It’s been a rough few weeks for the vice president of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club. First, Naaman Stewart was the public face of the group as it struggled to explain how and why it got an award of $800,000 in taxpayer money from the city. Now the sheriff is auctioning off his personal property near the Zulu headquarters because he hasn’t made a mortgage payment in the past six months.
His property at 2813-15 Orleans Ave. is to be sold April 15 in an effort to settle his $91,654 debt to U.S. Bank, National Association, plus interest and 25 percent attorney’s fees, according to a legal ad published this week in The Times-Picayune. U.S. Bank got a court order (.pdf) on Dec. 16 forcing the seizure and sale of the property.
Stewart, who lives in LaPlace, said it was “a legal matter” and declined further comment when contacted by The Lens.
The lawyer handling the case for U.S. Bank, Anne Raymond, of the law firm Jackson & McPherson, L.L.C., did not respond to a request for comment.
A visit to the apparently unoccupied house shows that the property is listed for sale by the Keller Williams agency for $89,000, reduced from $99,000, which was its listed price on Dec. 11, 2009 – five days before the judge ordered the seizure.
It first went on the market on May 14, 2008, under a different realtor, for $103,000, later bumped to $117,000 on Nov. 14 that year. The original mortgage, taken out with First Franklin Financial Corporation, was for $92,700. When he went into default in July, he owed $91,654.38.
On the property today, a 2010 Census bag hangs from a doorknob. In the mailbox is a flier from the campaign of failed mayoral candidate John Georges.
Stewart made the news recently when the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club accepted an $800,000 placard check from Mayor Ray Nagin on Lundi Gras, an award from the city’s federally financed Urban Development Action Grant. That amount has since been reduced to $400,000 and identified as a loan, not an outright grant.
When asked about the terms of this award by The Times-Picayune, Stewart replied, “I only know it’s UDAG, and the specifics I don’t have. … We know the acronym, and we know where we applied.”
Whether a grant or loan, the award may have a bearing on the groups unusual non-profit status, which requires it to generate at least 65 percent of its revenue from membership dues.
An ordinance to approve making the loan is pending before City Council, which could consider it as soon as March 25.