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Clements said he warned port

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 15, 1998

LAPLACE – Richard Clements, former executive director of the Port of South Louisiana, sounded off Thursday on the current investigations directed at Bay Star Enterprises.

“Before I left there, I urged the commission to do an audit on it,” Clements said from his home in Florida in a telephone interview with L’Observateur.

Clements’ remarks were not detailed, as he has been interviewed already by Louisiana State Police and the state Inspector General’s office, which are following up on allegations made by Clements and current president Brandt Dufrene. He said he was asked not to make detailed remarkspublicly on his allegations.

“I talked to the Inspector General before I left there,” Clements said. “Ithought there was some stuff there that ought to be investigated.”He added, however, “I don’t expect much to come out of it.”Of his depositions, Clements said only, “I answered all their questions as honestly as my memory allows.”Clements said Marvin Harvey, owner of Bay Star Enterprises, was a long- time friend of commissioner E.J. Martin. “Marvin was brought in andintroduced to me by E.J.,” Clements said.He added he was happy to see the new face, as Harvey’s predecessor, Andy Lagueruela of Holden Springs Inc., posed problems in the management. “Ithought, here’s an opportunity to hire somebody knowledgeable and who won’t screw us.”However, Clements said, the relationship soured quickly.

“He was looking to maximize his benefits from contracts without putting much on maintenance,” he said of his management of Globalplex.

This has resulted in the port commission having to play catch-up on various maintenance items at the facility in Reserve.

For example, Clements said, “Marvin told me that place was certified free of asbestos.” Instead, the port had to go back and approve $13,400 for asbestos removal from the tops of five sugar boilers at Wednesday’s meeting.

“Pro-Tech (…nvironmental Services) was allowed to skip out on the specs from the contract signed by Marvin,” Dufrene commented at Wednesday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, as commissioner Brent Tregre pointed out, Marvin was receiving a $50,000 professional services consulting fee from Pro-Tech.

Clements said under the terms of the Bay Star contract with Pro-Tech for asbestos removal and scrap sales, the income thus received was Pro- Tech’s payment for the job.

Also, Clements alleged, certain century-old water lines were to be moved during the asbestos removal. As it developed, the lines were never movedand no reports were ever provided.

At Wednesday’s port commission meeting, the commission agreed to spend nearly $5,800 for emergency repairs already made to the old lines so the facility will have continued fire protection, and voted to spend $45,000 to install new replacement lines.

“Marvin wasn’t screwing me over,” Clements asserted. “Marvin wasscrewing over the port.”He continued, “You can stand there and look somebody in the eyes and hear them say, ‘If I find out about wrongdoing, I’ll do something about it,’ but they never think it applies to them.”Harvey told L’Observateur he felt when Clements left the port last year, “He was mad at me, he was mad at everybody.” Harvey termed Clements’still-unspecified allegations as false and called the whole mess “political.”Clements responded, “I only got mad at Marvin one time, where I had angry words with him over some scrap from an old barge. I guess he just gotassociated with the wrong people.”Though Harvey was brought in to Globalplex management in 1995, no audit was begun until the latter half of 1997. “I couldn’t hire an auditor,”Clements pointed out, citing state law. He said only the president andtreasurer of the port commission are empowered to do that. Then he saidto look at who was president and treasurer at the time: E.J. Martin andHenry Sullivan.

He commented as to the commission’s willingness to proceed against Bay Star: “I admire the new commissioners for being willing to take the ball and run with it.”

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