C-P Councilman Shelvin pays off another debt

by Leslie Turk

Stacie Durham was heading to the Lafayette Police Department yesterday when she got a call from Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin. Shelvin was ready to pay up.

Stacie Durham was heading to the Lafayette Police Department yesterday when she got a call from Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin.

Durham had just collected all of her records for the vehicle she purchased from Shelvin and financed through the Lafayette Schools' Federal Credit Union. "I was going to take my chances again and go to the police department," Durham told The INDsider early yesterday afternoon, explaining that she tried to report Shelvin to local police last summer but was told by a sergeant that her matter was civil, not criminal. "They wouldn't allow me to file a report," Durham says.

But when Durham walked out of the credit union office, she had 12 missed calls on her cell phone. Shelvin (and others he'd enlisted for help) was desperately seeking her. "He called me, and he apologized, and he just said if you're willing to settle this right now, I'm willing to pay you everything I owe you and I'm truly sorry. He caught me in the nick of time."

As reported in this week's Independent Weekly cover story, "The Problem with Brandon Shelvin," Durham, a school bus driver, has been trying since June to recover the tax, title and license fees she paid Shelvin when she purchased a 2005 Chevy Avalanche in February 2009. Durham paid the fees when she financed the car, but the check Shelvin wrote to the state Department of Public Safety to cover the fees was returned NSF. On June 9 Durham was notified by the department that because the taxes and fees had not been paid, her commercial driver's license would be suspended.

On Sept. 28, Durham filed a small claims petition against Shelvin, asking for $4,500 ($1,649 for the fees, $60 to reinstate her license and the balance for repairs she had to make on the car when major problems developed within a few months of buying it). Yesterday Shelvin met her at a local bank with the cash and purchased a cashier's check for $4,500, which Durham promptly cashed. "I'm a happy camper," she says.

Collin Castille of Castille Financial Services, which sued Shelvin in November for defaulting on a $8,300 personal loan he took out in August 2009 and was supposed to repay in October, isn't as lucky. In January Castille went to Shelvin's home and was paid $500. "He came in again [to Castille's office] after that and said he would pay another $500, but he never did," Castille says. Shelvin had since not been taking his calls -- until today.

"We made some preliminary arrangements to pay back small amounts at a time," Castille told The INDsider after talking with Shelvin this morning. Really, that's all we talked about," Castille says. "He's supposed to make some payments when he can. We discussed some dates. The whole amount, I'm not looking for it to be paid off any time soon."

The Independent Weekly's cover story also examined whether Shelvin was ever even legally eligible to run for the city-parish council in District 3, based on information that he was living in District 2 at the time he qualified for the race. This morning Walter Guillory of the Lafayette Housing Authority confirmed that Shelvin's girlfriend, Justine Sampy, was terminated from the Section 8 housing assistance program in July 2008 after his staff investigated a complaint that Shelvin was living in the house in violation of the contract with LHA. The home is located at 113 St. Bernadette Drive in District 2.

Sampy began receiving financial assistance from LHA in 2003; since mid-2007 the housing authority was paying $728 a month for Sampy to live on St. Bernadette; the balance of the rent, $172, was being paid by Shelvin with a personal check, according to the landlord's records. The landlord, CPA Ike Merchant, notified the LHA that Shelvin was living in the home with Sampy, her children and the couple's baby in violation of both the lease and LHA contract.

"The [staff] recommendation to me was that she would get placed off the program," Guillory says. "There could have been other reports of people calling [in complaints] as well."

Merchant claims Shelvin lived in the house with Sampy from June 2007 until July 2008. If true, Shelvin did not meet the residency requirement to run in District 3 and violated the charter by continuing to live outside of the district after he was elected, despite that by then he owned a home on Monarch Drive in District 3.

So how has Shelvin suddenly come into enough money to pay off tens of thousands of dollars in debt? His obligation to warranty company EasyCare, which he paid off Tuesday, was likely in the neighborhood of $20,000. That's money people paid him for automobile warranties that he never forwarded to the company.

We tried to ask him this morning, but he still isn't returning our phone calls.