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Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category

LouisianaVoice may have to move its operations to Iberia Parish just to keep up with the shenanigans of Sheriff Louis Ackal, District attorney Bofill Duhé and Assessor Ricky Huval.

We might as well for any information we might pry out of the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry about his investigation of a criminal case in Iberia involving the son of a supporter of both Landry and Duhé.

Landry is so preoccupied with his dual role as Donald Trump’s leading Louisiana lackey and Gov. John Bel Edwards’ primary adversary, it’s going to be interesting to see how he manages to do his job as attorney general.

Meanwhile, there’s the question of Duhé’s First Assistant District Attorney Robert C. Vines and his part in the investigation of the illegal manipulation of the Cypress Bayou Casino’s employee and payroll databases.

The Cypress Bayou Casino is run by the Chitimacha Indian Tribe in St. Mary Parish and in June 2016, the tribe’s chairman, O’Neil Darden, Jr., was ARRESTED by State Police on charges of felony theft, accused of stealing from the tribe by tinkering with the casino’s data bases that resulted in his receiving and “annual bonus” of several thousand dollars to which he was not entitled.

Duhé’s office is handling the prosecution and Vines was named lead prosecutor.

The problem with that is Vines is also the prosecutor for the Chitimacha Tribal Court. He was appointed to the post in January 2016 by….(wait for it)….Darden.

That case was originally set for trial last January but was removed from the docket and continued to May 1. But that trial date also was continued and the matter is now set for trial August 29.

Meanwhile, LouisianaVoice has received a non-response response to our public records request into the status of its investigation of Taylor Richard, accused of sexually molesting toddler siblings, daughters of his girlfriend.

Taylor Richard’s father, James Richard is a political supporter of both Duhé, having contributed $2600 to his campaign in 2014 and 2015, and Landry.

Landry got the case because Renee Louivere, who had previously worked as an assistant district attorney for the 16th Judicial District which includes the parishes of Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary. She left the DA’s office and enrolled as Taylor Richard’s legal counsel while in private practice.

But then she returned to the DA’s office and currently works in the St. Martinville office. That created a conflict which allowed Duhé to punt the case to Landry and the AG’s office in Baton Rouge.

Last Thursday, we received the following email from Landry’s office:

From: LADOJ – Public Records Center <louisianaag@mycusthelp.net>
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2018 2:21 PM
To:
Cc: wisherr@ag.louisiana.gov
Subject: [Records Center] Public Records Request :: R000178-070918

RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST of July 09, 2018, Reference # – R000178-070918

Dear Mr. Tom Aswell,

In response to your public records request pursuant to La. R.S. 44:1 et seq, which our office received on July 09, 2018, the information you requested has been processed. You sought records related to the following:

“The AG’s investigative file for Taylor Richard of Iberia Parish.”

Louisiana’s Public Records Law, specifically La. R.S. 44:3(A)(1), exempts records held by the office of the attorney general which pertain “to pending criminal litigation or any criminal litigation which can be reasonably anticipated, until such litigation has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled…”

As the matter of Taylor Richard is pending criminal litigation, the file you seek is not subject to disclosure and our office must respectfully decline to produce these records at this time.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 44:3(A)(4), however, allows release of the initial report for this matter. Copies of these records are invoiced below.

After a diligent search, our staff have (sic) identified three (3 ) pages of records which are responsive to your request. The records are not electronic. If you wish to receive physical copies of these records, pursuant to La. R.S. 39:241 and La. Admin. Code Title 4, Part 1, Section 301, there is a charge of .25 per page. The billing is as follows:

3 pages @ .25 per page = $0.75 

TOTAL:  $0.75

If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact our office. 

Best regards,

Luke Donovan
Assistant Attorney General

Besides brushing up on grammar, Landry’s office could also stand a remedial course in math.

What we got was two, not three, pages of a heavily-redacted report (a third page was blank) that confirmed that the AG’s office was indeed investigating a complaint of the sexual battery (redacted) against a female of (redacted) age in a New Iberia home by Taylor Richard.

The only way it could be determined that the battery was against a child was that the complaint was made by an employee of the “Department of Child Services” (actually, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services).

The report had one other grisly revelation. It noted that the sexual battery was “completed” and not simply attempted and after the words Criminal Activity on the complaint form was the word “Other.”

We can hope it won’t take Landry two years to complete this investigation the way it did for him to finish up the probe of the Union Parish jailhouse rape. But this is Jeff Landry and if he can’t see a political advantage, he just doesn’t give a rat’s behind.

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The Louisiana Supreme court maintains an attractive WEB PAGE that provides all sorts of information. Among other things, there are these handy features:

BIOGRAPHIES of JUSTICES;

BAR EXAM RESULTS;

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT the COURT;

POLICY for MEDIA;

There’s even a link to the ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY BOARD, the board that hears complaints about attorneys’ professional and private practices and metes out punishment ranging from required counseling to disbarment.

That can be a good thing in case you’re looking for an attorney to represent you. You wouldn’t want to hire legal counsel who has a nasty habit of showing up drunk in court or who doesn’t ever get around to dispensing monetary awards to clients or worse, someone who neglects a case until it prescribes.

And the court’s DECISION and RULES link can be especially brutal. It lists each individual case and goes into minute detail in laying out every charge against an attorney, no matter how personal, and then announces to the world what the Supreme Court deems to be an appropriate punishment.

Woe unto any attorney who gets caught DRIVING UNDER the INFLUENCE or who forgets to PAY HIS TAXES.

Of course, the same goes for judges found guilty of judicial misconduct, right?

Well, to borrow a phrase from an old Hertz car rental commercial: not exactly.

There is a JUDICIARY COMMISSION and it does investigate and resolve complaints against judges—or so it says.

There’s even a handy-dandy JUDICIAL COMPLAINT FORM for anyone with a beef against a judge.

But try as you might, there doesn’t seem to be a link that lists actual complaints and actions taken against judges by the Judiciary Commission. An oversight, we were sure.

So, we placed a call to the Supreme Court. Surely, there was someone there who could direct us to the proper link so that we might know the status of say, one JEFF PERILLOUX, Judge of the 40th Judicial District in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Perilloux, 51, was suspended by the State Supreme Court following his indictment on charges he sexually assaulted three teenaged girls, friends of his daughter, while on a family vacation in Florida.

This is the same Judge Perilloux who, while a parish prosecutor in 2010, was arrested for DWI. In that incident, he threatened a State Trooper, falling back on the time-honored “Do you know who I am?” ploy, advising the trooper that, “I am the parish attorney. I’m not some lowlife.” Good to know, sir. Here’s your ticket.

Then there are the two judges from IBERVILLE PARISH who were suspended in 2016.

And who can forget the judges caught up in the OPERATION WRINKLED ROBE federal investigation?

Well, apparently, the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Judiciary Commission has no problem forgetting those cases. Or at least ignoring them. Try finding any mention of those on the Supreme Court’s information-laden web page.

So, we made a call to the Supreme Court.

But, alas, we encountered the old familiar stone wall when we inquired into the status of investigations into judicial misconduct. The person to whom we spoke did offer to direct us to the judicial complaint form so we had to explain a second time that we did not wish to file a complaint but instead, wanted to find information about action taken against wayward judges.

“We don’t release that information,” we were told. “The only way that gets publicized is if the media finds out about it.”

“But, but, but, you list attorney disciplinary action…It seems the public has as much right to know about judicial discipline as about attorney discipline—maybe even more of a right.”

“We don’t release information on judges.”

Here is the relevant rule applicable to records:

Rule XXIII, Section 23(a) of the Rules of this Court be and is hereby amended to read as follows:

Section 23.

(a) All documents filed with, and evidence and proceedings before the judiciary commission are confidential. The commission may provide documents, evidence and information from proceedings to the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board in appropriate cases when approved by this court. In such cases, the confidentiality provisions of La. S. Ct. Rule XIX, Section 16A shall be maintained. The record filed by the commission with this court and proceedings before this court are not confidential.

In the event a judge who has received notice of an anticipated judiciary commission filing in accordance with Rule XV of the rules of the judiciary commission, moves in advance of the filing to place any or all of the anticipated judiciary commission filing under seal, the judiciary commission shall file under seal its recommendations, findings of fact and conclusions of law, the transcript of the proceedings, and exhibits. The filing shall remain under seal until such time as the court has acted upon the judge’s motion.

Which, I guess, is just another way of saying, “We take care of our own.”

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Attorney General Jeff Landry, that staunch opponent of all things indecent and relentless publicity hound, just doesn’t seem to have much of a stomach for prosecuting rape cases.

Remember the jailhouse rape of that 17-year-old girl in Union Parish a couple of years ago? Because the jail is run by a consortium of public officials that included the local district attorney, the case was turned over to Landry’s office for prosecution.

Nothing came of it. After two years of “investigation,” no indictment, even though someone (we don’t know who, exactly) allowed a convicted rapist into her cell where she was assaulted not once, but twice. The criminal part of the case may be over, but the civil lawsuit against the parish remains active.

And now an even more repulsive rape case has landed in Landry’s lap and it’s going to be interesting to see how his office handles this one. The accused, after all, is the son of a Landry supporter who also just happens to be a campaign contributor to the local district attorney.

And that local district attorney is none other than Bo Duhé over in the 16th Judicial District that includes Iberia, St. Martin and St. Mary parishes.

Back in November 2015, it was learned that one Taylor Richard may have sexually assaulted the 3- and 5-year-old daughters of his 34-year-old girlfriend. He was finally arrested and charged in April 2016.

Renee Louivere, who had previously worked as an assistant district attorney but who was by then in private practice, enrolled as Taylor Richard’s attorney. Shortly after then, she returned to the district attorney’s office where she is currently employed in the DA’s St. Martinville office.

Obviously, her connections to Richard created a conflict of interest for Duhé, so he punted the matter to Landry’s office in Baton Rouge.

But then there is also the matter of James Richard, Taylor Richard’s father who (a) contributed $2600 to Duhé’s campaign in 2014 and 2015 through his company, Angel Rentals, Inc., and who (b) posted several pro-Landry messages on Facebook, along with photos of cookouts for Landry’s campaign. One unconfirmed report said that three weeks after Landry got the Taylor Richard case, James Richard worked on Landry’s campaign.

 

 

 

Moreover, James Richard is said to have attended school with Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal’ son which, of course, would not be unusual for a small town like New Iberia. Still, it would seem to complete the Ackal-Duhé-Richard connection rather conveniently.

Taylor Richard’s trial, meanwhile, has been continued on five different occasions. The most recent, scheduled for June, has been rescheduled for September.

In the meantime, efforts have been made on Taylor Richard’s behalf to plea bargain the matter down to counseling—for sexual assault of two toddlers.

LouisianaVoice made a public records request of Landry’s office on July 9 as to the status of the case. We received the following response that same date:

“Our office is in the process of determining what, if any, records are subject to this request and, if so, whether any privileges or exemptions apply. This may take some time. You will be notified within 30 days whether records have been located that are responsive and approximately when they will be ready for review.”

Thirty days? Really?

Why don’t you try matching Landry’s efficiency in ginning out self-serving press releases?

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Lest you think of your local sheriff’s office’s protective actions as a form of insurance, it might do well to remember that unlike State Farm, they’re not always a good neighbor and as opposed to what the Allstate folks might say, you’re not always in good hands.

Louisiana sheriffs have paid out a combined minimum of $6.1 million in settlements and judgments since 2015, according to records provided LouisianaVoice by The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Law Enforcement Program (LSLEP), the risk management arm of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.

Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal has paid out at least $2.35 million of that, or 38.5 percent of the total for all sheriffs. That’s just from 2015. Ackal has been in office for 10 years and his office has paid out more than $2.8 million in judgments and settlements, or an average of $23,000 for every month he has been in office.

Two other parish sheriffs’ departments, Jackson ($650,000) and Morehouse ($503,000) were a distant second and third, respectively, behind Iberia. Together, the three parishes were responsible for $3.5 million in payouts for damages and wrongful deaths, or 57.4 percent of the total for all 64 parishes.

Besides the $6.1 million in judgments that were paid out, seven law firms also ran up another $1.2 million in legal fees defending the various lawsuits against sheriffs. That amount represent 83.2 percent of the total legal fees paid to all firms.

Pursuant to a public records request by LouisianaVoice, LSLEP, through its legal counsel, Usry & Weeks of New Orleans, provided reports that showed file names, claimant names, attorneys who handled the files, the amounts paid in attorney fees, and settlement/judgment amounts. The amounts paid out were divided BY PARISH into “corridor” (deductible), indemnity, and excess carrier payments. Excess payments are generally paid out by a second insurance company that covers claims in excess of a certain amount covered by LSLEP’s primary insurer.

There were seven payments made by the LSLEP excess carrier, records show. They range from a low of $15,000 in a case involving two payouts to a plaintiff by the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office (the other payment was for $100,000 and was listed as an “indemnity” payment) to what is believed to be a payment of at least $600,000 in Iberia Parish in the case of the shooting death of a handcuffed prisoner.

The actual amount of that payment is unclear because in the case of Shandell Bradley v. the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, the amounts of the settlement payments were ordered sealed by the presiding judge—the only payments among the records provided that were redacted.

That was the case in which 22-year-old VICTOR WHITE, III was shot in the chest while in custody of sheriff’s deputies. The coroner somehow managed to rule that White had gotten hold of a weapon and somehow managed to shoot himself in the chest—while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

In an interview with LouisianaVoice, White’s father, Victor White, Jr., said he was unhappy with the judge’s order that terms of the settlement not be disclosed. “The judge says we can’t talk about the settlement amount, but I believe the people of Iberia Parish have a right to know how much the sheriff department’s actions cost them,” he said.

The Victor White case was not the only case in which Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal had to make substantial payouts.

CHRISTOPHER BUTLER sued after he was beaten while handcuffed by a deputy Cody Laperouse in 2013. Ackal fired Laperouse who promptly went to work as an officer for the St. Martinville Police Department. Ackal’s office paid out $350,000 in that case.

Ackal also paid out $175,000 to the family of 16-year-old DAQUENTIN THOMPSON who hanged himself while being held in Iberia Parish’s adult jail in 2014.

In a case that displayed the ugly side of Ackal’s idea of justice, the sheriff instructed two of his deputies to “take care of” HOWARD TROSCLAIR after Ackal had been told assaulted one of his (Ackal’s) relatives, according to appeal documents filed by deputy David Hines with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. When Trosclair was arrested, the court records say he was “compliant and followed the officers’ commands.” Hines nevertheless used his knee to strike Trosclair “several times in the side” and struck him “two to three times” with his baton in the back of his legs. Hines continued to knee Trosclair in the abdomen or groin even after he was restrained. Hines then filed a false police report to cover up the wrongful assault, the appeal record says.

That episode cost LSLEP $275,000.

LSLEP paid out $500,000 on behalf of the Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office in connection with the death of 18-year-old EDWIN BATTAGLIA while he was in a holding cell.

Perhaps the strangest judgment was the $600,000 payout to VACUUM CLEANER sales representatives in Jackson Parish in 2013.

It seems that a group of door-to-door salespeople had close encounters with Jackson Parish sheriff’s deputies despite their having a permit to solicit door-to-door. Deputy GERALD PALMER told the sales reps, “We’re not too keen on door-to-door salesmen in this parish, so you probably gonna run into a lot of problems. You’re probably better off to go to another parish, according to my sheriff (Andy Brown),” according to court documents.

Court documents quoted other examples of intimidation by deputies in efforts to discourage the sales reps.

The Alexandria law firm of Provosty, Sadler & Delaunay billed $247,000 for defending 33 lawsuits against sheriffs’ offices in Allen, Grant, Iberia and Rapides parishes, records of payments BY LAW FIRM show.

The Chalmette law firm of Gutierrez & Hand was a close second with $237,500 in billings for defending 20 lawsuits against the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Other top-billing firms included:

  • Cook, Yancey, King & Galloway of Shreveport—$191,390 for defending 26 cases in the parishes of Claiborne, Desoto, and Webster;
  • Hall, Lestage & Landreneau of Deridder—$149,745 for representing Allen, Beauregard, Rapides, and Vernon parishes in 36 litigation cases;
  • Homer Ed Barousse of Crowley—$135,400 for representation in the defense of litigation in 11 cases in Acadia Parish;
  • The Dodd Law Firm of Houma—$132,000 for the defense of 10 cases in East Feliciana and Iberia parishes;
  • Borne, Wilkes & Rabalais—$112,800 for defending 10 cases in Acadia and Iberia parishes.

Not all lawsuits were filed against Ackal by prisoners. LAURIE SEGURA was an administrative assistant for the sheriff’s office who obtained a settlement of $409,000 for sexual harassment by Bert Berry, chief of the Criminal Department whose action included rubbing his hands and crotch against her body, sneaking up behind her and kissing her, making inappropriate inquiries about her sex life, discussed fantasies of having sex with her, simulating sex in her presence and trying to get her to engage in phone sex. She said in her lawsuit that he ignored her repeated requests to leave her alone and when she complain, she experience retaliation.

Besides having to settle her claim, Ackal got an added bonus when Segura TESTIFIED against him in federal criminal charges brought against him for a multitude of offenses.

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Former state trooper Jimmy Rogers, according to his attorney Ron Richard, “probably sang the NATIONAL ANTHEM at more events in this town (Lake Charles) than anyone else.” Now Rogers is singing again but this time his singing is confirming the existence of TICKET QUOTAS in Troop D first reported by LouisianaVoice as far back as September 2015.

Senate Bill 799 of the 2008 legislative session breezed through the Senate by a 37-0 vote and the House by an 86-18 count to become ACT 479. The bill by Sen. Joe McPherson, theoretically at least, prohibited quotas for law enforcement officers. Of course, if you think that stopped the practice in small towns scattered over the state that depend on ticket revenue to balance their budgets, I have some surplus Scott Pruitt Public Servant of the Year nomination forms for you.

Rogers, who was ARRESTED on 74 criminal counts, first resigned ahead of a State Police Internal Affairs investigation, and then requested to be DISCIPLINED AND REINSTATED.

But thanks to the efforts of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, the Calcasieu Parish DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE pursued the matter and Rogers eventually pleaded guilty to two felony counts of malfeasance in office, which automatically disqualifies him from working in another police department.

But if you thought Rogers would go quietly, you would be wrong. As his law enforcement career circled the drain, he decided he would pull others down with him and his manifesto, published on Facebook, only served to validate what LouisianaVoice wrote about Troop D over a period of at least two years.

The Lake Charles AMERICAN PRESS published a story about his lengthy Facebook statement but did not publish the actual 10-paragraph bitter, self-serving post.

So, here it is in its entirety (with punctuation and spelling corrected):

My name is Jimmy Rogers. As most of you have seen on the news lately, I used to be a Louisiana State Trooper, note that I have not been a Trooper since 2015. As a result of a “VERY LIMITED” investigation into the LACE program, I was recently arrested and I pled guilty to 2 counts of malfeasance in office. I have stayed quiet for the duration of this situation. However, I feel like it is time to share my side of the story. My hope is not that you will feel sorry for me, but that it would spark an outcry for justice, an outcry for a REAL investigation. That investigation would reveal that Jimmy Rogers is only one of hundreds, if not thousands of Troopers who have done the same thing. I’m sure certain people and the guys from the LouisianaVoice and other media outlets will expect me to be angry and lash out at them. But I’m not! The public is tired of dirty cops, dirty prosecutors, a dirty system and, specifically, a dirty state police office! Ladies and gentlemen, SO AM I! 

Let me start out by saying, I am GUILTY. I am guilty for participating in what is, in my opinion, a gross violation of YOUR constitutional rights. You are being taxed without your knowledge. 

The District Attorney’s office dangles a few dollars in front of police officers and in turn those officers write a required amount of tickets. It is well-known that the DA only cares that you give him 2 tickets for every hour he pays for. To answer the question everyone always asks, (YES THAT IS A QUOTA)!! If you do the math, he gives the cop 1/3 and pockets the rest of the money. (The temptation to double your salary is just too hard to resist)! 

John Derosier and his office have made millions of dollars on the backs of hard working, innocent Americans. I never thought of overtime this way until I married my beautiful wife only a year ago. I’ve listened to her stories of struggle as a single mother. How one ticket could literally bury a person who struggles in poverty to feed their children. They are then forced to choose between paying a ticket or a light bill! Lose your lights or be buried under tickets that continue to pile up until you have no other recourse than to sit in jail or make payments for years! Why you ask? For money!!!! 

There is no requirement as to the location of these detail. The DA will lie to you and say that the LACE detail is to reduce crashes, however, police officers write the overwhelming majority of tickets in only a few “speed trap ” areas. If your reading this and you have ever received a ticket with a little pink sticker on it, I bet my next paycheck that you either received the ticket near the I-10 or I-210 bridges, I-10 between the 210 interchange and Hwy 171 or I-10 near the Pete Maneana exit to Westlake. As a matter of fact, the Trooper who “investigated me” was even known for working lace in that exact spot. However, he used a car that didn’t have a video recorder, as did most detectives and supervisors! So, I’m sure he will get away with his indiscretions. 

Would you like to guess why we did that in those locations? Because it was easy. Troopers get the required amount of tickets quick, steal your money, then watch movies on the side of the road. Which is exactly what I did and what I was arrested for (and I should have been arrested for)! 

A thorough and detailed investigation into EVERY Trooper in the entire state over the life of the LACE program will prove that I was far from the only offender. In fact, it is literally a common practice. A practice literally taught to me as a rookie Trooper. As a Trooper, you are taught to stop working an hour or two before shift! Every trooper worth his salt will tell you that they heard the phrase, “a good trooper is in his driveway by 3”! You better not break this rule and start making traffic stops after 3! If you did, you would be verbally reprimanded by your supervisors and your peers! 

The LACE program is the program with the spotlight, however, it is absolutely not the only program in existence. Take the overtime DWI detail for instance. Did you know that the DAs office pays police officers overtime to sit at DWI checkpoints? They don’t have to even show an arrest. They get to show up and participate a little bit then go home with your money. Of course, they say they are looking for insurance and other violations, but they specifically call it the DWI detail. As many as 20 cops will show up to these details and collect money then go home without breaking a sweat!! 

How about the seat belt detail?!? Bet you never heard of that one! Same story, you must get 2 seat belt tickets an hour to earn your overtime. The crappy thing, again, is, no one sits in areas high in crash statistics….they sit in Moss Bluff or Lake Charles or Westlake so they can catch you driving out of McDonald’s without your seat belt on! It’s literally the only way to even catch a seat belt violator because they are going slow enough for you to see! 

I know that I risk a backlash from the DA and the “system”, but it’s worth it to me! I can imagine “my brothers in blue ” will be quite upset with me, none of whom were standing in line behind me to admit their wrong doing while I was forfeiting my rights and taking my lick!

I can only tell you that I am truly sorry for being a part of a system that has failed you! I am truly sorry for allowing greed to control my actions as a person who was supposed to protect you from people like that! Who knows, maybe they silence me! Maybe you are ok with them sacrificing me as tribute to cover up a massive injustice! Or, maybe you say enough is enough and demand real change! 

I know I’ve typed a lot, and I have so much more! Maybe I will bore you more in the future! However, I urge you to share this story. Demand your constitutional rights be defended!

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