it just gets more and more convoluted

tsk tsk tsk Stacey, didn’t yo mama teach you better? Keep on convincing yourself that you did nothing wrong and you are above the law because of your connections as the public continues to salivate for justice.

WWL-TV cameras were rolling as New Orleans Inspector General Robert Cerasoli left the U.S. Attorney’s office on Thursday. Though he was unable to elaborate on the reason for his visit, Cerasoli has begun investigating the city’s non-profit agency New Orleans Affordable Homeownership.

“Obviously it is a story that cries out for an investigation,” said Rafael Goyeneche, the president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

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“There are too many coincidences and too many close ties to people involved in the Nagin administration,” Goyeneche said. He added that Stacey Jackson, the former NOAH executive director, will likely be at the center of any inquiry.

Past WWL-TV reports have revealed Jackson’s ties to the two highest-paid contractors in the program. Jackson has had a prior business dealing with Richard Hall, the head of Hall Enterprises, who, in a phone interview, told WWL-TV that he knows Jackson “very well.”

Trellis Smith, the owner of the second highest-paid contractor, Parish-Dubuclet, also co-owns a clothing store in Canal Place with Jackson. Jackson is also a current employee of Smith’s advertising company, EC Advertising.

Eyewitness News has learned that Stacey Jackson also has ties to the third highest-paid contractor, Myers and Sons Enterprises, Inc., which earned $168,000 in the city’s home remediation program.

Before Hurricane Katrina, Jackson and her husband built a house in the Eastover neighborhood. The builder? Myers and Sons.

City records show the house at 160 Oakmont, with Stacey Jackson as the owner and Myers as the contractor.

The proposed 4,300 square-foot house cost $230,000, meaning that, according to city documents, the house was built four years ago at a cost of $53 per square foot.

Goyeneche said that raises ethical questions, adding, “Something like that could cross the line into something more sinister, or a potential criminal violation.”

After Hurricane Katrina, Jackson did more work to her home in Eastover, but in another permit filed with the city, the owner of 160 Oakmont is listed as Sterling Doucette. City records show a man named Sterling Doucette of Doucette Associated Contractors earned more than $15,000 in the NOAH home remediation program.

A permit filed in April 2005 shows Myers and Sons did work at a house at 1210 Burdette Street. In Secretary of State records, that is the same address that Stacey Jackson claims as headquarters for her printing company. It is also the same house that, according to Orleans Parish assessor records, Jackson owns with her sister Jamesha Turner.

City records show another property on Sixth Street, owned by Jackson’s printing company, had a 2007 permit listed to the contractor Myers and Sons Enterprises.

NOAH confirms Myers and Sons has done work for the non-profit agency for at least the past five years.

WWL-TV left messages with Myers and Sons several times Thursday, seeking comment, but calls were not returned.

Calls to former NOAH director Stacey Jackson have also gone unanswered.

On Thursday, WWL-TV was able to get reaction from the attorney representing the fourth highest-paid NOAH contractor, Cedric Smith, who is also the brother-in-law of Mayor Ray Nagin.

“Mr. Smith has turned over a lot of documents and we’re looking at the paperwork,” said attorney Robert Jenkins. “It’s his position he did nothing improper. He got the application and filled it out.”

On Wednesday, Mayor Nagin said he had had no conversations with the executive director of NOAH about hiring Smith. When asked whether, in his mind, there was any conflict with the situation, Nagin said “Not that I’m aware of.”

That comment is far different from what Nagin said in October 2002, when Smith acquired a large portion of a company that had a lucrative contract with the Regional Transit Authority.

“I was floored when I found out about this,” Nagin said in 2002, “because I had someone with me from the campaign. It should have been clear I am opposed to these types of deals.”

Smith later backed out of the deal involving RTA.

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~ by maringouin on Friday, August 1, 2008.

 
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