurricane Katrina — and receiving $463,970 from a rival landfill owner in return. The rival landfill owner was not identified in the indictment, but court documents and media reports immediately linked Mouton to River Birch landfill owner Fred Heebe, one of several parties under federal investigation for possible ties to government corruption in Jefferson Parish.
The indictment against Mouton claims he used his position as a commissioner to go far beyond writing to congressman about the landfill, also reportedly sending letters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and the FBI.
His plea change and potential plea agreement confirms what many reports have speculated since his indictment was announced Feb. 25: Mouton was a mere casualty of the widespread investigation into Jefferson Parish and the feds are using him to roll over on others involved.
A River Birch public relations consultant later told media outlets that Mouton had been on retainer for one of Heebe’s other companies for years before being appointed by former Gov. Mike Foster to the commission — and even after his term with the commission ended.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on any potential deals that may have been struck. Mouton’s attorney, well-known Baton Rouge lawyer Mary Olive Pierson, was unavailable for comment when contacted by The T-P Thursday.
Read more on Mouton’s charges and background here and here.
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
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.