A five-year investigation and prosecution of former Baton Rouge brokerage owner Gary L. Seale ended Monday at a rural residence near Zachary when Seale allegedly pointed a gun at authorities, who fatally shot him.
Seale, 58, was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2010 for allegedly using his BIS Business Brokers to divert about $500,000 of his clients’ money to his own use. He had received government subpoenas for business records since 2007, one of his attorneys told a federal judge at a hearing in 2010.
Col. Lawrence McLeary, a spokesman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, said Monday that deputies responded at 10:30 a.m. to a reported shooting at 12580 Milldale Road.
McLeary said sheriff’s investigators then reported that deputies of the U.S. Marshals Service had fired the shots that killed Seale.
Seale failed to appear at a federal court hearing at 9 a.m. Monday in Baton Rouge. He had been scheduled to plead guilty to at least one of the 13 charges pending against him, according to an April 25 court filing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan A. Stevens.
Visiting U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter, of Shreveport, inherited the case after the death last year of Chief U.S. District Judge Ralph E. Tyson. Walter issued a bench warrant Monday for Seale’s arrest.
“We came out here to (serve) the warrant,” U.S. Marshal Kevin Harrison said. “He (Seale) was outside, and he started walking toward the barn.
“He knew he was being looked for,” Harrison said, before adding that Seale “pulled a gun on my guys, and my guys responded accordingly.”
No deputy marshals were injured in the confrontation, Harrison said.
Seale was pronounced dead by the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, McLeary said.
The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting at Harrison’s request, McLeary added.
Law enforcement agencies often ask unrelated agencies to investigate such shootings, McLeary explained, “to make sure that the public is assured everything is done properly and objectively.”
Added McLeary: “It’s much easier if you just call in an outside agency. There is no hint of impropriety.”
The residence and barn near where Seale was killed are at the end of a white gravel driveway, which is several hundred yards off Milldale Road. A number of other houses and a mobile home line that gravel driveway.
“He was a good neighbor,” Dot Robertson, who lives in one of the houses, said of Seale. “He was all right to me.”
That stretch of Milldale Road features houses and mobile homes of various sizes on huge lots with Bermuda grass that is maintained uniformly short. It’s an area that appears tidy and clean.
Robertson said she has lived off that road for more than 50 years.
“This was such a shock,” she said. “Nothing bad happens out here. You never expect anything like this.”
Although Seale had spent some time at the residence off Milldale recently, Robertson said, “He doesn’t really live here. He lived in Port Allen, I think.
“I didn’t know what he did,” Robertson added. “He had a business, I think.”
Robertson said she was aware that Seale had some business problems, but she emphasized: “He was a good neighbor. He didn’t bother anybody.”
Those business problems had haunted Seale for years, court records show.
Former Zachary Mayor Henry John Martinez alleged in his personal bankruptcy case in 2008 that Seale and one of Seale’s firms owed him $375,000. And the bankruptcy trustee in that case eventually won a judgment of $114,000 against Seale.
By 2010, the list of law enforcement agencies investigating Seale included the IRS, FBI, Louisiana State Police and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General, according to a 2010 statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
And one of Seale’s disgruntled clients said Monday that he won a civil judgment against Seale, but was never able to collect on it.
“He has not paid a penny on it,” Zachary resident George Norwood said Monday immediately after the court hearing that Seale didn’t attend.
“He cost me approximately $160,000,” Norwood said.
Norwood, 58, said he suffers from a degenerative disc disease and his wife has pulmonary fibrosis.
“We live on $2,000 a month from my Social Security disability check,” Norwood said.
Frank Holthaus was Seale’s lead attorney.
Holthaus said a conviction on the charges in Seale’s indictment could have sent the businessman to federal prison for more than 20 years.
“He recently signed off on an agreement that would have meant a prison sentence of slightly more than four years,” Holthaus added.
Walter, the judge, tacked an addendum onto his bench warrant for Seale’s arrest, Holthaus noted. He said the judge directed that Seale be held in a place “where he would receive treatment and consultation.”
But the defense attorney said Seale had become extremely sad.
“We spoke this morning several times,” Holthaus said. “He just was sad and felt like he couldn’t find a strong enough ray of hope. When I spoke to him, he was already … tearful.”
Holthaus said he called Seale shortly after he failed to appear before Walter.
Holthaus said Seale promised him “he would call me back. He never called me back.”
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