“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.”
Georgia-based fried chicken chain would go up against Raising Cane’s, Chick-fil-A and others (like the Popeyes near its proposed location).
A Scott businessman has pleaded guilty to failing to report a conspiracy to award Opelousas Housing Authority construction bids to his company.
Court-appointed examiner says Lafayette businessman was “effectively on both sides” of transactions, opens door for legal action against him.
Lafayette-based insurance broker/risk management group bought by Florida firm for undisclosed sum; principals Landry and Harris continue to run local operations.
The House labor committee rejected bills Thursday that would have set the state minimum wage higher than the hourly federal rate of $7.25 and would have allowed local governments to set their own minimum wage.
Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained nine rigs, Texas increased by seven, California gained three and New Mexico increased by one.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,101 from the previous week's total of 1,985. There were 2,444 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
Eleven Senate Democrats, including Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and five others who face contested races this year, urged President Barack Obama on Thursday to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of May.
In a press release issued Wednesday, BancorpSouth announced a deal to acquire Knox Insurance Group of Lafayette.
Get ready for Tenacious Tuesday, ladies, ’cause it’s returning, too.
The drug companies said Tuesday they will “vigorously challenge” the decision, which was handed down by a Lafayette jury in federal court Monday.
The gap comes from a $35 million increase in enrollment growth and a $20 million “cash flow issue” which Education Superintendent John White did not explain.
Two additional tenants sign letters of intent for Phase I of lifestyle center.
The attorneys representing the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East in its lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies may have just quashed the main line of criticism coming from Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association.
It’ll be another week before Rep. Joel Robideaux’s House Bill 862 — an attempt at making it more cumbersome for parish governments to sue oil and gas companies — undergoes its first round of debate.
The civil complaint alleges that Joyce Bougere-Keyes prepares federal income tax returns for customers who report fabricated and/or inflated business income and expenses to maximize the amount of the Earned Income Tax Credit her customers claim.
Because... greedy trial lawyers?
Landrieu is chair of the U.S. Senate committee that deals with energy policy. The lawsuit puts her between two areas in which she's been a strong advocate: rebuilding Louisiana's coast and supporting the oil and gas industry.
Each facing 20 years in prison, couple are last two defendants in a 10-count indictment to plead guilty.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims fell to 1,985 from the previous week's total of 2,131. There were 1,663 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
Tyrone Ben, a human resources manager for a mental health and counseling service in Chalmette, became the second of two nominees that could fill the seat now held by Tim Doody on the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.
Local Latter & Blum company now second only to sister entity in New Orleans
Under a bill that received the backing of a Senate judiciary committee, a person would be limited to 10 short-term loans a year from payday lenders.
Chitimacha Louisiana Open fans enjoy garden party at sunset
Area hospitality guru adds to his growing list of properties