JEFFERSON PARISH -- Federal agents are looking into an offshore catering deal brokered by a company owned by Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and his top deputy, Craig Taffaro, the New Orleans Advocate reported.
While those law enforcement officials have dipped into the offshore marine industry, Shane Guidry, the offshore executive whose company Harvey Gulf International Marine gave out the catering contract, has been quietly expanding his influence in law enforcement circles.
After serving as a volunteer deputy under Normand and the late Harry Lee before that, Guidry was hired early this year by Attorney General Jeff Landry as a top executive and adviser.
“I will tell you it’s a tremendous bang for your buck when you have someone who runs a company with revenues exceeding a billion dollars and he can come in here and help you run your office,” Landry said earlier this year, when WWL-TV asked him about the hire.
Guidry was hired as special assistant to the attorney general after chairing Landry’s transition team for criminal investigations. Landry praises Guidry for stepping up and helping state government, essentially pro bono.
He makes just $12,000 to work part-time, although he says he spends well more than the 18-hour-a-week minimum and only takes a salary so he can establish himself as a full-fledged employee for his own protection against civil lawsuits.
Guidry said he plans to double the $12,000 salary and donate $24,000 to Children’s Hospital at the end of the year.
“You know, anybody can stroke a check … to make a donation,” Guidry said. “But it’s guys like me who step out there and donate our time, which is basically what I’m doing.”
Landry was Guidry’s private lawyer before Landry defeated incumbent Buddy Caldwell for the state’s top law-enforcement job.
“Yeah, I did, I did represent him,” Landry said. “But I can promise you it’s not a quid pro quo in any manner. I’m not paying him what I charged him, that’s for sure.”
Guidry said he’s been focused on streamlining the AG’s office, looking for cost savings and overseeing the criminal investigation unit’s operations.
Guidry built an $8 million mansion in Old Metairie, which stirred controversy in 2013 when a historic oak tree was mysteriously chopped down during construction, and again in 2014 when the Guidrys received special dispensation to build extra parking spaces for their servants.
Guidry owns dozens of companies, so many that he admitted having trouble keeping track of what they all do. He recently created a company called AGIII LLC for the sole purpose of supplying a vehicle for him to use on official attorney general business.
Landry spokeswoman Ruth Wisher said no public money was used to purchase the vehicle and unlike other employees, Guidry does not claim reimbursements for gas and mileage. Guidry said he set up the separate company, again, for legal protection.
WWL-TV asked Guidry if his numerous business ventures could create a conflict of interest with potential investigations. Guidry said it would not because he handles operational issues and won’t have any control over which investigations the attorney general pursues.
The station also asked Guidry and Landry how Guidry fits into the attorney general’s promise to end what Landry called corruption in the office he inherited from Caldwell. Guidry’s father, Bobby Guidry, was a major player in arguably the most famous corruption case in Louisiana history. He was convicted of bribing former Gov. Edwin Edwards to get a casino license.
Guidry bristled at being connected to his father, with whom he owned Harvey Gulf and several other businesses at the time. But the younger Guidry joined with a New York investment house to buy out the rest of his family from Harvey Gulf in 2008, and he says he and his father are now estranged.
“To imply that I’m connected to it is certainly incorrect,” Guidry said. “I didn’t own the casino, I didn’t own the license, I didn’t apply for the license.”
Bobby Guidry took a plea deal and testified against Edwards in his 2001 trial. He served time in a halfway house. He also got to keep the casino license for Treasure Chest Casino, which led to an infamous fight between him and competitor Al Copeland at Morton’s Steakhouse.
Shane Guidry was arrested, along with his father and brother, and accused of hitting Copeland’s pregnant wife. But now he says his father and two brothers did the fighting, not him.
“In Louisiana, the aggressor cannot claim self-defense,” Guidry said. “And when you charge a table and strike someone, they’re going to defend themselves and that’s what happened that night and that’s why all that was dismissed and thrown out.”
Guidry says he broke off all ties with his father five years ago. He said they had a falling out over an airplane they owned together.
“You know, family’s tough,” he said. “You can’t pick your family.”