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New Orleans, La. -
A FOX 8 News investigation shows a loan that had radio personality Garland Robinette under fire has been paid off.
That loan came from River Birch landfill owner Fred Heebe, who's a key player in Jefferson Parish corruption investigations. The repayment came in the form of a transfer of ownership of a limited liability corporation once owned by Robinette's wife.
Once word came out that Robinette accepted a $250,000 interest-free loan from Heebe, Robinette took to the airwaves, just over a year ago, sounding off against allegations that his opinions were for sale. Robinette criticized River Birch's landfill competitors on the air, but denied the loan had anything to do with that.
"My opinions are not for sale. I would never dishonor your trust," Robinette said.
He also said the loan was from Heebe, whom he called a friend, and was used to build an art studio. And he said a piece of property owned by his wife, Nancy Rhett, was used as collateral.
In fact, the loan came from Westside Construction, a firm owned by Dominick Fazzio. He's the former chief financial officer of River Birch, and he is now under indictment for embezzlement, tax fraud and obstruction of justice.
Documents obtained by FOX 8 show that the property used as collateral is on Riverdale Drive in St Tammany's Tchefuncta Club Estates. It was placed under a limited liability corporation by Rhett in 2011.
Documents show that, in May 2012, Rhett transferred ownership of the LLC to Westside Construction. Fazzio now has the property listed at a value of $235,000.
Fazzio's attorney, Buddy Lemann, tells FOX 8, "It's his understanding it's a repayment of the loan."
Robinette's attorney, Lewis Unglesby, agrees. "The documents show that the loan is paid in full and the property fully collateralized the loan," Unglesby told us.
Unglesby says there was never any agreement for Robinette to talk bad about Heebe's landfill competitors, and says Robinette took the loan because of throat problems and concerns that he may need to paint more, since his broadcasting career was in jeopardy.
It's unclear as to how the money will be transferred from Fazzio to his former boss, but a source tells FOX 8 there will likely be other transactions to come.
Federal court documents called Westside Construction a sham company.
Robinette's attorney says he did in fact build an art studio and he brought his health problems under control. His broadcasting career continues.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:07 AM EDT2014-09-02 14:07:52 GMT
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