Louisiana Law Enforcement Theater
Published November 3, 2016
Bad Guys on Center Stage… Dim the Lights... Turn off the Camera…. Pull the Curtain
If the last year was comparable to a Dark Comedy in Iberia Parish and a Dark Dark Drama in Lafayette, then in Vermilion Parish we got us a full blown Horror Show. There has always been a dark veil of coonass paranoia over Vermilion in large part due to the Vermilion Parish Sheriff Department. The unwritten law behind a VPSO badge is- “it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know that matters”. If you are pals with Sheriff Couvillon’s inner circle there is no other law that applies to you. These are the qualifications that the voters in Vermilion considered when they chose to vote Sheriff Couvillon back into office for his third term, one year ago.
Everyone knows that Sheriff Michael Couvillon is the most powerful man in Vermilon Parish and it is his veil of intimidation that keeps information restricted to rumor mills and private conversation. Social media is Vermilion’s most prevalent form of community awareness, it seems few people will read a newspaper unless their picture is in it. What everyone knows for sure is that you can NOT cross Sheriff Couvillon, or anyone in his inner circle, without suffering the consequences of a social media character assassination.
In fact, Facebook is the most effective communication tool in Vermilion, aside from Topix. It is no secret that Col Frith is a social media whore who spends much of his time surfing the internet and posting dis-information or anonymous incendiary comments. He is particularly adept at character assassinations against anyone who crosses the VPSO inner circle.
The VPSO is so dependent on social media that they use it as a prominent source for criminal investigations. For example, Deputy Sonya Lewis Couvillon requested assistance from the Lafayette Sheriff to arrest me after her keen investigative skills concluded that I’d be in town. All I had to do was throw out a rumor on Topix, and dontchya know, that is serious evidence as far as the VPSO is concerned. The LPSO laughed at her and then told Deputy Sonya to get lost because I was 2200 miles away from Lafayette. But it isn’t entirely Deputy Sonya Lewis Couvillon’s fault for being an incompetent investigator because she has no respectable qualifications to work at the VPSO in the first place.
During last year’s election, Sheriff Couvillon was fending off several ethics complaints, one of which was his adulterous relationship with Sonya Lewis, who he hired as a Deputy after they began their hot and heavy affair. The arrangement was well thought out in advance. After two years of Sonya’s employment the Sheriff divorced his wife and then married his girlfriend / employee - Sonya Lewis, hence, Sonya Lewis Couvillon.
The animosity among the deputies of the VPSO bubbled under the surface while Deputy Sonya Lewis Couvillon received every award, raise and promotion available to her. She was promoted over LEO professionals with decades of exemplary service and experience. A lot of people noticed and complained that the Sheriff was guilty of nepotism.
A review of the situation shows that it is not considered nepotism if the Sheriff marries an employee who has worked at the VPSO for at least two years. As you can see, the Sheriff and his girlfriend/ wife/ employee did a very good job executing Mike Couvillon’s pre-meditated divorce. No act of nepotism meant that there were no ethics violations regarding the numerous promotions and raises awarded to Mrs Sheriff Sonya Lewis Couvillion.
Among the many ethics complaints against Sheriff Couvillon, there was a serious allegation regarding a Conflict of Interest inside the VPSO. The accusation of a conflict has been mentioned by several people inside and out of the VPSO for eight years or more, it was nothing new for Couvillon’s campaign. The perceived conflict of interest continues to linger due to the business entanglements between Colonel Kirk Frith and USK9 Unlimited, a profit generating business in Kaplan. The owner of USK9 Unlimited is Roger Abshire, who has long business ties with Col Frith and the VPSO in general. The fact that the VPSO purchases most, if not all, of their K9 officers from Roger Abshire is not that surprising since Roger is credited for producing quality K9s for use by law enforcement around the world.
However, when Col Kirk Frith uses his VPSO status to promote Roger Abshire while they share a profit selling dogs to the VPSO and across the globe, THIS IS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST by most standards.
In the middle of the Sheriff’s campaign, June 28, 2015, just as these conflict of interest concerns were gaining traction with the voters, the local newspaper ran a front page article with the headline: 'USK9 earns more world-wide attention, training dogs for Kuwaiti company'. The article included a picture of Col Frith with a quote that said, “Although I own no stake or shares in USK9, my role in this company over the years has been one of professional guidance to a very close friend”
However, when asked, Roger Abshire said Col Frith owned “about 20%” of USK9 Unlimited, which is in Kaplan, the same town where Kirk Frith lives with his family. My bet is that 20% brings in big $$$ for the Frith family. The VPSO Colonel is also present during graduation ceremonies for the countless graduates that finish USK9 Unlimited training programs. Frith lectures the “need for fellowship and camaraderie in this line of work”. The graduations are usually quite formal and Col Frith is usually in his VPSO uniform. On occasion, Sheriff Couvillon will also come to the graduation ceremonies, however, he never wears a uniform. I’m not sure that he owns one.
The Law Enforcement K9s in Vermilion cost between $14,500 and $19,000 for a multi-purpose dog that can do both, locate drugs and apprehend a criminal. A single purpose dog is half that cost, and then it costs extra to train and certify a handler for each dog. There is a lot of money in the K9 biz and when Col Frith declared that he was only doing Roger Abshire a favor (while in uniform and sharing a profit) – Frith’s words didn’t really satisfy any suspicions of a conflict of interest, however, the voters didn’t cave to their suspicions or hold Sheriff Couvillon accountable and Sheriff Couvillon won the election.
A lot has happened on the K9 front since the election one year ago. In June, 2016, the internet went viral with a tragic story regarding K9’s in Kuwait, the first time I heard about it was from Roger Abshire’s facebook page. The accusations that Abhsire was posting got my curiosity up and when my curiosity gets lit up I try to educate myself on the facts. I’ve spent a lot of time doing that and now I’ll tell you what.
After the picture of 24 dead K9’s inside a Kuwaiti oil refinery went viral on facebook, I started making phone calls because the story behind the pictures didn’t add up for me. One reason was because of how aggressive Roger Abshire was on social media. He was doing his best to promote the tragic story wanting everyone to know about it. And, of course, wanting people to know that he wasn’t involved with any of it.
That was a big red flag for me because Roger Abshire, Col Kirk Frith and USK9 Unlimited have a very long history with dogs in Kuwait. They’ve trained numerous dogs and their handlers to protect the oil refineries. Specifically for Ali Al-Obaid, a representative of the Kuwaiti government where the oil refineries are all government owned. It was hard to believe that Roger and Kirk would have ‘nothing to do with it’ so I got to work trying to satisfy my own curiosity and suspicion
There are at least three well known professional and certified dog schools around the Kaplan area who work in all areas of police dog training. But when Roger Abshire began viciously attacking his competitor, claiming he was defending himself, I started to wonder if Roger Abshire had a guilty conscience.
Roger Abshire said he feared the facebook post was implicating him because of this sentence:
24 of their US K9 dogs whom were trained by USK9 dog training facility which is located in Louisiana, USA.
As I mentioned, there are at least three US K9 dog training facilities near Kaplan, Louisiana. And when you think about the fact that the original post (here) was written by an English second language Kuwaiti national, I can’t buy Abshire’s explanation that he feared being mis-identified due to a missing <space> equivalent to a typo. Keep in mind that ULK9, LAK9 and USK9 are all practically neighbors in Louisiana and they all three are US K9 dog training facilities in Louisiana. Knowing that social media is the primary source of any dis-information in Vermilion, Roger Abshire’s attacks against his neighbors, the ones he competes with for business in Kuwait, well, for me it was looking a lot like one more character assassination coming from the VPSO. They use the same social media tactic every time and it doesn’t take much to provoke them.
At first glance, the posts and reposts of the K9 tragedy appeared to be a dismal miscarriage of humanity. The pictures showed a pile of 24 dead K9s stacked up on top of each other, the post claimed they were “massacred” because the security company that owned the dogs lost their contract with Kuwait National Petroleum Company, (KNPC). The post, written by a Kuwait Animal Rescue Unit, claimed that KNPC paid $9900 a month for each dog. A lawyer active with animal rights, Esmail Al Misri, filed a complaint in Kuwait on behalf of the workers. The post went on to say that the dogs were abused and held in inhumane conditions.
I told you this would be a horror show.
I realized that if I was going to appease my curiosity, then I would have to look into who Roger Abshire’s competitors are in Kuwait. And what I learned is that they aren’t so much competitors as they are business partners. Well, until recently, that is.
The relationship began years ago when Roger Abshire and Col Kirk Frith teamed up with Bill Baisey and Tony Touchet as co-contractors with Eastern Securites (ES). A non-compete agreement existed between USK9 Unlimited and Eastern Securities where Roger Abshire was forbidden to enter contract in Kuwait without Eastern Securities. As a sub-contractor, Roger Abshire would supply the trained K9s and handlers for security at KNPC’s oil refineries while Eastern Securities managed the project in Kuwait. All four of the business men involved with the arrangement are neighbors in Louisiana, relatively speaking. But it was Bill Baisey, a Kuwait national who lives in Lafayette, that was able to evolve the relationship with KNPC which lead to their co-contract with USK9 Unlimited. Roger Abshire and Col Frith resented being dependent on anyone that they considered to be mere middlemen and they have tried to cut Bill Baisey and Tony Touchet out of the deal ever since. And they got a lot of help with that objective this year, thanks to their pal Furaij Al Furaij.
A number of employees used for fulfilling the Eastern Securities KNPC contract were recruited by Roger Abshire and Col Frith from the Philipines. Master trainer Roger Abshire certified the dogs and handlers for the project while Col Kirk Frith attended all of the graduations. Now here we are, and Roger Abshire along with Col Anonymous are using social media to conduct a smear campaign against their one time close business partners.
So… what is the real story behind those 24 dead K9s on KNPC patrol?
After the tragedy, Roger Abshire took center stage to distance himself as far away as he could from Bill Baisey and Tony Touchet. He said over and over that USK9 Unlimited cut all ties with Eastern Securities way back in 2008. Abshire claimed he severed the relationship because Baisey wouldn’t pay what he owed to USK9 Unlimited, however, it was Bill Baisey who severed the contract after Col Frith went to Kuwait and tried to negotiate with KNPC behind Baisey’s back, therefore, breaking his non-compete agreement. It is very disturbing that Col Frith showed up in Kuwait wearing a VPSO uniform while illegally misrepresenting himself as an Official of the US Government. Later, it was Abshire who begged Bill Baisey for another chance to conduct business in Kuwait and he blamed Kirk Frith for stepping out of bounds with their no-compete agreement.
I spent weeks trying to get Roger Abshire or Col Frith on the phone to no-avail. When I asked to talk to the Colonel at VPSO headquarters, he wouldn’t take my call, perhaps he was sitting at his desk wringing his hands because Furaij Al Furaij was staying as his guest in his home when I called. Multiple messages were left for the Colonel, I was specific by letting him know that I was hoping he could level set my understanding regarding the K9 tragedies in Kuwait.
Nobody ever called me back so I had to keep digging. My gut feeling kept telling me that something was very amiss with this K9 tragedy and it wasn’t too surprising when I found evidence that proved I was right.
Vermilion Today News: Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009,
USK9 Unlimited Training Academy held its third international training academy, graduating five Kuwaitis after successful completion of an intense three-month program, where the K9s and Handlers are certified under the standards of training developed by USK9 founder and Master Trainer, Roger Abshire.
Col. Kirk Frith (Chief Deputy Vermilion Parish Sheriff) was the Master of ceremonies and spoke about the success of USK9, the importance of the graduates loyalty to their employer and their country~
Present at the ceremonies was Sheriff Mike Couvillon, Chief Rick Coleman, Mayor pro-temp Francis Plaisance, Nidal Balbeisi, and Ali Amed Al-Obaid, a representative of the Kuwait government who flew in especially for the ceremony. [ A Kuwait national named Furaij Al Furaij was a graduate ]
This article is evidence that Roger Abshire was being untruthful about cutting ties with Eastern Securities in 2008 because, obviously, USK9 Unlimited was still launching new and bigger projects with Eastern Securities in 2009. In my efforts to contact Bill Baisey, I learned that his brother, Nidal Balbeisi, was a very well respected restaurant entrepreneur in Lafayette. When I read that news article, I recognized Nidal’s name and decided to track him down. We had a brief and friendly chat but he would only give me a short quote for this chapter which, I personally found very motivating.
In the end of the day there is only one thing that will come out - THE TRUTH!
With Truth as my motivation, I spent days on end building networks, making phone calls, gathering facts as well as several confidential sources from Louisiana all the way to Kuwait. I was interested to learn more about a Kuwaiti national named Furaij who was an employee of Eastern Securities and was trained as a handler at USK9 Unlimited in 2009. I learned that KNPC would not allow Furaij to be promoted because he lacked the education. Eastern Securities offered to pay for his continued education requirements but, instead, Furaij went to Kaplan, Louisiana, to receive his Master Trainer certificate. Just like that, Furaij became a certified Coonass K9 Master Trainer just like Roger Abshire. After speaking to persons who worked with Furaij in Kuwait, I decided he couldn’t be a credible source, nobody trusted him in Kuwait so I didn’t bother to finish tracking him down.
Several excuses were made about why - and how – twenty four K9’s could be destroyed at once. One of the hints came from the Kuwaiti National Petroleum Company who said: they canceled the contract [with Eastern Securities] because a third party tested the dogs’ ability to detect hidden explosives at oil rigs and the dogs did not pass the tests.
It was actually Eastern Securities who hired a third party to test the K9s abilities to detect explosives. I believe they were considered to be a Third Party because they weren’t employed by either Roger Abshire or Bill Baisey. The third party told me that “four… maybe it was five dogs” that failed out of the 60 that were tested. When the third party arrived at the Kuwait dog facility, early May 2016, the workers told them that Roger Abshire and Col Kirk Frith had been at the facility with Furaij, only two weeks earlier. During the same time when Eastern Securities lost their contract with KNPC.
In a statement made by the Animal rights lawyer, Esmail Al Misri, who made the official complaint to the Kuwait authorities regarding the K9 tragedy, Misri said it was "the workers who killed the hounds” [the end of June, 2016,] because they had not been paid for two months after the firm's contract with KNPC ended.
A Facebook page was created about the K9 tragedy trying to annihilate Eastern Securities with disturbing claims of abuse. The page was allegedly started by a former employee, who said she worked for the company for five months in 2014. An article in the NY Post said they got their information from facebook and then quoted Amy Swope, as an American who worked for Eastern Securities in Kuwait from July to November of 2014. And so, I contacted Amy Swope to see what she could teach me.
These are her most valuable paragraphs from our email discussion.
Also, like arms dealing, some vendors sell to both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” indiscriminately, because after all, the vendor is not responsible for what the buyer does with the dog. I am not saying Roger does this, because I honestly have no idea about his business.
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It’s a sad way to look at the sale of living creatures who would die for their handlers, but at the end of the day, it is a business like any other. This is why I, personally, have left this line of work.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Please let me know if you have anymore questions. If my words are twisted in any way inside your article, I will blast this email and exactly what it says all over social media. Sorry, but I need you to know ahead of time that I do not appreciate being mis-quoted or my words taken out of context.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It is a simple story, really. There’s not really much to it. I’m sorry to disappoint you… there’s really nothing shady about this except that Bill [Baisey] is a terrible businessman.
Read the full email string between Amy and I by clicking here
Her personal resume says that Amy Swope is, or was, a consultant and CEO of Blue Ridge Canine Services working as a Coordinator for a K9 Retirement Program in Faber, Virginia. In my opinion, Amy took the tragedy in Kuwait very personally wishing she could have provided a retirement for the dogs instead of putting up with what she already knew was “a business like any other” and that’s exactly why she says she left that line of work. In my opinion, she raced to a conclusion that fit her own expectations of what she wished the K9 business was like. Of course, Amy made many more allegations against Eastern Securities other than just K9 genocide. But ever since our email conversation, Amy Swope’s LinkedIN account and most of the history on her personal resume’ have been taken offline. Even her facebook page against Eastern Securities has the following post
I am leaving this exit post as a "Thank You" to all who have supported this mission. I have deleted much of this page because it has served its purpose. Because of your voices and social media, we have raised awareness about the darkness of the private contract working dog industry.
You can read the rest of the post by clicking here.
We’ve all heard Roger Abshire’s side of this story over and over and over, although, he has scrubbed his website and facebook page of any mention of it. It really wasn’t any big surprise when Col Kirk Frith and the entire VPSO dodged my calls all month, especially since Furaij Al Furaij was Col Frith’s house guest when I called the first time.
To be honest, I really don’t think anyone will know for sure the whole Truth until the Balbeisi’s tell their side of this story. And I hope someday they will share it, because as Nidal said, at the end of the day only one thing matters, and that’s the Truth.
When my gut feeling kept telling me that something was very amiss with this K9 tragedy what I found was that my intuition was spot on. My own conclusion is that Furaij Al Furaij instigated a KNPC coup against Eastern Securities with the intention of cutting out the middle man for Roger Abshire and Col Kirk Frith. You can go to facebook and see that Furaij is still very close friends with Roger Abshire and Col Frith where he calls both of them “Boss”. It can not be a coincidence that KNPC canceled their contract with Eastern Securities while Roger Abshire and Col Frith were in Kuwait with their host, Furaij. Standard security policy at KNPC does not allow cameras on their property, however, the photo of 24 dead K9s stacked in a pile was taken from inside KNPC and the first person to receive that photo was Furaij. The second person to receive that photo out of Kuwait was Roger Abshire. In the photo, two of Furaij’s friends are smiling beside the pile of dead dogs. Presumably, on my part, the K9’s were supposed to be part of the contract transfer where USK9 Unlimited would provide maintenance training for the dogs that were already working. And as stated by the Kuwaiti lawyer, Mr Misri, who was at the scene in Kuwait, he said there was an employee revolt that resulted in the destruction of the dogs. The social media whores of the US, who were not at the scene, insisted that Bill Baisey gave the order to kill the K9s. Let me assure you that the order to kill $200,000 worth of K9s did not come from Bill Baisey or Tony Touchet. My guess is that Furaij ordered the kill so that USK9 Unlimited could have opportunity to charge the replacement costs of 24 K9s.
The guilty party in this horror show are the instigators of the KNPC coup against Eastern Securities who were not sensitive to the Kuwait business culture. Understand, when you give your word in Kuwait, that’s no coonass handshake. In Kuwait, your word is as good as your soul.
On the other hand, by coonass standards, a viral horror story like this could destroy the competition. All they needed to do was spin the story so that it seemed like the dogs had been massacred by an evil and greedy Eastern Securities. And of course, cover all tracks of involvement by Abshire, Frith and Furaij.
If Roger Abshire’s facebook post hadn’t scrolled past my eyes, I would never have noticed the story. My curiosity would have never kicked in and I wouldn’t have been able to know for sure whether or not Col Kirk J Frith and the VPSO have a conflict of interest with Roger Abshire and USK9 Unlimited.
Now, I know for sure.
The show is over, Folks.
Leo Theater Act Four was finally published two years late.
You can read it now by clicking here