“I Have a Choice to Make” says Dave Dangler

Indictment means never returning to States — or returning to face jail time

BY JEFF STRATTON

As I wrote yesterday, I don’t really know Dave Dangler as a West End bar owner — I know him as a father. In that capacity, I’ve always held him in the very highest esteem. The look on his face yesterday — a tortured mask of angst, pain, worry, and anguish — illustrated the horrible toll this has taken on him. That means his kids are feeling it as well, which is a terrible thing.

So, my personal bias is this: no matter what Dave Dangler did or didn’t do, the thought of a father separated from his children is too much for anyone to bear, and I think that’s what this really boils down to. His family means everything to him, from what I’ve seen.

“I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong,” he said as he reached the end of the 14-page indictment. He’s been up against this for almost five years, and his lawyers tell him he can fight it (for about $100,000), but it invariably involves some time behind bars.

“I’ve never been in jail,” Dangler told me. “I’ve never been in trouble.”

Unlike the Haynes case, Dangler was aware of the indictment and it ramifications. He’s testified in front of a grand jury. His lawyers could put together a plea agreement, and he might be able to get off with six months of house arrest in Mississippi.

Then again, a judge could throw that out, and he could end up in a minimum-security prison in Pensacola, Florida, for two years.

“I have a choice to make,” Dangler said yesterday. “They [the US attorney’s office] told me they won’t extradite me. There’s really no reason for me to go back.”

Dangler’s company, 3-D Disaster Services, won a lot of government contacts. With a background in RV sales, Dangler was a perfect candidate to jump into the trailer business. That’s how the Katrina/FEMA thing came about.

Dangler’s primary objection to what’s in the indictment centers around a meeting that took place at the New Orleans Hilton hotel in April of 2006. That’s where Dangler and the other man named in the indictment, Robert Blevins, met and discussed working together.

At the time, Blevins was a FEMA employee and wasn’t supposed to meet with any outside contractor to talk about bidding on government contracts.

Dangler says that Blevins had obtained permission from FEMA ethics officer Paul Conrad. He says he called Conrad and confirmed it.

In the indictment, the government says that’s not true.

“It’s a he-said, she-said,” Dangler said yesterday. “But nothing was done illegally.”

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