Local Senator says Attorney General is wrong!
Opinion gives Bossier DA green light to sell vehicles at private dealer only auction
Louisiana State Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell issued an opinion for Bossier-Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin giving him the green light to sell vehicles seized in narcotics investigations at private ‘dealer only’ auctions, however local Sen. Robert Adley says Caldwell is dead wrong.
Marvin’s first assistant district attorney Lane Pittard requested a ruling from the Attorney General’s Office asking whether or not the District Attorney’s Office could sell their seized vehicles at a private dealer only auction instead of selling the vehicles at a public auction.
The ruling comes on the heels of investigations launched by both the Federal Bureau of Investigations as well as the Louisiana Legislative Auditors into the selling and storage of seized vehicles by the Bossier-Webster Parish District Attorney’s Office.
In 2012 the Bossier-Webster District Attorney’s office began selling seized vehicles at a dealer only auction. Some of those vehicles were purchased by area dealers and brought to a public auction where the dealers would sometimes double their money. In all of the cases, the dealers profited substantially by selling the seized items at the public auctions.
An inquiry made by The Inquisitor into the public records of the Bossier-Webster District Attorney’s Office revealed that storage fees were being paid to a local car dealer in Bossier City that was located on property owned by Marvin’s chief investigator Frank “Buddy” Mondello.
It didn’t take long for agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations as well as auditors with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office to launch their own investigations into dealings within the Bossier-Webster District Attorney’s Office.
Despite the fact that the district attorney’s office, the court system, and the local law enforcement agencies who seized the vehicles stand to gain substantially more revenue from selling the vehicles at public auctions rather than a dealer only auction, Marvin has hung his hat on a Louisiana law that stipulates that the district attorney is authorized to sell the seized vehicles at “a public sale or an auction sale conducted by a licensed auctioneer…”
Due to the fact that the word “public” is not in front of the word “auction” in the law, both Marvin and now Caldwell interpret the law in such a manner that would allow an auctioneer to hold private auction sales among colleagues and business associates where vehicles would be sold to the highest bidder among the private group of bidders.
Senator Adley says the ruling is ridiculous and clearly a mistake.
“Clearly the Attorney General is wrong on this,” said Adley. “I read the law. Not only me, but everybody else has read it and sees it the way that I do.”
Adley went on to say, “Attorneys tend to stick together.”
Adley was apparently referring to the fact that Caldwell and Marvin are close political friends and are often holding public functions together.
According to Adley, he attempted to clarify the law in the last legislative session however staff members advised him that the law already required seized vehicles to be sold at public auctions. He said Wednesday that he plans on addressing the issue at this year’s legislative session if possible.
Danny Lawler, a licensed auctioneer with Lawler Auction Company who conducted about 18 auctions in 2012, and is the publisher of The Inquisitor, was appalled at the ruling of the attorney general.
Lawler said, “Can you imagine what would happen if I were to set up a club consisting of my friends and business colleagues, and then held an auction at my private club to sell off publicly owned assets? The opinion by Mr. Caldwell is clearly laughable and certainly should raise eyebrows as to his integrity.”