It’s been nearly 1.5 years since The Independent first reported on the financial troubles of City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin, and although he found $1,900 earlier this month to pay off an ethics fine so he can seek re-election, he’s yet to make good on the more than $90,000 he owes various creditors.
But let’s be clear on that March 2010 cover story: It was about much more than a local politician falling behind on his financial obligations. The poor decisions Brandon Shelvin made that got him into so much legal hot water back then continue to dog his tenure and raise issues about his leadership capabilities. Our investigations into Shelvin’s history in the Lafayette business world revealed deeply troubling questions about his ethics, honesty and suitability for the public office he holds — an office he may never have even been legally qualified to seek. Read “The Problem with Brandon Shelvin” here.
Shelvin still owes four plaintiffs in civil lawsuits filed against him approximately $90,000. And they all have taken action to garnish his C-P wages. Castille Financial Services was first in line and began garnishing his C-P check in July 2010. Castille sued Shelvin in November 2009 for defaulting on an $8,300 personal loan he took out in August of that year. Once Castille is paid off — the amount is now about $10,000 according to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, which handles the garnishments — Whitney Bank is next in line. It’s owed $15,027. In September 2009, Whitney National Bank filed suit to collect $9,712, a loan Shelvin took out in May of that year but soon after defaulted on.
The largest amount owed — and the most significant because it is tied to Shelvin’s shady dealings at his former used car lot, ThriftyWay Car Sales — is $57,663 to IberiaBank.
When Shelvin owned the dealership, the warranty company he used, Atlanta-based EasyCare, was never forwarded money he collected from customers for extended warranties on approximately 20 vehicles he sold between July 2008 and February 2009, according to EasyCare’s records. Depending on factors like the vehicle’s make and model, mileage at time of purchase, term, coverage and deductible selected, the cost of the service contracts ranged from $700 to $1,800.
After several months of investigating his dealings in early 2010 and minutes before the story on his financial problems hit the press, this newspaper was advised by EasyCare via e-mail that Shelvin had made good on the contracts. EasyCare received a wire transfer from Shelvin on the morning of March 2, 2010, and was paid in full. At the time, it was a mystery how someone so deep in debt managed to get his hands on what likely amounted to anywhere from $20,000 to almost $40,000. But when IberiaBank, which had financed the majority of the car loans, sued him in December 2010 for defaulting on a $41,000 loan it made to him in January of that year, it became clear where he got the money. Interest, late fees, attorneys’ fees and court costs have since pushed the debt to $57,663.
Also in line to collect, via garnishment, from Shelvin is Hancock Bank. He now owes it $13,682. In October 2009, Hancock Bank sued Shelvin in state district court for $8,319 he owes on a 2007 $10,000 preferred line of credit and the following month got a judgment against him.
Garnishment orders were sent to the sheriff's office for both IberiaBank and Hancock this month.
The Independent’s March 2010 cover story noted that the state was already garnishing Shelvin’s salary for child support. In 2002 the state increased his child support to $608 a month, plus a 5 percent administrative fee, and issued an immediate Income Assignment Order. That means each month $638 comes out of his city-parish council pay to support his daughter from a prior relationship. That’s about 30 percent of his $25,480 annual council salary. (A public records request made Monday to city-parish government for information on whether the state garnishment for child support was still active was not filled by press time Tuesday.)
It is widely known that Shelvin also earns, or at one time earned, money as a salesman for Mello Joy Coffee. But Danette Gary, a supervisor in the sheriff’s department’s civil division, says the only garnishments are against his C-P salary. No one who has won a judgment and order for garnishment has requested that any other wages be seized.
A voice mail message left on Shelvin’s cell phone was not immediately returned.