DeRosier and Palermo accuse each other of breaching plea agreeme - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

DeRosier and Palermo accuse each other of breaching plea agreement

Joseph R. Palermo Jr. (KPLC Archives) Joseph R. Palermo Jr. (KPLC Archives)

A new twist in the legal drama involving Sulphur businessman Joe Palermo.

In 2015, Palermo entered into a plea deal with the state in which he agreed to pay more than a million dollars- and the state dismissed a 13-count indictment against him.

Yet now each side said the other has breached the agreement and it's led to a whole new series of court hearings.

The criminal investigation of Palermo dates back to 2014 when the Louisiana State Police and the Attorney General's Office served search warrants on Palermo businesses as they investigated allegations of illegal business activity such as racketeering, money laundering and possible violation of gaming laws.

By February 2015, a 13 count indictment against Palermo was returned, but it was sealed and he took a plea deal that included Palermo paying $1.2 million over several years. 

Calcasieu D.A. John DeRosier said Palermo has not kept up payments and so, has breached the agreement.

Yet attorney Karl Koch said Palermo may not have to pay because DeRosier and the D.A'.s office breached the agreement by continuing to investigate Palermo.

"This was to be the end of the fight between Palermo and the state, yet the state had continued secretly to try to investigate Mr. Palermo on these already disposed of charges," said Koch.

Each adamantly deny any breach.

 "We have not investigated Palermo for any criminal activity since he pled guilty in February of 2015. It is a ruse. It is a illegitimate claim and I think his lawyers know it is not a legitimate claim," said DeRosier.  

In East Baton Rouge Parish, Palermo is suing DeRosier and the DA's office to, in DeRosier's words, not only to keep from paying the rest of the money but also:

"Now asking for his $800,000 back claiming that they did not know the specifics of what Mr. Palermo was indicted for when we indicted him for racketeering and money laundering and those things," said DeRosier. 

DeRosier said Palermo attorneys were well aware of charges Palermo faced when they advised him to take the deal and says the state needs the 13 count indictment unsealed to defend against the suit.

"We were indicting him for some very serious felonies that could have put him in the penitentiary," said DeRosier.

Yet Palermo attorneys oppose unsealing.

"This is a dismissed case with bogus charges. I don't know of a single person in the world that would choose to have something like that made public. In any event, a deal's a deal," said Koch.

Judge Ron Ware refused to unseal the indictment finding it's part of a binding agreement between the state and the defense.

Palermo was not in court for the hearing.

KPLC and the American Press have made a request to the court that the indictment be unsealed.

There will be a hearing on that at 10 a.m. June 12 before Judge Ware.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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