The American Way

There’s been a huge case brewing in New Orleans involving the River Birch Landfill. If you’re shocked to hear that “waste management” could be a lucrative source of graft for grifters, you haven’t watched The Sopranos 97 times like I have. Tony Soprano always told everyone he was in “waste management” and so is local lawyer Fred Heebe who was Malaka Of The Week on 3/15/2012.

The River Birch Landfill case seems to have finally and definitively collapsed today. Charges against two of the primary shitbirds were dismissed with prejudice, which means they cannot be re-filed. These were the alleged bribers but the primary bribee, a former state employee named Henry Mouton who took a cool $463K in bribes, copped a plea some time ago. This is the American Way I alluded to in the post title: the bribees take it in the neck and the big fish swim away. In this instance, it’s at least partially due to the “commenting scandal” that I wrote about in the MOW post. While I’m self quoting, here’s a self-serving one from a Humid City post on the resignation of then US Attorney Jim Letten:

I haven’t posted here in a while but when someone gets their
comeuppance, the old schadenfreude kicks in and I gotta post. It did
yesterday: US Attorney Jim Lettenpacked
up his mustache, drum kit, and gynormous ego and resigned from his
post. He, of course, held a melodramatic presser, which had all the goo
-goos, wingers, and media types weeping and wailing over his departure.

Here’s the deal. Letten did a good job for many years but his office
began to display the arrogance and cockiness that comes naturally to
lawyers. The whole commenting thing was an enormous ethical blunder, and
there are indications that Letten was wearing ethical blinders when it
comes to his number 2 and personal friend, Jan Mann.

It is unclear what exactly Letten knew and when he knew it but while
he threw Sal Perricone to the wolves, it looks as if he protected Jan
Mann until a month ago. Their commenting frenzy damaged the office’s
credibility and may have compromised a string of cases including, most
ominously, the Danziger Bridge convictions. Mind you, it’s hard to
reverse a criminal prosecution but Letten’s ethical laxness has made
that a possibility and has already led to a Justice Department
investigation. Defense attorneys are dancing in the streets in
anticipation of a windfall of business. I hope Buddy Lemann’s toup
doesn’t fall off…

Jim Letten’s major failing is that he believes his own press clippings
and the fulsome praise he has received over the years. He came to
believe that he was indispensable because a sycophantic press corps told
him that he was. Nobody is indispensable. To believe otherwise is
hubris plain and simple.

If the commenting mishigas played a large part in the case against Heebe failing, it makes me feel vaguely old testamenty and prophety because I predicted that might happen. I’m not a happy prophet because the waste management entrepreneurs probably deserve a stretch in Club Fed but at least it didn’t poison the case against former Mayor Nagin. Yet.

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