“I basically have 14 boxes of papers dumped on me, so I start trying to understand everything as fast as I can about the case,” Stanford recalls. Shortly after an arraignment hearing where Buswell pleads not guilty, Stanford says holes in the federal government’s case began to emerge. “I realize Buswell is being set up as a fall guy for these broker/dealers and several Lafayette investors who have very strong connections,” Stanford tells IND Monthly. “I then bring this up with the U.S. Attorney because one of these dealers — Advanced Blast — is still doing it, so I ask why aren’t you going after them. The prosecutor’s answer: ‘We’re just interested in the local bad guy.’”
Sometime between October and November is when Stanford says he first hears about synthetic cannabinoids, which is at the heart of the government’s case against him. “This is when I start learning about these new chemicals coming out, and how there’s not even a study conducted to prove these chemicals are bad, but the government, instead of trying to understand, just starts trying to regulate these compounds that are being made by chemists. Before, I wasn’t aware there was even this industry. And as a lawyer, I see a whole new area of criminal litigation that would be coming out of this.”
Hoping to seize the opportunity, Stanford starts researching the issue, and eventually meets Dan Francis, the founder of a pro-synthetic cannabinoids group in California that Stanford claims is attempting to work in unison with legislators and law enforcement agencies.
On Nov. 28, Stanford opened a Louisiana version of the group, called RCA, or the Retail Compliance Association.
“The Louisiana version of RCA was incorporated but never got off the ground,” says Stanford. “The idea was to work [together] with our law enforcement and legislators.”
About a week later, on Dec. 7, Stanford attends a meeting of Curious Goods franchise owners and employees at Buswell’s house. He maintains that he spoke about five minutes, advising the group that if contacted by law enforcement to immediately get in touch with a lawyer. The next day, the feds launch an all-out raid of every Curious Goods retail store, arresting employees, and, eventually, Buswell. On Dec. 9, U.S. Magistrate Patrick Hanna sends Buswell back to jail for violating the terms of his release in the federal fraud case.
According to Stanford, here’s where the story gets interesting.
In addition to the securities fraud case, Buswell now faced state charges for distributing a controlled dangerous substance called “Mr. Miyagi” — a form of synthetic marijuana — and for filing a false public record against two witnesses in the federal case.
Stanford says that prompted two federal DEA agents to pay Buswell a visit at the Iberia Parish Jail on April 5, claiming they were serving him with a state Civil Forfeiture document.
“Why would two federal agents need to go to Iberia Parish Jail to serve Buswell with a state document? The DEA didn’t need to serve Buswell. They were trying to get him talking and to implicate me,” Stanford says.
For Stanford, that discovery did not come until late June, when he receives wire-taped recordings taken by the federal agents during their visit with Buswell in April, which coincided with a motion being filed by federal prosecutors to have Stanford removed from the securities fraud case, citing a conflict of interest.
Several days after obtaining the taped conversations, transcripts of which were viewed by IND Monthly, Hanna issues a ruling disqualifying Stanford from continuing his representation of Buswell. According to the transcripts of the federal wiretapping, Buswell repeatedly tells agents that Stanford is not the lawyer for Curious Goods. He says Barry Domingue, Buswell's business partner, is the attorney for Curious Goods, and that Stanford only represents him in the federal fraud case.
“By the end of the May 14 hearing, the federal prosecutors are arguing that I shouldn’t be representing Richard Buswell because we are both targets of the fed’s criminal investigation into Curious Goods,” Stanford notes. “They claim if Richard is allowed to cooperate he will implicate me, and the judge issues a ruling that the DEA agents did nothing wrong by serving him. But not once did they tell the judge they taped their interview. But they did. They were all wired up when they went to Iberia Parish Jail. That’s a violation of his 6th Amendment rights because he did not have a lawyer present.”
Stanford eventually is granted a rehearing by federal Judge Richard Haik on his disqualification from being Buswell’s lawyer. But the rehearing is considered moot after Stanford is listed in the federal grand jury’s indictment for the Curious Goods conspiracy, unsealed Oct. 3. Now Stanford faces a slew of conspiracy charges ranging from money laundering to distribution of illegal substances, but he will not get his day in court for another year.
“This is corruption in the sense of a misuse of power by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA,” argues Stanford. “And yes, I think my representation of Richard in the securities fraud issue is the reason I was indicted in the Curious Goods case. I think the two cases are directly connected, and they’re using this to open a new front in their War on Drugs.”
A replacement is expected by January to fill the vacancy left when Greg Roberts resigned after allegedly pointing a fake gun at an engineer during a June meeting.
Halliburton says it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a substantial portion of plaintiff claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Newly established honor recognizes outstanding local attorneys; Neuner and McGoffin win President's Award; and Blanchard named Outstanding Young Lawyer.
Daily paper constructing new digs near production plant on Rieger Road at Siegen Lane, near I-10.
Investigation finds Arnaud’s Furniture, Carroll Building Specialties and Crazy Charlie’s Shoes running misleading going-out-of-business sales.
Critics say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration's mismanagement of their program.
Potenza Marketing makes fastest-growing companies list.
Local 101 class Friday
“Byzantine” is the word members of the nominating committee for the local flood protection authority often use to describe the complicated, multi-layered matrix of qualifications that must be met to fill a vacancy on that board.
In the Pelican State, Benjamin Franklin buys you about $109 worth of stuff.
Brittan Bush joins Liskow & Lewis, Blake David installed as the Third District Member of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s board of governors, and Simien & Miniex announces 2014 scholarship winners.
“In some cases, we’ve found that these parts are nothing more than used junk yard parts. In others, we’ve found them to be foreign knock-off parts of questionable quality.”
The old Daily Advertiser building on Jefferson Street is being rehabbed as the owner prepares to move it back into commerce.
Its fourth leader gone after two years on the job, the facility struggles to balance the tension between its two missions.
Hub City Cycles hits the ground running through small-business center opportunity.
The future of the coastal loss lawsuit could rest in hands of board’s nominating committee.
Leaders from the local tech community ponder the question: What's missing from Acadiana's tech ecosystem?
AT&T’s U-verse heads our way. Here’s what it means for you.
LITE’s virtual environments are changing the way local employees learn how to do their jobs.
Local tech gurus will go the distance to call Lafayette home.
A look at recent hires, promotions and other news from Acadiana's business community.
New Johnston Street eatery catapults to No. 1 spot in nearly 200-location chain.
By identifying companies that match the output of its post-secondary educational institutions, Lafayette is creating opportunities that keep highly trained graduates in the area.