Walter Reed was not in his office on Friday, the final working day before Warren Montgomery is sworn in as the 22nd Judicial District’s new district attorney, but a process server stopped in to try to deliver a subpoena for Reed in a federal lawsuit filed by a former gold shop owner who has accused Reed and his business partner, Yancie “Bubba” Moseley III, of racketeering.
Papillon Anderson, who is also a bail bondsman, said he’s found it difficult to serve subpoenas at Reed’s office in the past, but on Friday, he said he was told deputies would detain him if he didn’t leave with his subpoena.
That threat was first made by a female employee and then by Ronald Gracianette, an assistant district attorney, Anderson said.
Gracianette could not be reached for comment.
As he was leaving the office, Anderson said, a woman ran out and told him, “Take it back right now, or we’ll have deputies detain you.”
He said he turned to two St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies who were nearby and asked if they were going to detain him; if not, he said, he was leaving. They looked confused, he said, and put in a call to a ranking officer.
Anderson was making a call, too, and that is when Gracianette came out, accompanied by deputies and demanding to know whom he was calling, he said.
Anderson said Gracianette also threatened to detain him. The two argued over whether it was valid service of the subpoena to leave it at the DA’s office. Gracianette said it was not, but Anderson maintained that the office was Reed’s office until 4:30 p.m., when it closed for the day.
Ultimately, Anderson said, he called their bluff, leaving without taking back the subpoena he had left.
“I said, ‘If you are going to arrest me, arrest me. If not, I have things to do,’ ” he said. “I wasn’t going to let them intimidate me.”
Ally Lawton, who is a paralegal for attorney Mike Fawer, said that initially her 19-year-old daughter Hailey Lawton tried to serve the subpoena. She was turned away by a woman in the office who refused to give Lawton her name. Fawer said his office was attempting to serve Reed in a federal lawsuit filed by Eric Cazaubon in October. Reed had refused to waive service, Fawer said, meaning the document had to be physically delivered. It’s not unusual to leave a subpoena with a receptionist or someone else in an office, he said.
Serving a subpoena normally is a routine matter, Fawer said, but threatening to detain the person serving it “seems like obstruction of justice, not that I’m trying to escalate it. It’s a hell of a way to get out of office.”
Cazaubon’s lawsuit claims that Reed’s gold-buying business, MR Precious Metals, engaged in a pattern of racketeering to control the used-gold market in south Louisiana and south Mississippi.
Cazaubon was on active probation in 2010 when he says that Moseley approached him about selling gold to MR Precious Metals. In his suit, he claims Moseley flashed a badge and pressured him to do so; he also claimed Reed’s influence would enable Cazaubon to get help if he had legal troubles, the suit says.
Their relationship soured when they disagreed over the price of a ring, and Cazaubon claims he was set up for retaliation. He says drugs were planted in his house during a search. A raid was conducted a week after the split, and Cazaubon’s probation was revoked because a stun gun and knife were found at his business and a marijuana cigarette was found at his home.
Morgan Stewart, a spokesman for Reed, has said the district attorney never met Cazaubon and never heard his name before Cazaubon took his allegations public.
“The idea that (Reed) used his office to inflict legal retribution against a man he never heard of is ridiculous,” Stewart said. “This is a frivolous lawsuit by Mr. Cazaubon. ... This is clearly a man who is attempting to relitigate his drug conviction in the wake of a wave of negative media stories aimed at Mr. Reed.”
Moseley has also denied any wrongdoing and said the lawsuit is frivolous.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.