Banks line up to garnish the C-P councilman’s wages, begging the question about whether he is fit to serve.
By Leslie Turk
It’s been nearly 1.5 years since ABiz’s sister publication, The Independent, first reported on the financial troubles of City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin, and although he found $1,900 in early August 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.
The Independent’s March 2010 cover story, “The Problem With Brandon Shelvin,” 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. The paper’s 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, as was noted in the story.
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 $240 per month from 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.
The largest amount owed — and the most significant because it may be 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, 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, The Independent 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. It now appears that he may have used money from an IberiaBank loan to pay off some or all of that debt. In January 2010, the bank — which had financed the majority of the car loans and may have been put in the awkward position of protecting its own interests — executed a $41,000 loan to Shelvin (an amount that included a rollover of $21,000 from a previous loan dated November 2009). In December IberiaBank sued him for defaulting on the loan. 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 about $14,000. Garnishment orders were sent to the sheriff’s office for both IberiaBank and Hancock in August of this year.
The state has already been garnishing Shelvin’s salary for child support. Each month $640 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.
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 yet to seize any other wages.
Shelvin, who is now enrolled at UL Lafayette, has refused repeated requests to comment on these matters — as have the banks that sued him.