Arguably, it was his hunger to write that got him into trouble in the first place.
But Sal Perricone, the former federal prosecutor whose outing as a prolific and pseudonymous online commenter on federal cases set in motion the eventual ouster of his boss, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, has taken up the pen again, this time as a novelist.
Perricone will be discussing and signing his new book, “Blue Steel Crucifix,” at the Garden District Book Shop at 3 p.m. March 22.
The novel appears to draw heavily on Perricone’s experience in law enforcement, though how closely the plot resembles any real-life events is unclear.
A summary indicates that the protagonist is a “young Native American law student” named Wilson Three Eagles who is recruited by the FBI. Perricone is a former New Orleans police officer who attended law school at night and then worked for the FBI before becoming a federal prosecutor.
The storyline also ties together organized crime, a corrupt ex-governor and some nasty office politics as the young protagonist finds himself crosswise with some of his new colleagues as well as the mob and the “politically corrupt.”
The book, published by Wynnpix Productions, retails for $14.99. A sequel apparently is in the works.
Perricone left the U.S. Attorney’s Office in March 2012 after his extensive commenting — including rants about landfill owner Fred Heebe, then the target of a long-running federal probe — was revealed by Heebe’s defense team. The Justice Department later dropped the Heebe case without filing charges.
Perricone’s commenting, and revelations that other federal officials also had posted comments under aliases at nola.com, also led a judge to set aside the guilty verdicts against five NOPD officers convicted in the shootings of unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
Oil association head, mayor exchange shots
Last month, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association President Don Briggs fired a shot across the bow of any politician who dares to oppose the industry’s aims.
After reminding readers of his online column that 2015 is an election year, Briggs wrote: “Judges that blatantly rule against the industry, parish presidents that stand behind egregious lawsuits and mayors that publically (sic) support egregious litigations to prevent oil and gas activity were elected at some point in time. These same officials can also be voted out of office.”
Briggs also singled out the town of Abita Springs for filing suit against a plan by Helis Oil & Gas Co. to drill one fracking well in St. Tammany Parish.
The elected mayor of Abita Springs wasn’t going to take that one lying down.
Briggs’ column “is disturbing on many levels,” Mayor Greg Lemons wrote in a statement this week. “I find it offensive that Mr. Briggs would see fit to encourage efforts to quash the people’s rights to challenge a single industry’s attempt to circumvent established land use requirements in our community.”
Contrary to Briggs’ assertions, Lemons said, residents of Abita Springs understand both the benefits and the risks associated with the oil and gas industry. To suggest that the town’s suit was prompted by opposition to all drilling was to ignore the fact that more than 60,000 acres have been leased for potential exploration, he said.
Lemons has been an outspoken critic of Helis’ plans from the start, and Abita Springs has filed suit in St. Tammany Parish to block the well. A separate suit has been filed by the parish government in state district court in Baton Rouge.
Lemons concluded his statement by affirming his resolve in the fight: “My job is to represent the people of my community, and they have told me what they want. I will continue to do my best to see their will is carried out regardless of Mr. Briggs’ threats.”
Too many Johns run rings around Landrieu
With all of the doctors and musicians involved in the debate over a new ban on smoking in bars and casinos in New Orleans, it was perhaps not such a surprise that Dr. John came up, even if he was nowhere to be seen.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed the ban into law on Friday surrounded by staunch supporters of the new prohibitions.
After citing Dr. John Ochsner, a member of a medical family who has long crusaded against smoking, the mayor gestured toward “my good buddy and my singing coach — he’s got a bad student — Dr. John, who is with us and gave us very compelling testimony.”
Except the mayor was actually talking about the musician John Moore, better known as Deacon John.
Mac Rebennack was not in attendance.
“Wait, Dr. John is a white guy!” said Deacon John, who is black.
“I mean Deacon!” Landrieu said. “I thank you for speaking out.”
Compiled by staff writers Gordon Russell, Faimon A. Roberts III and Jeff Adelson