The gist: City-parish attorneys kicked the findings of a forensic auditor’s report into suspect transactions between LUS and LUS Fiber to the FBI, according to email correspondence with council members. Based on the same evidence in that forensic audit report, and other documents previously handed over, the district attorney declined to prosecute crimes alleged by the Guillory administration.
The administration isn’t yet backing down on its pursuit of retired LUS Director Terry Huval. Responding to a Sept. 16 email from City Councilwoman Liz Hebert — who called down the administration’s public efforts to prosecute Huval and other LUS employees after District Attorney Keith Stutes found insufficient evidence of malfeasance or other crimes (noting the statute of limitations has long since expired, anyway) — City-Parish Attorney Greg Logan told members of both councils that he sent the forensic review of LUS to the FBI on Aug. 12, the day it was released. Logan also indicated in communications to Stutes that LCG would pursue civil litigation against Huval and telecom consultant Doug Dawson.
Logan notes in his email to council members — on which he copied this reporter — that the federal statute of limitations has likely long expired, such that the U.S. Department of Justice itself could not prosecute a case. The administration’s alleged “scheme” to funnel millions in illegal subsidies to LUS Fiber and associated coverup are said to have occurred around 2011. The criminal statutes for state crimes referenced by Stutes have a five-year window for prosecution.
“I will reach out to the Resident Agent in Charge at the FBI and see if he will give me an update on the status of the review by the Department of Justice,” Logan writes in Thursday’s email, to which he attached transmittal messages to the FBI, Louisiana Public Service Commission and the legislative auditor.
Meanwhile, Hebert is demanding answers for what she characterized as a “witch hunt.” In Wednesday’s email to Logan and council members, Hebert questions why Stutes’ first letter, dated Aug. 10, was withheld from the council. In that letter, the district attorney insists that what LCG alleged was a criminal scheme to cover up “illegal” subsidies of LUS Fiber is exclusively a matter for the PSC, which has limited oversight of Fiber. “If my dates are correct, you already had the first letter from DA Keith Stutes (August 10th) before the Auditor presented to the council on August 18th,” Hebert writes. “The night of the Auditor report, I specifically requested that the City Council receive an opinion from the DA as soon as one was received and even followed up the request with an email,” she continues. (Her account is corroborated by an Aug. 22 email obtained by The Current.) “Why was the DA’s letter not discussed at the meeting?” Hebert asks Logan in Wednesday’s email.
Instead of sending the DA’s Aug. 10 response declining prosecution, Hebert says, Logan only forwarded her an Aug. 21 letter from Stutes asking for specific information ahead of the possible convening of a grand jury in light of potential new evidence contained in the forensic audit.
Logan determined the Aug. 10 letter wasn’t “relevant.” The first letter from Stutes, which strongly admonishes the administration for accusing Huval and other unnamed employees of crimes without evidence “crossed in the mail with the report from the Independent Forensic Review by CRI … [and] failed to address any of the evidence found and reported by CRI,” Logan says in his emailed reply. The CRI report was in large part based on evidence produced by LCG that was only later delivered to Stutes. “I did not take it to be relevant,” Logan writes. “I believe the letter I sent you was relevant because Mr. Stutes was requesting information after his review of the CRI report.”
City Councilman Glenn Lazard says he too inquired with Logan in late August about whether he had received any correspondence from Stutes. Lazard says the Aug. 10 letter was not turned over.
“I was very disappointed we weren’t notified the letter had been received,” Lazard tells The Current. “I made a specific request to be kept informed of all developments.”
Council members are taken aback by possible involvement of feds. “I had no idea about submissions to the FBI,” Lazard says, confirming he learned of potential federal involvement in Logan’s Thursday email. “I agree with the district attorney’s finding that this was probably more a matter for the PSC,” adds Lazard, himself an attorney who has done criminal defense work.
Evan Patterson, the FBI’s senior supervisory resident agent in Lafayette, would not comment on whether an investigation is underway, a standard response for federal law enforcement.
Neither Logan nor Guillory has commented publicly on Stutes’ letters. Logan told The Current in a text message Wednesday that he needed “to read and research a couple things to be able to provide you a meaningful response.” He told council members in yesterday’s email that he’d been able to “lightly review” the second letter, dated Sept. 8. “It became clear that a detailed review of that letter and the report of CSI would be necessary in preparing a response. That review is in process,” Logan writes.
Friday afternoon, Logan apologized for the delay in responding to The Current’s questions, saying he plans to look over Stutes’ latest letter this weekend and will reach out to the department of justice early next week for an update.
“I still haven’t spoken with the MP about it,” Guillory’s spokesman, Jamie Angelle, wrote early Friday afternoon in response to requests for comment on Stutes’ letters and Councilwoman Hebert’s email. “We were tied down with budget.”
Stutes says he won’t comment beyond his letters. “Everything that they submitted to me, I reviewed. I didn’t ignore anything,” the outgoing district attorney says. “I conducted the investigation I felt was appropriate and necessary. Unless something new is presented to me, my opinion will not change.”
Hebert wants a public apology from the administration. “In closing, I believe that LCG owes Mr. Huval [and the other four unnamed employees who were put on administrative leave] a public apology,” she writes in her Wednesday email. “This man’s reputation has been ruined on what appears to be a witch hunt.”