Metropolis: Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Tony Creme (left) socializes at Republic, a Dallas bar, in Feb. 2004.(Courtesy of D Magazine)
‘Tony never intended to injure or hurt anyone.’
Creme’s New Orleans mugshot.
Alliance for Silence

Battery allegations against a Hillwood exec get no ink from local papers.


When Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Development Corp. hires a new executive, builds a golf course, attracts a new tenant to Alliance Airport, pulls the trigger on one of its many real estate deals, underwrites a charity event, or buys a steer or goat at a stock show, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Fort Worth Business Press duly record it in their pages. In December, at least three different Star-Telegram reporters penned glowing stories on the 15th anniversary of the Alliance development in North Fort Worth. That’s not surprising, since the largest project of the mighty Dallas-based Hillwood is AllianceTexas, spanning 17,000 acres.
But when one of Hillwood’s Fort Worth executives goes to the French Quarter over the New Year’s weekend and gets arrested in connection with an attack on a prominent arts patron, Star-Telegram and Business Press readers, it appears, are left in the lurch.
“That wouldn’t be the kind of thing we would normally report,” Business Press Editor Bill Thompson said. “It’s kind of a police blotter story, and we don’t really do that. We don’t, as a weekly business paper, set out to be the paper of record on everything that happens.” The city’s paper of record is the Star-Telegram. Executive Editor Jim Witt was unavailable for comment.
The attack made news in Dallas, where The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Business Journal published articles about Hillwood Properties marketing director Tony Creme’s arrest (Hillwood Properties is a Fort Worth-based division of Hillwood Development). D Magazine’s “The Front Line” web site kicked the story around. Various blog sites, including Free Republic and Your Right Hand Thief, sashayed into the fray.
The Times-Picayune in New Orleans certainly considered it newsworthy. Articles, columns, and letters to the editor have discussed how retired radiologist Russell Albright was reportedly shoved to the ground on Jan. 2 outside of the storied Galatoire’s Restaurant on Bourbon Street. The altercation occurred on an evening when the city was primed for celebration — more than 77,000 people had flocked to town that weekend to watch the Auburn Tigers and Virginia Tech Hokies play at the Sugar Bowl in the Superdome.
The French Quarter was buzzing on that Sunday evening. As is customary, people were milling on the streets and going in and out of clubs and restaurants, tossing mints and cheap trinkets. A witness told police that Albright tossed a mint onto the table occupied by Creme and his companions, prompting Creme, 28, to follow the 69-year-old Albright out of the restaurant. Police said that witnesses saw Creme shove the older man from behind. Albright apparently fell and struck his head on the pavement, fracturing his skull. He has been hospitalized ever since.
Albright is an avid arts patron and collector, whose home and collection of contemporary photography were featured in January’s edition of House & Garden. An accompanying story said he had “one of the most important photography collections in the South.” Doug MacCash, art critic at The Times-Picayune, called Albright a “magnanimous museum benefactor.”
Steven Maklansky, assistant director for art at New Orleans Museum of Art, said Albright has donated numerous works to the museum. Maklansky described him as a demure man of impeccable manners and dress. “That’s why part of the reaction in this community is one of shock,” he said. “Dr. Albright is a great guy, a generous guy, and a kind guy, and everybody in New Orleans is just stunned as to what happened.”
New Orleans police arrested Creme and booked him on a charge of second-degree battery, a felony punishable on conviction by up to five years in the state prison (and possibly another three years because the victim was over 65). Police Sgt. Paul Accardo said Creme was “still on the scene and witnesses pointed him out; they told the police officers that he was the individual that had pushed the victim down.”
The police sergeant said he wasn’t sure about what led to the incident, only that “some type of argument” occurred inside the restaurant.
Creme was released on his own recognizance by a criminal district judge, and a hearing is set for March 5. The district attorney’s office expects to seek an indictment in a few weeks. “We’re waiting on medical records, and we still have about three more witnesses to interview,” D.A.’s office spokeswoman Leatrice Dupre said.
Witnesses have voluntarily stepped forward, she said. “I’ve had people who have called in ... who were appalled by what they witnessed,” she said. “They hunted me down to make sure that I put them in touch with the right person so they could say what they saw.”
Albright was in a coma for three weeks before regaining consciousness, his attorney, Henry Kinney, said. “We hope that he recovers completely.” Kinney was unsure about what led to the altercation. “You’d have to ask Mr. Creme.”
Reached by telephone at his Hillwood office, Creme said, “I’m not able to comment. I can have you call my attorney if you have any questions.” Creme asked whether an article would appear in Fort Worth Weekly. The reporter confirmed it would, and asked whether Creme objected. “Yes, but I understand that ... well I really can’t say anything,” he said.
Creme, a native of Syracuse, N. Y., began working for Hillwood in 1998. He’s a marketing director in the company’s Fort Worth office and lives in a Dallas townhouse appraised at $231,500. According to news articles, he has participated in local marathons, and twice his photo has appeared in D Scene Online, a web site that covers the Dallas bar scene.
Creme’s attorney, Robert Capitelli, faxed a statement that disputed Times-Picayune articles. “Anthony Creme is an outstanding young man with no prior criminal record whatsoever,” the statement said. “At this point, I have contacted the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office on Anthony’s behalf and we will be totally cooperative with their investigation and evaluation of this matter. I believe a full investigation will show clearly the erroneousness of the Times-Picayune stories. For example, the most recent Times-Picayune article alleges that Tony ‘pushed (Albright) from behind.’ This is totally false and will be proven to be untrue. Tony never intended to injure or hurt anyone. Tony wants to thank all of his friends and family for their tremendous outpouring of support for him and has only requested that they join him in praying for Russell Albright’s speedy and complete recovery.”
A Times-Picayune article quoted a witness, Marc Goodman of Virginia, who said Creme appeared nonchalant about Albright’s injury and afterward returned to the restaurant, sat down at his table, and continued his meal. “He didn’t have any look of concern on his face,” Goodman was quoted as saying. “I would have thought I’d see fear or a ‘What have I done!’ look. But it was a look of ‘Let’s just get this over with.’ ... I didn’t see one person in (Creme’s) party look upset. It was an awful display.”
Restaurant manager Melvin Rodrigue shed no light. “We wish Dr. Albright the best, but we’re not allowed to comment on that,” he said.
Albright’s attorney, Kinney, said that Creme “hasn’t advanced any explanation, much less justification. ... The blanket denial is far short of an explanation, and it doesn’t deny the gist of what occurred.”

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