Archive for November, 2009
Ponchatoula man charged with running Ponzi scheme
By Jen DeGregorio, nola.com
November 19, 2009, 6:10PM
A Ponchatoula man has been arrested for running a Ponzi scheme in which he bilked at least 200 investors out of more than $11 million and allegedly used the money to pay for Mardi Gras krewe memberships and plastic surgery, among other personal expenses.
William J. Chaucer Jr. was booked in the Tangipahoa Parish Prison on charges of felony theft, selling unregistered securities, making material misrepresentations in the sale of securities and operating as an unregistered securities dealer, according to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office, which investigated the case with the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office. Chaucer’s bond has not been set.
william_chaucer.jpgRoger Zettler, The Advocate/The Associated PressWilliam and Cheryl Chaucer were photographed in September 2008 at a banquet celebrating her selection as Miss Louisiana Senior America at Carter Plantation in Springfield, La.
Chaucer was the principal of several financial companies, according to Caldwell’s office: Chaucer Holding Company, Chaucer Financial Services, American Credit of Hammond, American Credit of Covington and City Credit of Ponchatoula. The companies closed in September.
A Ponzi scheme works by juggling money among a stream of investors, using cash from new clients to create the appearance of profits on existing accounts. In Chaucer’s case, clients were told that their money was being invested in one of his loan companies. Individual investments ranged from $10,000 to $417,000, according to Caldwell’s office.
But Chaucer was actually using the cash to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle. Caldwell’s office said Chaucer spent $400,000 on Mardi Gras krewe memberships and krewe-related expenses for his family, $5,500 in plastic surgery and $11,800 in cosmetic dental work for Cheryl Chaucer, who competed in beauty pageants. Chaucer also allegedly spent $5,558 for tickets and ads to the Senior America Inc. pageant, along with $14,275.74 in photos, $20,905.74 in jewelry and “thousands more dollars” on expenses related to his wife’s pageant career.
A telephone listed in the name of William Chaucer at an address in Ponchatoula has been disconnected. Donald Hyatt, listed with the attorney general’s office as an attorney for Chaucer, did not return several telephone calls seeking comment.
The Web site for Senior America Inc. lists Cheryl Chaucer as “Ms. Louisiana Senior America 2008.” A biography on the site describes her as a talented singer who has performed with the likes of Fats Domino, Pete Fountain and the Neville Brothers. Cheryl Chaucer is also credited with serving on the boards and committees of a variety of major New Orleans institutions, including the New Orleans Opera Association, New Orleans City Ballet and Audubon Zoo. The Web site also describes the Chaucers as members of five Mardi Gras organizations. Cheryl Chaucer has reigned as Queen of Mercury, according to the site.
She and her husband were scheduled to reign together as King and Queen of Excalibur in 2011, but the couple resigned from those posts in August citing “business problems,” said Diane Brown, captain of the Metairie parading organization.
Chaucer is not the first Louisianan charged with running a Ponzi scheme. In August, former Metairie resident Judith Zabalaoui received an eight-year prison sentence for operating a Ponzi scheme that stole $5 million from clients in the New Orleans area.
About 1,700 Louisianans may have lost a combined $500 million in investments with R. Allen Stanford, the Texas financier who has been charged with stealing $7 billion in an international Ponzi scheme. Stanford has pleaded innocent of the charge.
By Mark Waller, The Times-Picayune
November 11, 2009, 7:20PM
Not wanting to compete with the biggest game in football, and potentially the biggest game in New Orleans Saints history, Metairie’s Krewe of Rhea has canceled its 2010 Carnival parade on Feb. 7, Super Bowl Sunday.
Rhea captain Anna Marie Soto said Wednesday that krewe members concluded turnout would be low, whether the now 8-0 Saints are in the game or not. They expect turnout to be zero if the Saints are indeed playing.
“That would’ve affected our riders and people coming in the street,” Soto said. “If the Saints get in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl, we wouldn’t have anybody out there.”
Rhea normally rolls in the early afternoon two Sundays before Mardi Gras and has been parading on Veterans Memorial Boulevard since 1969. Soto said she worked with Jefferson Parish officials to find another date in 2010, but the only options were evening time slots that didn’t appeal to krewe members because the parade attracts entire families with children.
“We really just have to sit out this year,” Soto said, adding that members didn’t want to risk spending the money to produce the parade only to find the streets and floats sparsely occupied.
Another Metairie krewe that has long paraded immediately after Rhea, the Krewe of Centurians, anticipated the Super Bowl conflict and switched its 2010 date a year ago, said captain Norman Bourgeois Jr. Centurians moved forward five days to Friday, Feb. 12, partly because of the game and partly because the krewe was already interested in making the move, Bourgeois said.
By parading on Friday night of Carnival’s final weekend instead of the preceding weekend, he said, the krewe hopes to increase member participation and crowd sizes and boost that day’s Friday’s Carnival activities in Metairie, which Bourgeois described as inconsistent in recent years.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a really good parade on Friday,” to compete with the offerings in New Orleans, he said.
New Orleans officials have not heard any concerns from krewes scheduled for Feb. 7 about competing with the Super Bowl, said James Ross, spokesman for Mayor Ray Nagin.
While the Super Bowl was part of the decision for Centurions, Bourgeois said, krewe officials had no idea at the time they sought their date change that the Saints would be making an historic run.
But the team’s bright prospects halfway through the regular season seem to validate the decision, he said.
“I don’t think anybody would want to miss that opportunity” to watch the Saints’ first Super Bowl, Bourgeois said. “We’ve got to dream.”
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Thanks to Satchmo.com for King info.
The satirical Krewe du Vieux parade will take place on Saturday, January 30, 2010, rolling through the Marigny and French Quarter. The King of KdV for 2010 will be music legend Dr. John, with Priestess Miriam Chamani reigning as Queen.
Krewe du Vieux has sub krewes, here’s a list:
Krewe of Comatose
Krewe of Mama Roux
Krewe of Underwear
Krewe of LEWD
Krewe of Drips and Discharges
Krewe de CRAPS
Krewe of CRUDE
Seeds of Decline