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Lots of finger-pointing and yet, no one – and everyone – is to blame for the release of a man convicted in Ascension Parish of murder.

Everyone from the local district attorney to state officials in Baton Rouge to a sheriff in northeast Louisiana has been accused of being asleep at the wheel when Michael “Ma-Man” (seriously, can you think of a less original nickname?) LeBlanc was turned out of jail because his sentencing was “overlooked” for five years?

Wow. Talk about the unqualified leading the inept into the abyss…

At the same time, a sheriff’s deputy who was clocking along at 85 mph when he rear-ended a stalled vehicle, killing a mother of four, has entered a plea of no contest after being charged with careless operation when John Q. Public would in all probability have been arrested for negligent homicide.

The presiding 21st Judicial District judge slapped Winburn with a 10-day parish prison sentence, suspended, of course, on condition that the deputy fork over $300 in fines. DA Scott Perrilloux’s office noted that $300 is the standard fine in careless operation cases. He neglected to inform us as to the penalty for killing another driver.

When DEPUTY CORY WINBURN crashed into the car being driven by Christinia Estave, 33, on July 15, it was the second time he had rear-ended another driver. The first one resulted in a lawsuit that was subsequently dismissed (we take care of our own in Livingston Parish – provided you have the right connections). In 2018, Sheriff Jason Ard fired Winburn but rehired him in 2020 after he spent about a year in exile, working for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.

What makes the Winburn case even more curious is that for nearly a month after Estave’s death, Ard steadfastly refused to release any information about the accident – not even Winburn’s identity. Ard has never explained his secrecy surrounding the accident.

We don’t even know for certain if Winburn has his emergency lights on at the time. He was said to be responding to a call about a shooting around 1 a.m. when the collision occurred. Is there dash cam footage? We just don’t know.

We do know that neither driver was wearing a seat belt, a violation considered even more severe on Winburn’s part since law enforcement officials, who routinely conduct seat belt checks on civilian drivers in Livingston Parish, are, or should be, held to a higher standard. After all, they do set the bar, in theory, anyway.

But returning to the issue of where’s Waldo LeBlanc? Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre would like to know but he has split for parts unknown after failing to show for a required 48-hour check-in with his parole officer. So, Webre got a piece of paper called a warrant. That’ll show him.

Department of Corrections officials in Baton Rouge said that without the formal procedure of sentencing by the court, the state had no legal authority to hold him. Natalie LaBorde, executive counsel for DOC, said LeBlanc was looking at mandatory life in prison for his 2014 second-degree murder conviction. But when a sentence is not imposed, she said constitutional- and statutorily-imposed structure, calls for the state agency to take control of a prisoner, but not until sentencing has been imposed. Because that had not taken place, she said state corrections officials had no legal authority to hold him once he completed a sentence for a previous gun possession conviction, also in Ascension Parish.

Confusing? You bet. But it gets better.

Once he completed the gun possession sentence in May, he was turned over to the custody of Madison Parish jailers and once he received credit for time owed in that parish (he seems to have been rather busy in his spree), he was released.

Ricky Babin, district attorney for the 23rd Judicial District, which includes the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, and St. James, laid the blame at the feet of state corrections officials for failing to process paperwork from Ascension, a responsibility LaBorde had already swatted aside.

Nope, said Babin, even sans sentencing, Ascension paper, aka a detainer, should have kept LeBlanc in the custody of state officials if state officials had only followed their own procedures. “If he has a detainer…they should send him back to the parish prison in which he’s detained.

But Madison Parish officials, who hold many state inmates, had the Ascension detainer and when the errant LeBlanc was transferred to Riverbend Detention Center to face the Madison charges after the state gun charge sentence ended, it was up to local authorities who run that jail to follow the detainer, state official said, deftly slipping Ascension’s counter jab.

Now it really gets dicey because East Carroll, which sits atop Madison in extreme northeast Louisiana, actually houses Madison Parish’s pre-trial defendants but for some reason that remains unclear (naturally), did not do so and released LeBlanc.

The trail grows cold there, however, because East Carroll Parish Sheriff Wydette Williams was not available for comment. (With a name like Wydette, I’d probably be unavailable, too.)

So, there you have it: a couple of examples of our fine system of justice hard at work to serve and protect.

I hope this has cleared everything up for you.

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Good Gawd, y’all!

As if Louisiana needed another public embarrassment what with the sub-par rankings on all the economic surveys, Sen. John Kennedy had to go and give a campaign speech on behalf of Herschel Walker in Georgia.

Damn! Wasn’t it enough that LSU had to be humbled by Georgia? Did you have to go there and validate Georgians’ conviction that Louisiana is inferior in not only economics and football, but political leadership as well?

Our only hope to salvage some shred of dignity now is for the hapless Saints to defeat Atlanta again this year when the Falcons come calling on Dec. 18.

I know the Repugnantcans are desperate for a win in the Senate to keep the Dems from going up by a 51-49 score. Their only hope for a 50-50 tie is for “China bad air” Walker to upset incumbent Raphael Warnock in tomorrow’s runoff.

But good Gawd, y’all, what in the name of vampires and werewolves did “Randy Quaid wannabe” Foghorn Leghorn Kennedy have to gain by appearing on behalf of “sheriff deputy cum laude” Walker? Lordy, the only thing missing was Marjorie Taylor-Greene trumpeting family values.

In his stump speech, Kennedy described the Democrats as “woke,” despite the glaring fact that it’s the Repugs who want to censor books, revise Jim Crow, restrict voting, and deny any and all rights to LGBQT citizens. It’s the Repugs who want to abolish CRT in schools and it’s they who scorn BLM as if only white lives matter.

Yet, Kennedy insists, it’s the Dems who are OUT-OF-TOUCH ELITISTS who “walk around with Ziploc bags of kale” for energy. (I honestly don’t know where the he hell he’s even talking about.)

“Cousin Eddie” Kennedy said in a tweet that the country needs leaders who understand that vetting people at the border isn’t racist, its prudent. (I suppose there’s a literal invasion of aliens invading Georgia from neighboring Florida and South Carolina.), that he believes an election day, not an election month (whatever that must mean) and that criminals aren’t the good guys, they are the bad guys (not sure if he includes Donald Trump’s circle of friends who have been convicted of crimes or not).

But can’t you just imagine the back-to-back speeches by Kennedy and Walker? That had to be pure entertainment – not that anyone could comprehend what either one was saying.

Like I said, the only thing missing was Marjorie Taylor-Greene.

Louisiana is near the bottom in virtually every survey of good things: health, teen pregnancies, poverty, obesity, literacy, environment, crime, overall quality of life.

So, what does our attorney general and announced candidate for governor zero in on? Why dirty books in public libraries, of course.

Jeff Landry has shown little to no interest in the beating death of Ronald Green by Louisiana State Troopers more than three years ago. Neither has he addressed the stabbing death of a state prisoner in the Catahoula Parish jail or the death of a man at the hands of Bogalusa police.

Granted, the first two deaths should have been addressed by the Louisiana Department of Corrections, the proper state agency to take proper action. But they were not. The attorney general is the state’s top legal officer and his silence has been deafening.

Neither has Landry had any public comment on the rash of infant deaths which might have been prevented with proper intervention by the Department of Children and Family Services.

In short, Landry is a political predator who, like a heat-seeking missile, homes in on the hottest political issue certain to keep his name out in front of the public and his eye ever-focused on higher office.

And yes, I know the State Constitution limits the AG as to actions he can legally take but even in those case where he is asked to take part – like the jail rape case in Union Parish and the dispute over a court clerk in Ouachita Parish – he has punted on his responsibility

But if he is restricted in his involvement in local matters like the ones cited above, how is it that he can intervene in a strictly local matter involving parish and school libraries?

A predator generally seeks out the slowest and/or the weakest of a herd and Landry is no different.

He has found a hot-button issue and is exploiting it to the fullest. He has launched a TIP LINE for citizens to report inappropriate content in public and school libraries, a move eerily reminiscent to Texas’s institution of a reward system for reporting anyone who so much a thinks about getting or aiding in an abortion.

His decency quest is no different than the fictional Big Brother of Orwell’s 1984 or the all-to-real US ban of LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVERthat remained in place until it was finally lifted in 1959.

I can remember in the late ‘50s and very early ‘60s when students at Ruston High School found it necessary to smuggle copies of Peyton Place into study hall where they were read surreptitiously by curious students looking for the smut that was, by today’s standards, not really there.

Landry is joined at the hip to Michael Lunsford and his organization, Citizens for a New Louisiana. All one need do is trace their connections to a character named WILL MILLS, III, former finance chairman and treasurer of the Republican Party of Louisiana.

So now, we have Will Mills, III, Jeff Landry, and Michael Lunsford all tied together with a nice little bow via campaign contributions from Mills to both Landry and Lunsford’s organization as well as the Republican Party.

That connection didn’t appear to help Lunsford much a couple of years ago. Members of his own Republican Party didn’t seem to care much for him when he received only 27 PERCENT OF THE VOTE, losing his Louisiana Republican State Central Committee seat in the process. He explained his decisive loss by saying, “God is calling me to fully embrace the non-partisan government transparency work I’ve become passionate about…” Comments on Twitter about his loss weren’t very kind.

About the only thing he seems to have become “passionate” about is going from library to library throughout the state in an attempt to ferret out books he finds objectionable. The local librarians must wonder about his propensity to dive into these publications wherever he lights down, be it Lafayette, Livingston, Caddo, or St. Tammany, to name just a few of the parishes where he has force fed his own brand of morality while devouring the naughty books.

The real question is not whether or not books containing sexual content should be moved to another part of the library. The ultimate goal is their removal, make no mistake about that. It doesn’t matter how loudly they deny this, censorship is the central issue here.

And if they’re successful in that endeavor, what might be next? Obviously, LGBQT rights are in their crosshairs but beyond that, lie other issues like women’s rights, minimum wage, civil rights, voter eligibility, and workers’ benefits.

Women’s right to choose has already come under attack and actually defeated in many states. But what about women’s right to equal pay for equal work? That is already an issue with women getting about 60 cents on the dollar compared to men doing the same job, but there is loud opposition to bringing about equality for women – if they’re even allowed to continue in the work force at all.

Just look at the organized opposition by Republicans to increasing the minimum wage. And already, Republicans are making noise about increasing the voting age after younger voters gave them an ass-whupping in the mid-terms.

If you think Lunsford and his ilk are going to stop at objectionable books, you’re only fooling yourself. That’s just the opening salvo in the coming war over basic liberties. They are convinced, perhaps correctly, that if they just chip away a little at a time, no one will mount serious resistance.

I’m reminded of the poem FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE JEWS.

Landry and his fellow Republicans like John Kennedy et al, insist that more restrictive gun laws will do little to reduce the number of mass shootings at churches and schools across the US. Because of their skepticism about the effectiveness of gun laws and their devotion to the Second Amendment (bought and paid for by the NRA), they adamantly oppose any laws restricting access to assault weapons.

Yet…yet, they have no hesitancy in enacting laws restricting abortion and now Landry is calling for laws restricting access to objectional literature for fear that it might cause children to become gay and everyone know that gays and transgenders pose an ever-present threat to the safety of toddlers.

Bull crap! More children have been molested by individual evangelical members of the clergy, sick, demented family members, and mass shooters than by all the gay and transgender persons combined.

Likewise, it might be wise if Landry and Lunsford considered who spouts the loudest racist, antisemitic online rhetoric, gays and transgenders or the RABID EVANGELICAL RIGHT.

Perhaps Landry might wish to set up a tip line for that garbage. Of course not; it’s not a vote-getter.

And predators don’t prey on their own kind.

Most of us have received emails like the one below at one time or another:

PayPal

Report

Invoice no: 5JAE 60E0 URXR VR7G

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using PayPal.

Your account has been charged with $481.88 USD and will be going to deduct from your account within 24 hours. If you did not recognize this transaction or want to cancel this charge.

Please contact Toll Free Customer Support Number: +1(801)-882-2752

Invoice No                : 876-42154522

Order No                  : CL7-4512212-54451

Invoice Amount      : $481.88 USD

Invoice Date            : 30 November,2022

Date                         : 01 December,2022

Payment Method  : PayPal.

Or like this:

Rеdіlеѵеrу rеquеst.

Yоur pаrсеl hаs аrrіѵеd аt оur lосаl pоst-оffісе

Wе аrе mіssіng іnfоrmаtіоns іn оrdеr tо соmplеtе уоur dеlіѵеrу 

Рlеаsе сlісk thе lіnk bеlоw tо соrrесt уоur аdrеss аnd pау thе fееs оf (3 USD) fоr thе nеw dеlіѵеrу аttеmpt іt wіll аrrіѵе іn nеxt 2 dауs.

Updаtе pаrсеl 

You know you haven’t purchased anything and you don’t think you have any packages due but you have that urge to check messages like these out.

Don’t.

Both are scams and if you examine the messages closely you can spot the giveaways. In both, there are errors in grammar. In the first, “…and will be going to decuct from your account…” is fractured English and would never be sent out by a reputable company like PayPal. It was obviously composed by someone in a place well out of the reach of law enforcement authorities in this country.

The second one, you will notice, says, “Your parcel has arrived at our local post-office…” Notice that the message does not describe which post office – just “our local post-office.” Whose local? Where is that “local post-office”? Also, “post office” should not be hyphonated, a glaring error that points to an overseas hacker who is not quite as familiar with our language as he should be. Plus, he was a bit careless in misspelling “Redelivery.”

So, what’s the purpose of these scams? After all, the latter message only says that I owe $3 to get the mysterious package (that I never ordered) delivered “in next 2 days” (again, notice the incorrect grammar). I mean, what’s three bucks? No one scams for three bucks, right? Wrong

You are either supposed to call the number in the first message or click on a link provided (but not included here) in the second message. In either case, you will doubtless be asked to provide personal information, such as your PayPal account number, credit care information, or banking account information. You may even be asked to provide social security numbers (to ensure proper identification, of course) as well as other personal information.

If you do that, they gotcha and you will see your bank account eddy away like the last water down a bathtub drain. Or you may see the balance on your credit card balance explode like you just signed on one of those hidden Donald Trump contribution online solicitations.

Which brings up a third scam that was just attempted on yours truly but for the quick action of some alert employee of Hancock-Whitney Bank who thwarted the scammer’s efforts.

I received a phone call from a Hancock employee who informed me that an effort had been made to transfer funds from my LouisianaVoice checking account into a Huntington Bank account.

 First of all, I have never and will never authorize any electronic payment from that account. I’m old school: I write the old paper checks for all transactions from that account as well as our personal checking account.

Second, and this theory was supported by the Hancock representative as well: there most probably is no such animal as a Huntington Bank; it’s quite likely some untracable sham paper conduit through which money is skimmed from countless accounts like mine worldwide. Had it not been for that quick-acting Hancock risk management employee, $1,000 would have floated away, most likely to some overseas recipient.

As it was, the attempt was intercepted and my bank account frozen so that nothing can be deposited or withdrawn – not even by me. Now, I have to go in to the bank, close out that account and set up a brand-new account. But, it’s a minor inconvenience in order to keep from finding my account balance reduced by a thousand bucks.

The thing that most surprised me, however, was the amount they attempted to grab. Normally, these hackers go for smaller amounts in the hopes that (a) it won’t attract the bank’s attention (as it did in this case) and (b) the account holder won’t miss an insignificant amount like say, $50 or $75 or even $100 which, repeated in tens of thousands of other accounts across the map, can produce a substantial windfall for cyber thieves. In my case, they got greedy and their efforts failed.

Obviously, I’m certainly grateful to the folks at Hancock.

At the same time, I feel it’s important to use thie near-miss of a lesson to offer words of warning to those who have worked hard their entire lives to accumulate a few dollars to be ever-vigilant for unscrupulous hackers who want to sit at a computer and rob you of your life’s savings.

The elderly are especially vulnerable targets of these crooks, so it’s critical that when messages like the two at the beginning of this post pop up in your email, DO NOT OPEN them. Instead, just DELETE! You have absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose by opening the messages and especially by responding to them. (I don’t like typing in all caps because it’s the email equivalent to shouting, but this is important so I’ll repeat: BE CAREFUL!)

The stabbing death of a prisoner at the Catahoula Correctional Center in Harrisonburg on Nov. 10 apparently was an “inside hit job,” an incident that officials have attempted to keep from the public, according to two sources who spoke with LouisianaVoice.

The victim even warned center officials that he would be killed if he were placed in the inmate housing unit but his pleas went unheeded and he was subsequently attacked by as many as eight other inmates.

Montrell Rogers was described by one source as a state prisoner who told correctional center officials that he had enemies in the assigned dorm but that he was forced into the unit anyway.

Harrisonburg attorney Paul Lemke said the facility has been plagued with problems for a number of years, the latest of which was the “inside hit job” on Rogers, who he said he understood had been transferred to Catahoula from East Carroll Parish.

“He (Rogers) had made somebody mad and they were waiting for him,” he said. “The Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) moves prisoners around in efforts to ‘lose’ them, or hide them from their attorneys and their families. And with prisoners being moved around like that, word travels from facility to facility and the word gets out” through the prison grapevine.

The other source who contacted LouisianaVoice described Rogers as a personal friend and called his death “a brutal murder.”

That person, whose identity is being withheld out of concerns for his safety, said Rogers was stabbed “by multiple inmates” and that the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Department has so far kept the incident from the news media. “The warden, Pat Book, runs a terrible prison operation,” he said. “He (Book) was allegedly under investigation years ago for cracking he skull of an inmate in his office during a used of force incident.” He said at the time of that incident, one of Book’s family members, Ronnie Book, was sheriff.

Ronnie Book was first elected sheriff of Catahoula Parish with 89 percent of the vote in October 1999.

Lemke said he had represented the inmate who was injured by Pat Book whom he identified as Anthony Day. “He was another of those who was moved around by DOC. He was brought in from Iberia Parish. He was one of those who the Iberia Parish sheriff at the time (Louis Ackal) had turned dogs loose on in the jail.”

Lemke in March 2003 filed an ethics complaint against Sheriff Ronnie Book, claiming that Pat Book, while employed at the correctional facility, was simultaneously part owner of B&B Commissary which supplied the jail with snacks, drinks, and toiletries from July 2001 to Jan. 31, 2003. That, Lemke claimed, was a conflict of interests and the Ethics Commission levied a fine of about $5,000 against the Books.

B&B Commissary, which was chartered in June 2001, one month before it began operating the commissary, is no longer in business, according to corporate records of the Louisiana Secretary of State which indicate the corporation was dissolved in May 2003, two months after Lemke filed his ethics complaint.

Lemke said that prior to awarding the contract to Pat Book and B&B (the other “B” in the name was for H. Layne Book, also listed, along with Pat Book, as a director of the company), Sheriff Ronnie Book contacted a prison commissary vendor in Arkansas to ask that they submit a bid with elevated prices “for appearances sake” for when the contract was awarded to B&B.

Lemke said the Catahoula Correctional Center was once run by private prison operator LaSalle Corrections of Ruston and that Pat Book was a LaSalle employee at that time. He said Book was also once a member of the LaSalle board of directors but LouisianaVoice was unable to confirm that.

He said the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office took over operation of the corrections center several years back. “It’s been a real mess out there,” he said. “They’ve gone nuts.” He said DOC and Louisiana State Police have had to intervene “a couple of times.”

Lemke said he does not expect charges to be filed against all of those involved in the Rogers death. “It’ll probably come down to a single person being charged because no one is going to talk to investigators,” he said.

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