[StBernard] New St. Bernard DA named as defendant in suit alleging post-Katrina shakedowns

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Dec 3 23:09:57 EST 2014

New St. Bernard DA named as defendant in suit alleging post-Katrina

Nicosia allegedly part of shakedowns
Dec. 03, 2014
St. Bernard Parish's recently elected district attorney on Tuesday was added
as a defendant to a 2-year-old civil racketeering lawsuit that now alleges
he was "clearly part of the conspiracy" involving shakedowns of out-of-state
contractors handling debris removal work in St. Bernard after Hurricane
Katrina in 2005.

Days after his election last month, Perry Nicosia was sworn into office
following the death of his longtime predecessor, Jack Rowley.

In an amended four-count complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in New
Orleans, two contractors - Stephen Farmer, of Mississippi, and Curt Causey,
of South Carolina - allege they were required to pay Nicosia and his two
former law partners, Lance Licciardi and Randy Nunez, kickbacks in exchange
for getting cleanup work.

The money allegedly went through checks written to a shell company, St.
Bernard Debris Removal, that Nicosia registered in 2006.

A third contractor, Robert Casey, allegedly was forced to pay Jeff Difatta,
the son of former Parish Councilman Joey Difatta, a piece of his earnings
from the cleanup work. Casey, who was from Illinois, recently died, the
lawsuit notes; he has been succeeded in the litigation by Rosetta Ray Casey.

Nicosia's alleged involvement in the 2012 case is one of the few new details
to emerge in the amended complaint Tuesday. Allegations about his possible
role in the shakedowns became an issue in the recent campaign. Previously,
Nicosia has claimed he was a "silent partner" in the business and has
dismissed the allegations, saying the company was not profitable. He did not
return a call for comment Wednesday.

A separate 25-page court filing Tuesday outlined the basis of the lawsuit's
racketeering allegations against the three men, as well as allegations
against John "Mike" O'Malley, who owned D&O Contractors Inc., a large
Kenner-based subcontractor of post-Katrina cleanup work in St. Bernard, and
Daniel Wagner, who managed the Kenner firm.

O'Malley and Wagner "demanded" that outside subcontractors pay kickbacks to
the four men, according to the lawsuit.

They "agreed to the objective of extortionately demanding" that the men
handling the debris work pay part of their "earnings to such local St.
Bernard Parish residents in order to assure their continued profits and edge
in continuing to secure and administer the post-Katrina St. Bernard Parish
subcontracts," the lawsuit claims.

The 25-page case statement contends that "direct and circumstantial
evidence" exists that would "plainly indicate that Nicosia had to know about
and agree to the objectives of the extortionate conspiracy."

The court filing contends that 151 pages of transcripts of telephone
recordings and conversations Farmer had with O'Malley, Licciardi and Nunez
show how they coerced him into agreeing to share his earnings with St.
Bernard Debris Removal even though it did "no work for splitting part" of
the checks and it "did not even own any equipment."

The lawsuit describes the allegations as "a widespread extortionate
conspiratorial scheme to take part of outside subcontractors' and workers'
FEMA earnings as 'protection' money for plaintiffs and others to be able to
subcontract for debris removal in St. Bernard Parish."

The complaint says that, "whether (then) St. Bernard Parish President Junior
Rodriguez knew it or agreed or not, the defendants repeatedly told plaintiff
Farmer that Junior Rodriguez was requiring plaintiff and other outside
contractors to pay part of their earnings to defendants Lance Licciardi and
Randy Nunez or other local Rodriguez cronies."

The complaint alleges that Farmer was informed he needed to work out a deal
with Licciardi and Nunez if he "knew what was good for him and wanted to
keep his subcontract for debris removal." It alleges that Farmer resisted
doing so until June 2006, at which point he tried to pick up a check for his
work and was allegedly told by Licciardi and Nunez that he was "going to
have to work through them because they are local and that's the way their
friend Junior Rodriguez wants it."

The complaint alleges that the meetings with Farmer were held at the
Nicosia, Licciardi and Nunez law firm, during which Nicosia "often stopped
by to speak with those gathered."

Part of the arrangement called for Farmer to pay $1 per cubic yard of debris
removed, as well as half of any money collected for demolition work and half
of his retainer for cleanup work. For a while, Farmer or his assistant would
pick up his check for the work, then go to the law firm to figure out how
much would need to be paid as a kickback.

At one point, the complaint alleges, the checks were issued in the name of
St. Bernard Debris even though Farmer had done the work.

The court filing alleges that the contractors were extorted out of at least

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