Eric Cloutier, the former Icegator and downtown bar owner who pleaded no contest in 2009 to tax evasion, money laundering and a slew of other charges, is suing the owners of Karma for hundreds of thousands of dollars he says they owe him for selling his share of the downtown nightclub.
Cloutier sold his shares in Marley’s and Karma a few months after he was arrested in February 2009 for manipulating his cash registers to conceal sales, illegally obtaining alcohol permits by providing false information and, among other charges, filing false tax returns. In return for his best interest guilty plea, in which Cloutier did not admit guilt, he was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in prosecution costs to the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.
Now Cloutier is taking formal action against Karma owners Robert Oja, Mike Parich Jr. and Dennis Talbot in an attempt to recoup more than $330,000 he says he is owed by the ownership group.
“When I sold the business they didn’t have the money to buy me out, so they were just paying me monthly,” Cloutier says. “They’re all behind on their notes, and I tried for over a year to get the money. I didn’t want to [file lawsuits], but what can I do? The business is making money, but they’re not paying me. It was really my last resort.”
Cloutier claims in the lawsuits that Oja owes more than $115,000 for his share of the buyout and interest fees outlined in the contract. According to Cloutier’s court filings, Parich owes roughly $73,000 on his share and Talbot owes almost $142,000. Oja has only paid $387 since signing the promissory note in June 2009, according to court documents.
None of the three owners targeted in the lawsuit could be reached for comment this morning.
The former Lafayette hockey standout says he still lives in Lafayette and has been working as a consultant for an unnamed Baton Rouge firm and other unnamed clients to develop nightlife establishments in Baton Rouge. As part of his probation, Cloutier is barred from having an alcohol permit until his probation is complete in the next few months. When he clears his legal hurdles, Cloutier says he wants to open a night club or bar in downtown Baton Rouge.
“I don’t really want to do business in Lafayette to be quite honest,” Cloutier says. “Nothing has changed in downtown Lafayette; there’s no reason for me to do business over there.”
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.