Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose appointments to the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board are coming under close scrutiny for their inconsistency in treatment of auction victims.
Sound Off Louisiana subscribers will recall the video we provided wherein State Rep. Johnny Guinn, R-Jennings, referenced that, “this same individual (Robert Burns, whom he declined to name but only referenced him as a ‘disgruntled auctioneer,’) tried to stir up a big mess inside the (auction) industry a few years back.” (For reference, see from the 4:52 – 5:10 mark of the video just linked).
Guinn actually gave Burns way too much credit because it was actually Guinn’s then-colleague, Rep. Damon Baldone, who, upon being convinced he was the intended victim of an illegal act of shill bidding who “stirred up a big mess.” How? By filing HB-1439 of the 2010 Legislative Session. Basically, Baldone, who felt there was an attempt at “down right theft” (quoting him verbatim) of $55,000 from him, sought to criminalize the practice of shill bidding at auctions with the penalty being equivalent to “theft by nonviolent means.” Of course, as all Sound Off Louisiana subscribers know by now, auctioneers, including members of the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board (LALB), aren’t bashful about engaging in “down right theft” as evidenced by member Jacob Brown’s recent arrest by Louisiana State Police for writing $175,000+ in worthless checks to the state of Louisiana entailing auctioning of state surplus equipment.
Burns, who served on Gov. Jindal’s LALB at the time of Baldone’s proposal (Jindal would terminate Burns’ services soon thereafter at Guinn’s direct request), attended LALB meetings during which Baldone was the subject of much discussion. Suffice to say that Adolph Hitler was likely deemed to have better character than Baldone in the eyes of the LALB members once Baldone filed his bill. Interestingly enough, several comments were made along the lines of Baldone, “being born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” and that he really, “shouldn’t give a d— about another $55,000 given how much he was paying for the house,” for which his final bid was $675,000 (making the total contract price after buyer’s premium tally $742,500).
Well, Baldone did “give a d—,” as would just about anybody irrespective of how wealthy he may be. In making his arguments in support of his bill, Baldone indicated that such false representations of bids would never be permitted on the stock market, and he made an excellent point in that regard. We challenge anyone to log onto TD Ameritrade (or other online brokerage) and attempt to execute a trade without either having the cash to buy the security or marginable securities which enable a loan for the proceeds to buy the security. Sure, one can hit the “send” button, and it will take mere nanoseconds for the “order rejected” screen to appear staring at the individual who attempted to place the order. Let’s take a brief peek at Baldone posing these arguments and the blowback he got back, primarily from Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport:
Baldone explains why he has sponsored his anti-shill-bidding initiative.
As stated above, Burns observed first-hand the comments made both by LALB members and audience members at LALB meetings at the time concerning Baldone’s wealth. Burns found them disturbing because Baldone’s wealth is irrelevant to the question of whether illegal acts transpire! It’s that simple!
More recently, evidence has been supplied to Sound Off Louisiana that the wealth of Ms. Judy Fasola, who was victimized by notoriously-problematic auctioneer Ken Buhler, may be playing a role in the LALB’s adamant stand that it is not going to file a bond claim to partially recover her losses. If the LALB ran a search on her at EBRP Clerk of Court (which board attorney Anna Dow is known to have a high propensity to do), they are aware that Fasola, on November 21, 2017, purchased a new home and, in so doing, paid $300,500 in all cash (i.e. with no mortgage to finance her purchase). We have received concerns indicating that fact may have played a role in the consistent denial of her request that the LALB file a bond claim on her behalf.
Our first step in investigating the potential for the LALB to factor in Fasola’s wealth was to make our own independent verification at EBRP Clerk of Court, and sure enough, we uncovered this transaction (with NO corresponding mortgage) regarding Fasola’s home purchase:
Now consider LALB Executive Director Sandy Edmonds’ response, voicing the sentiments of LALB Chairman Jacob Warren, to Fasola’s most recent request for her bond claim to be filed, which was supplied a mere eight months after Fasola’s purchase:
The letter referenced in the above email follows:
Now, we find it very interesting that Warren provides the justification for the LALB declining to file a bond claim that, “the court has not yet adjudicated your case” regarding a lawsuit Fasola filed against Buhler. Notice what he says further: “the board is not in a position to act without some action by the court.”
Well, guess what, folks? The State of Louisiana has sued Jacob Brown for his alleged theft (though, thus far, they have been unable to serve him). That case too has “not been adjudicated;” however, the LALB has already commenced with filing a bond claim to collect on Brown’s actions!
Perhaps the State of Louisiana is deemed to be a little more “broke” than Fasola? That must be the rationale because, otherwise, using Warren’s justification to Fasola (and treating victims in the same manner), the State should have been told, “first fully adjudicate your case against Brown. If you get a judgment that cannot be collected, then we’ll file your bond claim.”
So folks, the moral of the lesson here appears to be that, if you have any level of wealth like Baldone or Fasola, don’t expect any LALB sympathy or action when you are victimized by an auctioneer!
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