Another bombshell lawsuit has been filed by federal target and Fred Heebe, the embattled co-owner of River Birch landfill.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Orleans Parish Civil Court, Heebe claims that First Assistant U.S. Attorney Jan Mann not only knew about improper online comments by one of her assistants – Sal Perricone – she posted several dozen of her own inflammatory comments.
Heebe's defamation lawsuit is almost identical to the one that ultimately revealed the identify of Perricone, a longtime assistant prosecutor who was forced to leave the office after admiting to posting hundreds of online comments under the name "Henry L. Mencken 1951."
In his suit, Heebe claims that Mann posted her own defamatory comments using the alias "eweman." The suit states that 60 percent of the eweman comments appeared after news stories in which Perricone also posted under his online alias.
“In some cases, the “eweman” and “Mencken” comments were posted minutes apart and evince some degree of coordination between their authors,” the suit states.
Neither Mann nor U.S. Attorney Jim Letten had any comment on the lawsuit after learning about it Friday morning.
In an attempt to link the blog comments to Mann, the suit states that “eweman’s writings contain thematic and linguistic signposts that point unmistakably in the direction of the USAO and, in particular, to Letten’s second-in-command.”
As they did with Perricone, Heebe’s attorneys and experts claim they found stylistic flourishes in Mann’s writing that precisely match the language used by eweman.
For example, Heebe claims that eweman uses “superfluous spacing before punctuation marks,” the same feature seen in Mann’s writings. The suit also notes eweman’s use of the obscure slang term “fender lizard” which “Ms. Mann is known to use in conversation.”
The posts attributed to eweman skewered officials and personalities that included former U.S. Attorney and ex-New Orleans D.A. Eddie Jordan, convicted former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, WWL radio talk show host Garland Robinette and, of course, Heebe himself.
On Jordan, eweman wrote, “Eddie Jordan is as pathetic as (Edwin) Edwards is evil,” and “Had he not been elected DA our crime problem would not have spun so far out of control.”
Commenting on a story about Broussard, who has since pleaded guilty to corruption charges, eweman posted this comment: “It sounds like a couple of you out there think that won’t land them in the pen. Haven’t you been paying attention? You take the kind down for anything you got him on. Al Capone went to jail for taxes, remember?”
Eweman also posted lengthy comments about Garland Robinette, who admitted accepting a $250,000 loan from Heebe. A portion of one comment stated, “If hypocrisy is one of the most damning traits, Mr. Robinemblind is the poster boy. He is a two bit journalist/artist/con man who needs to go ASAP.”
Some of the online comments were critical of attorney Arthur "Buddy” Lemman, who is representing the former chief financial officer of River Birch, Dominick Fazzio, in an unrelated fraud case.
In one post, eweman wrote, “Lemman actually referred to himself as a Dragon Slayer in his book – you got to be kidding. This guy looks like Boss Hog and hasn’t looked at a law book since he left school.”
Asked about those online posts, Lemman said, “It will create another mushroom cloud over that office…When you have this kind of scurrilous, extra-judicial activity, it’s very disturbing to me both as a lawyer and as a citizen.”
The lawsuit cites only a few instances in which eweman makes direct reference to Heebe, one of them linked to a news story about Robinette. In that post, eweman wrote that Robinette “was selling his opinions to the highest bidder.”
“Ms. Mann made these false statements against Mr. Heebe maliciously and with knowledge that the statements were false.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages, claiming that Mann's comments "harmed Mr. Heebe's reputation" and "exposed him to contempt and ridicule."