LouisianaVoice was founded more than five years ago on the belief that not enough was being done to expose official wrongdoing. I set out with the stated purpose of connecting the dots between campaign money and bad law and going into any parish, anytime to contribute in some small way to rooting out the rot that has for too long corrupted this state.
Of course, there have been the occasional book reviews, stories about friends (and pets) who have died, and a couple of April Fool’s stories that apparently were of sufficient originality to have tricked some of my readers. But those aside, I have stuck steadfastly to my original mission of shining a light into the dark corners of the state that I love in the hope of somehow bringing about a change in the way public officials have historically treated the citizenry like so many serfs in some personal fiefdom.
And while there has been no shortage of such stories to write (notwithstanding my wife’s tongue-in-cheek prediction of a couple of years ago that I’d have nothing to write about when Bobby Jindal left office), there is the occasional story that merits special attention.
This is one of those.
It’s about a man who carried out what is probably one of the most painful things a man can do: turn in his own son for suspected criminal activity, in this case committed against the district attorney’s office in the 12th Judicial District in Avoyelles Parish.
The father’s name is Charles Riddle III.
He is the District Attorney for Avoyelles Parish.
Riddle is a former State Representative who, in 1999 introduced legislation that became Act 1118 which prohibited the state from recovery of the costs paid by the state under Medicaid for individuals residing in nursing homes. The act protected the patients’ homes from seizure.
He co-authored the bill that made Louisiana State University in Alexandria a four-year school and in 1997. He also introduced the constitutional amendment that ultimately allowed LSU to take control of the Louisiana Charity Hospital System which created one of the premier teaching hospitals in the nation until the system was dismantled by Bobby Jindal.
He was reelected in 1995 and 1999 and resigned from the legislature in 2003 after being elected as district attorney. He was re-elected without opposition both in 2008 and 2014 and in 2008 he was elected President of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.
His selection in 2012 to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame appears in retrospect to have been justified by his subsequent candor as a father and his dedication as a public official sworn to uphold the law impartially, uniformly and fairly.
Riddle took to Facebook with what the BATON ROUGE ADVOCATE described as “an emotional post that his son, John Riddle, is also being investigated for possible wrongdoing in Avoyelles Parish—in a case where the DA’s Office is the alleged victim and his father is the complainant.”
Riddle told The Advocate he could not discuss the case in which his office was victimized in detail but did say his son took advantage of his access to “certain things” because of their relationship. He said he personally called Marksville police to report what he felt was a criminal violation by his son.
In an apparently unrelated development, John Riddle was arrested by St. Tammany officials for trashing a hotel room and for possessing counterfeit money.
The elder Riddle said he wanted to defuse the story about his son because, he said, people have tried to use his son’s legal problems “in an effort to gain a more favorable result by threatening me in a form of blackmail, thinking that I would do anything to protect my son,” Charles Riddle wrote.
Riddle said his office would be recused from involvement in any case filed against his son in Avoyelles Parish; instead, the matter would be handled by the state Attorney General’s Office.
“Know that as a parent, I love my son and will do what any parent would do to obtain the correct result. Yet, I will not compromise this office. I do not condone any action that he is accused of doing,” he said.
In light of recent stories by LouisianaVoice about preferential treatment accorded by district attorneys in St. Landry and Livingston parishes to an individual with a laundry list of felonies and misdemeanors, including multiple DWIs, Charles Riddle’s story, while heartbreaking, is nonetheless a refreshing change from the norm.
In short, Charles Riddle’s character and honesty has shone through in this unfortunate incident and his handling of a difficult matter has shown all of us what public service should be about.