- Elliott Stonecipher
Sunday, September 24, 2017 … 11:00 A.M.
It has been almost a year since the filing of a lawsuit in Caddo District Court which may yet, and against all odds, unravel and expose a decade-plus of City Hall corruption.
At first, that lawsuit – Caddo Court Docket # 596,181-A, filed October 14, 2016 – seemed to be “only” about water and sewer service under-billing which had cost taxpayers $1,000,000.
Instead, the lawsuit fisticuffs over the past year have exposed a specific method by which involved players may enrich themselves and attached public officials.
In any case, our U. S. Attorney’s Office is officially in the mix.
On October 25, 2016, eleven days after the lawsuit was filed, Assistant U. S. Attorney Cytheria Jernigan wrote Mayor Ollie Tyler to “formally request” the preservation of all related City Hall documents.
The letter specifies “documents and records” back to January 1, 2015, involving a list of ten City Hall officials, including Mayor Tyler, City Attorney William Bradford and Chief Administrative Officer Brian Crawford.
The owners of the Shreveport business which filed the original lawsuit, Sand Beach Properties, LLC, are long-time political figures Scott Pernici and Michael Wainwright.
Their suit exposed the subject water service under-billing, in return for which Pernici and Wainwright are seeking compensation the City says may total nearly $2,000,000.
Mayor Tyler’s response to the suit accused Sand Beach of criminal behavior, in turn triggering a separate Pernici and Wainwright defamation suit.
In May, that suit was tossed by Caddo District Judge Craig Marcotte, and last week he ruled that Pernici and Wainwright must pay $20,498 in attorney fees and costs.
Along the way, locals have been treated to details of an incompetent and collapsing city water and sewer billing services, and, as the smoke clears, apparent City Hall corruption.
The legal discovery process at the heart of the lawsuit quickly spotlighted Lynn Braggs, the top political and campaign operative for both ex-Mayor Cedric Glover and Mayor Tyler.
In his deposition by Sand Beach attorney Jerry Harper on December 21, 2016, Braggs confirmed as fact what had for years been only an allegation against himself and Glover.
The March 20, 2017, reporting on that deposition by Vickie Welborn and Shon Gables of KTBS
News is more than merely notable (SEE link below), including these key parts:
“Lynn Braggs, the campaign manager for former Mayor Cedric Glover and the campaign coordinator for current Mayor Ollie Tyler, testified he was on the payroll of Triton Water Technologies of Hammond, which during the Glover administration got a $7.4 million contract to provide water meters to the city.
A Triton subcontractor, Systems & Software, was brought in to set up the technology used in the water and sewer billing system, a nearly $3 million contract, documents show.
Braggs testified he helped broker a deal between the city and Triton. Braggs testified he used this influence to help minority companies get business at City Hall. He did not reveal how much he made from the water contract, but said he received a salary plus a bonus from Triton.”
“They (Triton) paid me a salary every month,” Braggs testified.
“Anything else? Did you receive any bonuses or commission?” Pernici’s lawyer asked.
“Yeah, I got bonuses,” Braggs replied.
“How were your bonuses calculated?” the attorney asked.
“I can’t remember,” Braggs replied.
Multiple sources confirm to me that this payroll arrangement was not a one-off occurrence. The process of learning how far it reaches – and to whom – is well underway …
… and our best chance in many years to actually attack rampant City Hall corruption.
… To be continued …
March 20, 2017 KTBS News, Vickie Welborn and Shon Gables: