A Beaumont electrician alleges several entities – including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Beaumont Independent School District, The Beaumont Enterprise and Beaumont attorney Wayne Reaud – committed acts that cost him a business contract with BISD and has filed a $22 million federal lawsuit.
In court papers filed July 16 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas, Calvin Gary Walker, the proprietor of Walker’s Electric, explains that the defendants worked to end his professional relationship with BISD, insinuating the respondents wrongfully made light of his 2011 federal indictment for fraud.
“These actions are also a violation of Mr. Walker’s civil rights and overt acts in furtherance of a conspiracy,” the suit says.
Also listed as defendants in the case are BISD employees Aaron Covington, Leroy Saleme, Vernon Butler, Jane Kingsley, and Terry Ingram; BISD Board of Trustees members Michael “Mike” Neil and Tom Neild; BISD Board of Managers members Venice Monroe, A.B. Bernard, Jimmy Simmons, Robert Turner, Joe Domino, Lenny Cabarello, and Jack Carroll; The Beaumont Examiner; Beaumont Examiner employees Don Dodd and Jennifer Johnson; Beaumont Enterprise employee Brooke Crum; IBEW Local Union 479; IBEW 479 members Steven Lisle, Dwayne Hermann, Chris Kibby, and David Gonzales; Beaumont attorney Michael Getz; Jefferson County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Cory Crenshaw; United States Attorney Malcolm Bales; SEINVESTIGATES.COM editor Jerry Jordan; and Watchdog.org writer Jon Cassidy.
The suit shows that Walker contracted with BISD to perform electrical work from 2006 to 2008. Walker succeeded IBEW 479, which previously had member companies offer the school district services for 37 years, in securing the agreement to provide with electrical maintenance and repair services.
IBEW 479 invited the plaintiff to join the organization prior to when he started working for the BISD to which he declined, the suit says. Walker states IBEW and IBEW 479 threatened they would “get him one way or another.”
“IBEW, through its local union IBEW 479 and its members, subjected Walker to repercussions as punishment for his failure to join the union,” the suit says. “Such repercussions included defamation, interference with prospective contracts, interference with current contracts, and interference with Mr. Walker’s lawful business activities.”
An investigation conducted by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation into how Walker obtained his Master Electrician License at IBEW 479’s request took place and ended with the plaintiff agreeing to a fine and the relinquishment of his license with the understanding he would be able to immediately get it back without taking the test and using the same hours he had already earned for his old license. Though the complainant regained his license, the suit says, the events surrounding the TDLR’s investigation were used and re-used to harm his reputation.
The BISD Board of Trustees regularly discussed Walker during his stint and reportedly heard negative remarks about him from a few board members. Walker’s contract then expired in 2008, but he was intentionally left out of the bidding process, the suit says.
According to the suit, the school district soon allowed the complainant to submit a bid, however, he was the sole bidder required to turn over proper documentation. The complaint perceives the requisite as racist since the aforementioned contract eventually went to a white union electrical contractor who was purportedly not mandated to submit invoices and receipts.
Walker then became the focus of a 2011 federal indictment for fraud. Faced with 37 counts, he consented to a plea deal from the federal government and agreed to repay his supposedly late taxes.
The suit asserts BISD, its employees, its board of trustees, and The Beaumont Examiner engaged in a smear campaign against Walker. The defendants claimed that the plaintiff was found guilty of defrauding the school district and agreeing to pay back “the money he stole,” neither of which is true, the suit states.
In addition to The Beaumont Examiner, court documents say, the respondents “used their allies” in the Beaumont media – namely the Beaumont Enterprise, SETInvestigates.com and Watchdog.com – to defame Walker. The original petition charges The Beaumont Examiner is involved because of its owner, Reaud.
“This is not surprising given that defendant Wayne Reaud owns and/or controls the Beaumont Examiner, has represented IBEW 479, and is defendant (Jefferson County Court at Law No. 2 Judge Cory) Crenshaw’s godfather,” it says. “Defendant Reaud relied on Don Dodd, a Beaumont Examiner employee, to publish stories furthering the goals of the Conspiracy as to Mr. Walker.”
The suit adds that a “joint task force” was allegedly created at the start of 2014 for the sole purpose of investigating and indicting Walker though the plaintiff was acquitted two years earlier. Walker, whom the States of Texas filed a case against more than a year ago, believes Reaud lent a hand to the prosecution.
Attorney Maria-Vittoria “Giugi” Carminati of the law firm Carminati Law PLLC in Houston is representing the complainant.
Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas Case No. 2:15-CV-1283