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Archive for April, 2018

Only a few hours are left in our April fundraiser.

Read today’s post about the arrest of the four State Troopers. Then think back four years and try to remember who was the ONLY news source reporting on the shenanigans of State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.

In case you don’t remember, it was LouisianaVoice!

Those arrests today would never have happened if LouisianaVoice had not first shown the glare of the public spotlight on Edmonson. In fact, Edmonson would most likely still be head of State Police and looking forward to a pension bloated by an extra $100,000 per year—were it not for our reporting.

I won’t take up a lot of space here by begging like some televangelist. I hate that. I detest coming to my readers with my hand out. But the truth is, we need to pay expenses and your generosity helps us do that.

So, if you haven’t already, and you’d like to help, please click on the yellow DONATE button below right and pay by credit card or mail your check to:

LouisianaVoice

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, Louisiana 70727

Thank you,

Tom Aswell, publisher

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“Jimmy Rogers is a symptom; Mike Edmonson is the disease.”

—Anthony “Tony” Radosti, Vice President of the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, commenting on Monday’s arrest of former State Trooper Jimmy Rogers, two current troopers another former state trooper. Mike Edmonson, former State Police Superintendent, was their boss.

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After literally dozens of stories by LouisianaVoice since 2014 about Louisiana State Police (LSP) problems through mismanagement from the top, it appears—finally—that matters may be coming to a head with Monday’s arrest of two current and two former state troopers a total of 98 counts of filing false public records, injuring public records, felony theft and malfeasance in office.

Along with the formal LSP news release announcing the four arrests, unconfirmed reports have former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson and his attorney involved in preliminary negotiations for a plea bargain on unspecified charges but believed to be connected to the October 2016 trip in which four troopers drove a state vehicle to a convention in San Diego via tourist stops in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

An official of the Metropolitan Crime Commission in New Orleans even voiced his belief that all the problems of LSP as reported on since 2014 by LouisianaVoice could be laid at the feet of one man: Edmonson.

While the latest arrests stem directly from a news story by New Orleans TV investigative reporter LEE ZURIK last November revealed state troopers were being paid for working Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) patrol that they in fact did not work, LouisianaVoice reported two years earlier that Rogers was falsifying records in connection to his LACE patrol. LACE is a cooperative program in which local district attorneys pay state police for beefed-up patrol to catch traffic offenders.

In the end, of the 98 counts amassed by the four current and former troopers, 75 were lodged against Rogers. All the counts against the four were in connection to their work in the LACE program, the LSP PRESS RELEASE release said.

The two current state troopers were Master Trooper Daryl Thomas (two counts of filing false public records and one count of felony theft (greater than $15,000), and Wayne Taylor (14 counts of injuring public records and one count of malfeasance in office. Thomas, of New Orleans, currently makes $89,400 per year and Taylor, of Rapides Parish, earns $62,600 per year.

The two former troopers were Byron Sims, a $109,000-per-year polygraphist with 22 years’ experience before leaving LSP (four counts of filing false public records and one count of felony theft greater than $21,000), and Rogers (74 counts of injuring public records and one count of malfeasance in office.

FILING FALSE PUBLIC RECORDS, under Louisiana Title 14 is the filing of any forged or wrongfully-altered document or any document containing a false statement or false representation of a material fact.

INJURING PUBLIC RECORDS is the intentional falsification or concealment of any record or document filed in any public office or with any public officer.

Both are felonies.

Much of the legwork in bringing the charges against Rogers was done by the office of Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier.

In Rogers’s case, an LSP INTERNAL AFFAIRS REPORT dated October 20, 2015 said he wrote tickets on his regular detail but putting a later date on the ticket to make it appear he had written it on his LACE detail when in fact he was not even working the LACE shift for which he was paid. Other times, he would put later times for his traffic stops to make it appear he had worked his entire detail when, in fact, he had not.

The IA investigation, provided to LouisianaVoice by the New Orleans Metropolitan Crime Commission, initially delved into only Rogers’s 2015 LACE overtime but when discrepancies were discovered, it was decided to expand the investigation to include 2013 and 2014 but then Rogers resigned, effective Nov. 6, 2015 and the investigation was terminated.

Inexplicably, Rogers had a change of heart and on March 7, 2017, sent an EMAIL to Troop D Commander Benny Broussard in which he (a) claimed he had resigned in “good standing,” and (b) said he would like to return to his former job. Ironically, in that email he said, “I was clear (sic) of every claim except altering times on tickets. I am guilty of writing times on tickets later than the stop actually was.”

The only logical reason for writing the wrong times was to cover up his absence from duty by writing driver citations for a small part of the beginning of his shift and then taking the rest of the day off.

One source told LouisianaVoice that Rogers and another former trooper, Ronnie Picou, should not have been able to disappear from their shifts if they had been under a proper level of supervision. “Most jobs have supervisors (who) would notice when someone is not there,” the source said. “Most police supervisors would care about their troopers and check on them if they disappeared. Most police supervisors believe their job is important and officers must be present to accomplish that important job.”

“They were not supervised by people who care about their officers or the citizens they serve. They were supervised by Lt. Paul Brady and Capt. Chris Guillory.

Brady helped popularize the coined term “Brady Days,” an unwritten policy that gave troopers time off for issuing DWI citations, which can encourage arrests of people who were not actually impaired. Brady supervised Picou who was initially fired after LouisianaVoice requested records on alleged payroll fraud. Brady supervised Picou when an LSP investigative report showed he was absent from duty much of the time.

Brady was suspended for reportedly ordering Troopers to claim more time than they worked. Those allegations were also discovered after LouisianaVoice made public records requests. Brady also supervised Rogers. Sources reported Picou and Rogers were able to shuck their duties under the supervision of Brady, leaving their fellow troopers and citizens abandoned.

LouisianaVoice has received reports that the allegations which led to the arrest of Rogers were known to LSP for years. Rogers was under the protection of Brady and Guillory, former Troop D Commander. Capt. Guillory reportedly has a position in Baton Rouge but he lives in Sulphur.

LSP knew about Rogers, Picou, Brady and Guillory and did nothing until forced by public exposure.

Instead, Edmonson, rather than take proactive measures to eliminate problems exposed in Troop D, went to considerable lengths to expose LouisianaVoice’s SOURCES–until it became painfully obvious that the primary problem was Edmonson.

Perhaps Anthony “Tony” Radosti, Vice-President of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said it best when he told LouisianaVoice on Monday, “Jimmy Rogers was a symptom. Mike Edmonson was the disease.”

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Only three more days of my nagging you for contributions to keep LouisianaVoice afloat. Our April fundraiser ends on Monday so you don’t have much time left to contribute to no-holds-barred investigative journalism on the home front.

While I occasionally venture out of my comfort zone and into the national political arena, I generally limit my writing to issues in Louisiana that are overlooked by a mainstream media that has been gutted by newsroom cutbacks.

It was LouisianaVoice that broke the very first Mike Edmonson story—the one about the attempt by State Sen. Neil Riser to hand him an additional $100,000 annually in retirement. Then, as events unfolded, LouisianaVoice gave scores of stories about Edmonson’s lax management style that led to low morale and corruption at State Police. We were first to announce that Edmonson was stepping down from his post.

LouisianaVoice also broke the story about Bobby Jindal’s attempt to torpedo Murphy Painter, former head of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control with trumped up federal criminal charges, charges on which Painter was acquitted with the state being forced to pay some $700,000 in Painter’s attorney fees.

From there, LouisianaVoice began following Painter’s successor, hand-picked legislator Troy Hebert. Story after story described abuses of authority by Hebert.

LouisianaVoice broke the story of the Office of Group Benefits which saw its healthy surplus slashed to peanuts by Jindal’s underhanded maneuvers designed to help him bridge his disastrous yearly budget deficits.

LouisianaVoice also broke the story of how Jindal and a handful of north Louisiana legislators swung a sweetheart deal for Vantage Health in its purchase of a state building in downtown Monroe for pennies on the dollar. Of course, several Jindal cohorts now work for Vantage.

LouisianaVoice broke stories about Superintendent of Education John White and his policies to undermine public education in Louisiana—including licensing a private school in Ruston that had no physical facilities or teachers.

Not every story is a blockbuster, of course. Some are more mundane than others. But the fact is, LouisianaVoice has worked diligently for eight years now to expose waste, corruption, and unethical practices in Louisiana government. We are currently looking at operations in the Louisiana Department of Health and have already found several areas of questionable and unethical activity.

We can’t do all this without your help—moral and financial. We have to keep the lights on and that includes chasing down countless leads (I get about 200 emails per day), paying for auto fuel and upkeep, paying for public records and even fighting off the occasional lawsuit designed to shut down LouisianaVoice.

Please help by clicking on the yellow DONATE button in the right-hand column just above my blurb on my Bobby Jindal book. That will allow you to give by credit card. If you’d rather not do it that way, you may mail your contribution to:

LouisianaVoice

P.O. Box 922

Denham Springs, Louisiana 70727

And please know your contribution, no matter how large or small, is deeply appreciated.

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To some readers, this will come under the heading of extremely old news.

To others, it will be a revelation well worth the time to read if for no other reason than to remind us how those in positions to do so tend to take care of their own.

I’m talking about House Bill 1351 of the 2004 legislative session—14 years ago.

It was what insiders to the legislative process sometimes refer to as a snake because it is sneaked into the process as an apparently innocuous piece of legislation. In reality, however, it is a self-serving bill that does nothing to benefit the general population but which serves the purposes of only a small minority, a mere fraction of the population: those in control of the system.

Signed into law by Gov. Kathleen Blanco after passing both chambers unanimously (with five absences—four in the House and one in the Senate), and authored as HB 1351 by then Rep. Taylor Townsend, the bill gave sweeping powers to legislators and staff members to literally snub their collective noses at the authority of state courts.

Should you ever be subpoenaed as a witness or a defendant in a civil or criminal matter, you had best be in court clad in the proper attire, with a respectful attitude and at the appointed time lest you bring the wrath of the presiding judge down upon your spinning head. Try to ignore that subpoena or otherwise buck the system and you’re likely to be shown your new quarters in a local holding cell and with a special new nom de plume, courtesy of the occupants already there: “Fresh Meat.”

Unless you serve in the legislature or are employed by same.

In strict legalese, Act 873, which is formally referred to as R.S (for Revised Statute) 13:4163, is an “Ex parte motion for legislative continuance or extension of time, legislators or employees engaged in legislative or constitutional convention activities.”

In plain English, it’s a doctor’s excuse to skip class for extended periods of time.

With a not from appropriate authority, i.e. the clerk of the House or secretary of the Senate, a legislator or a legislative staff member, when subpoenaed for a court proceeding, may thumb his or her nose at the judge because the STATUTE gives them that authority over a court order.

It says so, right there in the second paragraph: “A member of the legislature and a legislative employee shall have peremptory grounds for continuance or extension of a criminal case, civil case, or administrative proceeding…The continuance or extension shall be sought by written motion specifically alleging these grounds.”

The statute also says the continuance (legal term for delay) is for the benefit of the legislator or legislative staff member “and may only be asserted or waived by a member or employee.” It even applies of the legislator is an attorney who enrolled as counsel of record in the court matter.

In other words, someone with important business before the court will just have to cool his heels while his attorney/legislator tends to more important matters, i.e. taking care of campaign contributors like oil and gas companies, nursing homes, pharmaceutical firms, banks and members of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) by making sure they are not overburdened with silly requirements to pay their fair share of taxes.

And you surely wouldn’t want your legislator missing out on a fine supper at Sullivan’s or Ruth’s Chris, a gala crawfish boil or some other after-hours function because he was hung up in court representing some poor nobody in a criminal case or civil lawsuit.

Boy Howdy, talk about rank having its privilege.

This exemption even extends to legislative committees and/or subcommittees in addition to legislative sessions and constitutional conventions (the last one of those, by the way, was in 1974 but hey, why take chances?).

So next time you’re required to be in court as a plaintiff, defendant, legal counsel for either side, or a jury member, just be thankful you aren’t a legislator so heavily burdened with the state’s pressing business that you would have to decline the judge’s invitation to attend.

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