Robin Sylvester, contractor Billy Broussard’s former attorney regarding a potential lawsuit against GOHSEP.
Long-time Sound Off Louisiana subscribers are aware that we have likely published more features entailing contractor Billy Broussard than any other individual. For the benefit of new subscribers, in a nutshell, Broussard performed cleanup work in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita in Calcasieu Parish. He asserts that Gravity District 8 of Ward 1 of Calcasieu Parish (GDD8) officials made false representations to FEMA regarding the eligibility of debris in order to obtain funds for work he performed at the direct behest of contractors hired by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). He claims that, upon receiving funds to cover Broussard’s work, GDD8 then redirected those funds intended to pay him to GDD8’s own on-staff workers for work they also performed. Significantly, Broussard claims the work performed by GDD8 employees were on areas of Indian Bayou which were not even located on the Army Corps’ Wetland Permit pertaining to the project.
Broussard sued GDD8, and he lost both at the trial level and at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (the Supreme Court declined to hear his Writ of Appeal from the Third Circuit). Broussard then went on a massive campaign to obtain public records, and he has asserted that those documents (many of which are incredibly damning to GDD8) were intentionally withheld from his two attorneys who represented him: Attorney General Jeff Landry (at a time that he was a private citizen between his stint as a U. S. Congressman and becoming AG) and Robin Sylvester. Since that time, he has been exploring every possible angle for him to recover the $1 million plus that he asserts was swindled from him by GDD8 and contractors hired by GOHSEP.
Part of his efforts to finally be compensated entailed entering into a contract with one of his two attorneys, Robin Sylvester, to represent him in a brand new cause of action (lawsuit) against GOHSEP. Sylvester drafted a petition against GOHSEP and stated to Broussard that it had to be filed no later than Friday, October 6, 2017, which represented, “one year from the date Danielle Aymond from GOHSEP told Billy that she had an additional disk not produced by (former GOHSEP attorney) Ben Plia [he got the disk a few days later which would be the actual date (for prescription)].” Sylvester would subsequently explain to Broussard that the prescription period for initiating litigation based on new revelations of fraud is one year.
Broussard met with Sylvester on October 5, 2017 fully expecting the litigation to be filed the next day; however, Sylvester informed him that, “We have plenty of time.” Her apparent rationale for that statement was the fact that there is a 10-year prescription period entailing contracts, and the conclusion of the work pertaining to Hurricane Rita was in 2009. Hence, the prescription date would fall sometime in 2019.
For whatever reason, Sylvester declined to file a lawsuit. Accordingly, as we’ve previously reported, Broussard went for Sylvester’s jugular in sending her a certified letter demanding that she provide her malpractice insurance carrier for purposes of him filing a claim. He provided a deadline of 12:00 noon on March 7, 2019 for her to provide her malpractice insurance carrier. When Sylvester declined to do so, Broussard filed a formal complaint with the Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) against Sylvester. Broussard emphasized Sylvester’s recorded statements entailing 14th JDC’s “crooked judges.” He also emphasized Sylvester’s dressing down of Broussard for his expectation that she would, “go up against Kelly Fontenot (Fraud Analyst at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury) and Rusty Stutes (attorney for GDD8),” in addition to those “crooked judges.”
On July 1, 2019, Sylvester issued her formal response to Broussard and, after being contacted by ODC officials inquiring of Broussard whether he had any further information he sought to provide, on November 21, 2019, Broussard provided ODC with yet another bombshell audio of Sylvester of late September, 2018. We at Sound Off Louisiana have been provided with a digital copy of the audio recording between Sylvester and Broussard of late September, 2018, and boy, does it have some devastating rebuttals regarding Sylvester’s response letter to ODC just linked.
Let’s break down a portion of Sylvester’s response and then provide audio which Broussard supplied to ODC as his rebuttal of her response to his claim:
First, let’s consider Sylvester’s bold statement to ODC that Broussard, “did not have a cause of action supporting a claim for damages against GOHSEP.” From Sylvester’s letter (see bottom of page one):
Broussard Construction did not have a cause of action supporting a claim for damages against
GOHSEP; therefore, while I placed my notes on a rough draft of a petition while researching
potential causes of action against GOHSEP in 2017, I did not prepare or file the Petition.
Further, any new litigation against GOHSEP filed in East Baton Rouge Parish would be
completely separate from the Litigation in Calcasieu Parish.
Now, let’s listen in on a few audio files of a September, 2018 recorded conversation between Broussard and Sylvester regarding this so-called “non cause of action” entailing GOHSEP:
Sylvester essentially says GOHSEP needs to man-up and pay Broussard the approximate $850,000 she claims the agency still owes Broussard.
Sylvester and Broussard extensively discuss GOHSEP’s liability for allegedly-fraudulent representations that GOHSEP’s contracted monitors made to FEMA regarding reimbursement for debris cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. Sylvester begins to outline GOHSEP’s liability at the 1:07 mark of the above audio, and she continues it at the 2:14 mark.
Broussard outlines the degree to which he alleges GDD8 officials colluded with GOHSEP contracted monitors to keep him in the dark regarding whether debris he was directed to remove by those GOHSEP contracted monitors was eligible for FEMA reimbursement or not.
The three audios above likely form the foundation for why Broussard, in fulfilling ODC’s request for a rebuttal of Sylvester’s contention that he had no cause of action against GOHSEP, made the following statement to ODC:
As you can tell, Ms. Sylvester lays out my cause of action against GOHSEP; furthermore, near the end of the audio, she is practically salivating in telling me I can agree to the same 35% contingency contract which I’d already executed with her. Is it not therefore incredibly ironic that she would indicate to you only four months or so later in her response to my complaint that I had no valid cause of action against GOHSEP and that she was just trying to basically hold down the fort until I could find another attorney? She is both deceiving you and insulting your own intellect in making that representation to you!
Now, as former blogger C. B. Forgotston used to say, “You can’t make this stuff up!” Notwithstanding the above three audio clips, the next clip we’re about to present literally blew us away! Broussard has told us about numerous meetings he has held with various parties and elected officials regarding this matter, and they all emphasized, “We can’t just give you money! You have to sue GOHSEP and we can thereafter enter into immediate settlement negotiations.” Now, that should make common sense, no? Nevertheless, in the following audio clip, everyone can hear Sylvester openly ponder, “Do I need to sue GOHSEP?” (As we said, this stuff simply can’t be made up, and Broussard even explains that he’s been told they MUST sue GOHSEP!!!!):
Sylvester openly ponders whether she should sue GOHSEP!
What’s our one-word observation of Sylvester openly questioning if she has to sue GOHSEP? DUH!
Now, in the above audio, Sylvester resolutely says it boils down to her having to sue GOHSEP in order for GOHSEP to then drag its own contracted monitors in as a third-party defendant. As she states near the end of the audio above, “We can then bypass the whole s— show in Lake Charles.”
Now, as we’ve already pointed out, Sylvester has assessed 14th JDC as being comprised of “crooked judges.” She’d essentially admitted that the hearing scheduled to lift the clearly-illegal restraining order under which Broussard had been placed was all but moot. She flatly said that the only reason she filed the litigation to have the restraining order lifted was to keep the case against GDD8 from being abandoned. Clearly, any money damage Broussard may recover would have to arise from new litigation filed against GOHSEP in 19th JDC in Baton Rouge. That fact notwithstanding, Sylvester didn’t refrain from lambasting 14th JDC Judge Ritchie for failing to follow proper procedure regarding a pending Peremptory Exception of Res Judicata motion before the court. Let’s take just a few seconds to listen to Sylvester lambasting 14th JDC (for the record, however, she is totally spot-on regarding how the pending motion should have been processed by the court):
Sylvester vents her frustration at 14th JDC Judge Ritchie for failing to follow proper court procedure entailing a Peremptory Exception of Res Judicata entailing a hearing for the lifting of a restraining order which remains in place against Broussard to this very day.
Now, one thing Sylvester made clear to Broussard was that, if Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns showed up to cover any court hearing, she stated she had no intention of showing up! Once Broussard made it clear he had no intention of telling Burns he could not come (which Burns would have ignored such an admonition anyway), Sylvester softened her previously-adamant stand regarding Burns’ courtroom presence. Let’s take a brief listen, shall we?
Sylvester voices her frustration at the prospect of Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns attending any court hearing entailing Broussard.
We find it interesting that Sylvester would have to say, regarding Burns, that he can, “sit back in the courtroom and be quiet….” What the hell does Sylvester think Burns is going to do? Bring his camera in and attempt to videotape the proceeding? Does she think any court hearing entailing Broussard would be Burns’ first rodeo in a courtroom? We’re willing to wager that Burns has quite likely spent more collective time in courtrooms observing motions or actual trials than Sylvester has by a country mile!
While we’re on the subject matter of Sylvester’s aversion to Sound Off Louisiana attending a court hearing, let’s take a moment to examine another aspect of Sylvester’s response to Broussard’s complaint:
Broussard sent me an email on
October 4, 2018 threatening negative media attention from a blogger, Mr. Robert Burns, if l did
not follow his instructions regarding the handling of the hearing. A copy of that email is attached
as Exhibit “J”.
Well, subscribers are welcome to view Broussard’s email here. The pertinent part Sylvester references is apparently this commentary by Broussard:
You made the statement that, “If he (Burns) is at the hearing, I am leaving.” Now I realize that was in the context that I wanted him to be a witness to the fact Police Juror Hal McMillin stated to Burns that he had “no knowledge whatsoever” that any restraining order had ever been filed. Burns has indicated to me that such testimony on his part would be clearly inadmissible as hearsay and that McMillin himself would have to be placed on the witness stand to make such a statement. That fact notwithstanding, Burns IS going to be present, and he will be producing a feature outside the courthouse once the hearing concludes.
The content of what he produces will be a function of your performance in court. It would be my desire that he be able to indicate to his viewing audience (as he embeds the damning email jpegs into his Sound Off post to where they are staring readers right in the face rather than having to click on links as is the case above in this email) that my attorney “went to bat for her client (me) and swung for the fences,” rather than reporting something along the lines that you were too timid to grill Fontenot (or God forbid, too timid even subpoena her to be present!) on the obvious problems of her prior testimony which, again, I believe constituted perjury, and the obvious damning nature of her emails linked above. I would certainly hope that, should you demonstrate any such timidity entailing your questioning of Ms. Fontenot, it would not be as the result of an effort to avoid alienating the “courthouse crew” in Calcasieu Parish because doing so may inhibit your chances of a successful run for judge yourself.
We’ll let our subscribers draw their own conclusions of whether Broussard makes any “threat” of negative media attention; however, we will state unequivocally to Sylvester that we report the facts of what transpires in courtrooms! PERIOD!
What we report on notwithstanding, what has become painfully obvious to us is that, despite the fact that we may serve as advocates for their clients, attorneys facing the prospect of suing state agencies don’t really want us around in the courtroom. We’ve noted the uneasy feeling readily apparent on Jill Craft’s face as we cover features in which she serves as attorney for plaintiffs suing state agencies, and we have covered an absolute plethora of such cases in which Craft has represented plaintiffs because Craft essentially specializes in suing state agencies!
Why do these attorneys have these uneasy feelings? Because it only takes a matter of a few minutes to peruse Sound Off’s website to know we’re no fans of Governor John Bel Edwards. Well, it is the Governor’s Office in which the ability to settle lawsuits is bestowed. The last thing these attorneys want to do is in any way offend Governor Edwards as it may lessen the chance for a quick settlement upon the filing of the litigation. If it’s known the client has utilized Burns as an advocate, given Burns’ staunch anti-Edwards leanings and blog posts, well, maybe the State of Louisiana may not be so inclined to settle (i.e. “guilt through association” notwithstanding the fact that the mainstream media often doesn’t even bother reporting the first thing on many of the cases which we cover).
Lending credence to our theory is: #1) the recent appearance by Craft to defend and endorse Edwards while simultaneously neglecting to mention that she is also representing a client, Cathy Derbonne, whom Craft asserts in pleadings that same Governor she’s defending and, more importantly, making a very public endorsement of, had a representative from his own office (or perhaps Edwards himself) tell Derbonne to, “Shut the f— up,” entailing her whistle blowing actions with the Louisiana State Police Commission; and #2) the following audio wherein Sylvester seems to demonstrate an aversion to following through on suing GOHSEP because she indicates that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards won’t want the negative publicity entailing his own Chief of Staff, Mark Cooper. Let’s take a listen, shall we?:
Sylvester states that Gov. Edwards won’t want the negative publicity associated with her filing a suit entailing actions of his Chief of Staff, Mark Cooper, and that she certainly doesn’t have the goal of “making the Governor look bad.”
Gov. Edwards certainly wouldn’t have any reason to have feared any negative publicity entailing Cooper. Why? Because of the absolutely unprecedented level of stupidity and clueless nature of his runoff opponent, Eddie Rispone, and the campaign operatives in whom he placed his trust (and $14 million)! We’re going to have MUCH more to say on that matter in a future post!
Now, if Sylvester felt Broussard had no cause of action, isn’t it absolutely stunning to listen in on her efforts to sign him up to a 35% contingency recovery? Why don’t we take a listen, shall we?:
Sylvester pushes Broussard to sign a 35% contingency contract for her legal representation, yet she would state to ODC four months later that Broussard, “had no cause of action.” Let’s see if we do the math correctly! 0.35 x 0 = 0, huh? Incredibly, despite describing filing the litigation as “a waste of time,” Sylvester nevertheless indicates to Broussard her need for immeidate cash because some of her other clients aren’t paying her! She conculdes with the incredible query of Broussard for him to be contemplating “your settlement range.”
Now, as the meeting starts to conclude, Sylvester is starting to crawfish even more on her resolve to sue GOHSEP. In fact, she goes so far as to say she’s not sure GOHSEP can be sued (again reference Forgotston’s slogan of “not being able to make this stuff up”). Let’s listen in:
Sylvester (if her words can be taken at face value rather than just an attempt to bamboozle Broussard) openly ponders whether she even can sue GOHSEP!
Incredibly, Sylvester later returns to saying, “We have to sue GOHSEP!” Let’s listen in again:
Sylvester again reverses course and makes the emphatic statement that, “We have to sue GOHSEP!”
Now the meeting gradually gravitated toward Sylvester and Broussard meeting with GOHSEP and Broussard’s lobbyists who have been attempting to resolve the matter without litigation (though recall that numerous individuals who have met with Broussard have stated that he “must” sue GOHSEP). The lobbyists indicated to Broussard that it would be helpful to obtain an updated affidavit from GOHSEP. Broussard made that request of Sylvester on behalf of his lobbyists. Here’s Sylvester’s response:
Sylvester pours cold water all over Broussard’s lobbyists asking him to obtain an updated affidavit from GOHSEP.
Now, in the following audio clip, Sylvester admits that, “GOHSEP is not at the table,” and that she “has no idea how to bring them to the table.” Gee, perhaps a lawsuit? Let’s listen in:
Sylvester declares GOHSEP to “not be at the (negotiating) table” and further states she has “no idea how to get them to the (negotiating) table.”
While Sylvester seems to literally be all over the map on whether or not she would sue GOHSEP, she seems laser focused on conveying to Broussard just how much time and energy would be required and justifying a need for more money from him, particularly for the supposedly-moot litigation entailing the restraining order. Let’s listen in:
Sylvester moans to Broussard about how much work would be required to further represent him.
Sylvester breaks the news that (surprise) she needs more money.
Regarding the supposed meeting referenced above, let’s conclude this feature by reproducing a final segment of Broussard’s rebuttal to the ODC:
Ms. Sylvester never gave me (nor anyone else to my knowledge) a reason for why she reneged on convening that meeting; WHY AWOL at critical times (which she’d previously done on the October 2017 date at which she said my cause of action against GOHSEP would prescribe). It’s my sincere hope that ODC officials will inquire of her why she declined to schedule the meeting she clearly references on the preceding audio link. Perhaps she conferred with AG Jeff Landry and he poured cold water on the whole idea? I have no idea, but I hope somehow, someway either ODC or somebody can get to the bottom of why she made no effort whatsoever to follow through!
As is obvious from Broussard’s rebuttal, Sylvester had to tend to personal matters (via text and phone calls), and he left that material in the audio link he supplied to ODC. We now provide a link for the meeting(s) in its (their) entirety; however, we have removed that personal information pertaining to Sylvester.
Our final word of advice to Sylvester: Beware those recording devices. Anything you say can and will be used against you in ODC proceedings should a complaint be filed against you.
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