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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Journalist Upbraided for Haitian Minister Lies

MIAMI - A federal judge permanently barred a Haitian-American journalist from ever reporting in the future about the Caribbean nation's prime minister, Laurent Lamothe.

In a federal complaint, Lamothe and Florida businessman Patrice Baker claimed that they were defamed by Leo Joseph and the Haiti-Observateur Group.

They claimed that Joseph and his company began spreading lies about them with articles that appeared in August and September 2012 on haiti-observateur.net.

In awarding the plaintiffs default judgment, U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro noted that Joseph improperly reported that Lamothe and Baker had profited from the $25 million sale of the telecommunications company, Haitel, by and through their affiliations with the Haitian government.

Joseph did not have any basis to report that Lamothe compelled Haitel's sale by utilizing the electoral victory of Haitian president Michel Martelly.

In addition to falsely reporting that Lamothe would receive the "lion's share" of the proceeds, Joseph also misreported that Lamothe had exerted pressure on Nord Citadel Capital LLC to begin issuing payments for the purchase of Haitel.

He also defamed Lamothe as a partner of the firm SOWCI, which is gaining 14 cents on each minute of international call.

"Defendant's statements made in the website and through its article are entirely false and conjured to destroy the reputations of Baker and Lamothe," Ungaro wrote.

"Defendant's statements were made with actual malice.

"Plaintiffs have succeeded on the merits oftheir defamation claim."

The ruling permanently restrains Joseph "from publishing future communications to any third-parties concerning or regarding the plaintiffs in either their professional, personal or political lives."

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