Auction victim Betty Jo Story and auctioneer Rev. Freddie Lee Phillips standing outside 19th JDC in Baton Rouge on Monday, January 26, 2015.
By now, any subscriber who has been receiving Sound Off Louisiana posts for any length of time knows that the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board (LALB) is as corrupt of a state agency as one could ever conceive of encountering. We won’t belabor the point of how extensively we have documented that fact because past features speak for themselves in that regard.
One of the most alarming aspects of the auction profession in Louisiana, however, is the propensity of auctioneers to take advantage of Louisiana’s elderly population and victimize them repeatedly! The latest such elderly auction consignor to allege that he has been victimized is 87-year-old Charles Moore, whose advocate is his close and trusted friend, Diane Rose. On Friday, September 21, 2018, Ms. Rose contacted us after having first seen all of the extensive past corruption that has been depicted both on Sound Off Louisiana posts as well as the Louisiana Association of Professional Auctioneer (LAPA) website, which was founded by Rev. Freddie Lee Phillips, Louisiana’s first and only African American auctioneer in its history.
Prior to providing the details of Moore’s case, we want to encourage all readers to take just eight (8) minutes of your time to see an historical account of both auctioneer and LALB victimization of 83-year-old Betty Jo Story as depicted in the following video:
83-year-old auction victim Betty Jo Story appeals to LALB to help her on September 10, 2013, followed by LAPA founder Rev. Freddie Phillips also appealing to the LALB to help her on January 26, 2015. (Email recipients need to click on blue headline lettering above to see video).
The latter portion of the preceding video depicts Story’s direct appeal to the LALB to help her mere moments after she had concluded pro se arguments before 19th JDC Judge Michael Caldwell after Story felt compelled to sue the LALB. Judge Caldwell was extremely complimentary of Story’s presentation and very sympathetic; however, he said that his hands were tied because any decision to appeal the finding of a ruling by a state agency must be filed within 30 days, and Story’s lawsuit was filed almost a year after the LALB’s decision was rendered denying her any relief whatsoever.
Though it is not the norm because she was not the prevailing party, Judge Caldwell signed a judgment ordering the LALB, not Story, to pay all court costs. That did not go over well with then-LALB attorney Larry S. Bankston, whom Attorney General Jeff Landry has steadfastly refused to award state contracts to because he is a convicted felon. In fact, Bankston got very terse with Ms. Story in a phone call, and the Office of Risk Management’s Ann Wax sent Story an apologetic email regarding Bankston’s conduct.
Entailing Moore, because of his age, he was relocating to Missouri (just as Story was relocating to an assisted living facility in the preceding video) to be close to his granddaughter. That triggered the need to liquidate his belongings, and he hired Louisiana-licensed auctioneer Wayne Cauthron to liquidate his holdings. In the complaint filed by Rose on Moore’s behalf she alleges that what ensued was a “classic tale of elder abuse involving fraud, deceit, and financial exploitation,” all of which are eerily similar to what’s depicted in the 8-minute video above entailing Story. The complaint speaks for itself, so we won’t elaborate.
On Monday, September 10, 2018, the LALB conducted another one of its sham administrative hearings for which, just like Story, Rose was very displeased with the outcome. In a very revealing email, however, Rose has supplied Sound Off Louisiana with concrete proof that LALB Executive Director Sandy Edmonds was less than candid (that’s a polite phrase judges use to indicate someone is lying) with her.
Of course, we already knew of Edmonds’ propensity in that regard because, when Edmonds was Executive Director of the Interior Design Board and her LALB counterpart, Sherrie Wilks (with whom she used to be close friends), were visiting with one another (offices were in close proximity), Edmonds observed Wilks completing a leave card for vacation she planned to take the following week. Edmonds asked what the document was and Wilks explained.
Edmonds then, according to a sworn affidavit filed in 19th JDC by Wilks (see top of page 16), stated that her board (Interior Design) did not require such documentation. In the affidavit, Wilks states she informed Edmonds that the leave cards were mandatory requirements of the state and then offered Edmonds such cards. Again, according to Wilks’ sworn affidavit, Edmonds then said: “No thanks. If anybody ever asks, I’ll just say I didn’t know.”
So, everyone would concur that Edmonds readily admitting that she would say, “I’ll just say I didn’t know,” would be a point-blank declaration that she would be perfectly willing to be, coining the judges’ phrase, “less than candid,” right? Well, it turns out Rose supplied us with an email from Edmonds indicating that, pertaining to that September 10, 2018 hearing, Edmonds stated: “The investigator only gave verbal testimony. No written documents exist.” We’ll reproduce Edmonds’ “less than candid” statement at this time:
As is obvious, Rose expresses frustration that, on September 24, 2018, Edmonds supplied her with an investigative report dated September 9, 2018, which is the day before the hearing, yet she indicated to Edmonds in the above email dated September 17, 2018 (a full week after the hearing and eight days after the report is dated) that no such document exists. Now, like us, Rose wants to review the video on the LALB’s website; however, we continue to get nothing but run-around from the LALB about why not even the July 9, 2018 meeting is posted to the board’s website of archived videos.
As many subscribers know, Rev. Phillips and I used to routinely attend these meetings and have the video available for viewing on Rev. Phillips’ trade association’s website either later that day or the next day, yet here it is a full 81 days after the July 9, 2018 meeting, and the video continues to not be available for viewing, much less the September 10, 2018 meeting! By the way, for the record, here’s the “investigative report which does not exist.”
In the report, Investigator Roger Phillips (no relation to Freddie Phillips and, in fact, Roger is Caucasian) makes the following conclusions:
“From what I have reviewed I believe the following violations have been
done by Cauthron.
LRS Title 46
Efforts to deceive or defraud the public
Incompetency or gross negligence
Failure to comply with all local, city, parish/county, or state laws.
Failure to obtain and maintain an Escrow Account for the business.”
Therefore, the report would seem highly relevant to the board’s deliberations, no? It would also seem that a report that damning would not conveniently slip Edmonds’ memory as to whether it exists or not, no?
It’s also worth noting that Rose was very frustrated by a letter dated July 24, 2018 from Edmonds. In an email to us dated September 24, 2018, Rose stated that Edmonds demonstrated a “prime example of her being unaccommodating and unwilling to follow through with simple requests.” She further added, “Edmonds never provided answers to my questions. Her letter states the items I requested would be released once the hearing was scheduled. I received notice of the scheduled hearing in a letter dated July 28th, 2018 from Anna Dow. However, Sandy Edmonds did not release the documents I requested.”
We very much want to review the September 10, 2018 meeting video because, if by chance Ms. Edmonds was truthful and only oral testimony was given and the report was in fact not even utilized by the investigator nor available to the Board, it suggests one of two scenarios, neither of which bode well for the LALB.
Either it was irresponsible to not even reference the written investigative report in the hearing and yet deliver a judgment on what transpired anyway, or the report was truly not composed at the time of the hearing and was backdated.
It is unlikely that the latter is what transpired because that would require collusion on the part of investigator Roger Phillips, leaving only the possibilities that either #1) Edmonds was deceptive about the report’s existence, or #2) the report did exist and the LALB made no use of it whatsoever for the hearing.
Since this feature is being published one day after Rose asked Edmonds to “please explain,” we do not know at this time if Edmonds provided any explanation for the obvious discrepancy.
At any rate, Rose was smart enough to contact a District Attorney and voice her frustration to him, and he has strongly encouraged her to reach out to Attorney General Jeff Landry about what transpired entailing Moore and the LALB’s action (or lack thereof) for an investigation into that incident and a pattern of LALB abuses of elderly auction consignors. We certainly echo that DA’s guidance; furthermore, we will soon be posting an appeal of our own to AG Jeff Landry concerning the LALB. That appeal is going to be the subject of our next feature, which our subscribers will NOT want to miss!
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