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Archive for the ‘Fraud’ Category

LouisianaVoice has received confirmation that the Legislative Auditor’s office has served subpoenas on the New Orleans Roosevelt Hotel in connection with its ongoing investigation of Louisiana State Police (LSP) management practices under former Superintendent Mike Edmonson.

Confirmation was received first from one of the principals of the historic, 116-year-old hotel and subsequently from Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, who declined to provide any specifics as to what investigators were looking for.

But it’s not difficult to figure out.

Considering an Oct. 11 LouisianaVoice STORY about complimentary hotel rooms given Edmonson and other LSP command personnel and State Fire Marshal personnel by two other New Orleans hotels, a good bet would be that auditors are looking at one of two possibilities:

  • Were state police given complimentary rooms at the Roosevelt Hotel in violation of state ethics laws that prohibit state employees from accepting anything of value as a gift, or
  • In cases where the state may have paid for the rooms during events like Mardi Gras, did anyone other than LSP personnel stay in the rooms?

Questions are pretty much limited to those two options.

Of course, “anyone” could simply refer to wives or other family members, which would be a violation in itself, or it could be other “guests.”

Rumors have circulated for months that officials of both LSP and the State Fire Marshal’s office loved to party hearty in New Orleans and female companionship and booze often were parts of the equation.

One source, when LouisianaVoice only asked if the wives and girlfriends of fire marshal personnel were also allowed to stay at the hotels free of charge, volunteered, “Oh, yes. Wives, girlfriends and other female guests.” (Emphasis his.)

Because Purpera could not go into detail as to what his investigators were looking for, he naturally also declined to speculate as to who, if anyone, else may have stayed in rooms assigned to LSP personnel.

Nor would he offer any insight as to whether he was trying to make a determination as to identities of hotel guests or attempting to learn if LSP personnel simply accepted free rooms from the hotel.

On one hand, state employees may have been accepting free rooms, a clear ethics violation. On the other, the state may have paid for rooms for state employees who were on temporary duty in New Orleans but who then allowed others to share the rooms—on the state dime.

From our vantage point, there doesn’t appear to be much distinction between the two insofar as flouting the ethics rules for public employees is concerned.

Such was the attitude that was allowed to permeate LSP during Edmonson’s nine years as Louisiana’s top cop.

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If you really want to know what’s wrong with our political system and the people we elect to office, it can be summed up in the current race for State Treasurer.

Here are the Duties of that office:

According to Article IV, Section 9 of the Louisiana Constitution, the treasurer is head of the Department of the Treasury and “shall be responsible for the custody, investment and disbursement of the public funds of the state.” The Treasury Department website outlines the treasurer’s duties:

  • receive and safely keep all the monies of this state, not expressly required by law to be received and kept by some other person;
  • disburse the public money upon warrants drawn upon him according to law, and not otherwise;
  • keep a true, just, and comprehensive account of all public money received and disbursed, in books to be kept for that purpose, in which he shall state from whom monies have been received, and on what account; and to whom and on what account disbursed;
  • keep a true and just account of each head of appropriations made by law, and the disbursements under them;
  • give information in writing to either house of the Legislature when required, upon any subject connected with the Treasury, or touching any duty of his office;
  • perform all other duties required of him by law.
  • advise the State Bond Commission, the Governor, the Legislature and other public officials with respect to the issuance of bonds and all other related matters;
  • organize and administer, within the office of the State Treasurer a state debt management section

https://www.treasury.state.la.us/Home%20Pages/TreasurerDuties.aspx

Nowhere in al that does it even once say or even imply that the job has once scintilla to do with:

  • standing with President Trump to create new jobs or to cut wasteful spending, as former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis would have us believe in her TV ads;
  • fighting to make drainage and infrastructure top priorities in the state budget, as State Sen. Neil Riser insists in his TV ads;
  • having the guts to say “No! No to bigger government, no to wasteful spending and to raising your taxes,” as former State Rep. John Schroder proclaims in his TV ads, or
  • stopping cuts to education, healthcare and wasteful government spending, as the TV ads of Derrick Edwards insist.

http://www.wafb.com/story/36425632/la-treasurer-candidates-launch-tv-ads-analyst-calls-them-flimsy-on-duties-of-office

So, why do they insist on campaigning on issues in no way related to the actual duties of the position they are seeking?

For the same reason candidates for Baton Rouge mayor (former Mayor Kip Holden and State Sen. Bodie White, who ran unsuccessfully for the job, come to mind) consistently campaign every four years on improving schools and reducing the number of school dropouts when the mayor’s office has zilch to do with the school board:

They consider the average voter to be unsophisticated, ignorant fools who don’t know any better. Or they’re so stupid they don’t know any better themselves. Those are only two choices.

Period.

Their campaign ads clearly illustrate the complete and total disdain the treasury candidates have for Louisiana voters. They obviously think they can throw up (ahem) fake news and pseudo issues that leave voters in complete darkness about each candidate’s relative qualifications to hold the job.

And by so doing, they send a loud message that neither is qualified for—or deserving of—the job.

When John Kennedy, who had previously served as Secretary of Revenue, an appointive position, ran for treasurer in 1995, he ran a somewhat relevant ad that said, “When I was Secretary of the Department of Revenue, I reduced paperwork for small businesses by 150 percent.”

That ad carried a message that actually resonated with small business owners drowning in paperwork and which at least sounded germane to the office of state treasurer—never mind that it was physically impossible to reduce anything by 150 percent. Once you reduce something by 100 percent, you’re at zero.

All of this rant about the four candidates for treasurer and the lame campaign rhetoric of candidates for Baton Rouge mayor—and just about any other political office you can name—just illustrates to what lengths politicians will go to cloud the real issues and to shy away from discussing matters they can actually address when in office.

How many times have you heard a candidate for U.S. Representative or U.S. Senate implore you to send him to Washington so that he can “make a difference”?

It’s disingenuous at best, fraud at worst.

So, on Oct. 14, be sure to go to the polls and cast your vote for one of the four frauds running for treasurer.

It’s the Louisiana way.

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The fallout from last October’s cross-country drive to San Diego via the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas in a state police vehicle has resulted in the demotion of two state troopers who took part in the drive.

Lt. Rodney Hyatt was demoted to sergeant, and Capt. Derrell Williams was bumped down to lieutenant. Both troopers received corresponding reductions in pay along with their demotions.

Both men have the option of appealing their respective disciplinary actions.

But they didn’t go down without a fight and without throwing former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson, who was forced into retirement over the trip that also included a dozen other state police personnel, under the bus. It all comes down to “who do you believe?”

And Hyatt, so sure was he that he was blameless in the circuitous route taken by the four, recently applied for promotion to captain despite his pending demotion.

Moreover, Williams was cited for receiving a semi-nude photograph from a female friend on his state police email account via his state-issue cell phone and for transmitting a suggestive photo of himself to that same female friend on his state email account.

Both men fired off lengthy letters defending their actions to the State Police Internal Affairs Section that Williams once headed. In Hyatt’s case, his letter was 12 pages in length while Williams’s letter was 10 pages.

Hyatt, in particular, attempted to shift the blame for driving the state vehicle (which was assigned to then-Assistant Superintendent Charles Dupuy, for overstating his overtime, for staying in expensive hotels, and for visiting Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam along the way, to Edmonson.

Williams, for his part, said simply that “None of the (other) officers in the state vehicle were in my chain of command,” and that upon his return to Baton Rouge, Edmonson “signed off on my state credit card expenditures showing the prices and places where we stayed.”

The disciplinary letters from State Police Superintendent Col. Kevin Reeves to Hyatt and Williams were each 10 pages in length but the letter to Hyatt appeared to pack the most punch and its entire 10 pages were summed up in a single sentence:

“Your response merely attempts to shift responsibility for your actions to others,” Reeves said.

Still, it’s difficult to imagine that the four would have gone off on a sightseeing trip in a state vehicle without Edmonson’s knowledge and blessing.

Reeves also said that Hyatt not only submitted padded time sheets for hours not worked but that he forwarded copies of his time sheet to Troopers Thurman Miller and Alexandr Nezgodinsky, who also made the trip in the state vehicle, “to show them how to claim their time for the travel and training.”

Hyatt, in his letter said he was initially asked by Edmonson if he wanted to attend the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference that was held in conjunction with the State and Provincial Police Planning Officers Section (SPPPOS) meeting. Hyatt said he told Edmonson he did wish to attend both conferences at which point Edmonson said, “If you go, you have to drive.” He said Edmonson then said, “Take your wife and have a good time.”

“I have never taken my wife in my entire 20-year career to any work-related conference,” Hyatt said. “Had Edmonson not told me to, I would not have brought her. However, being a paramilitary organization, I took his order to mean that I am going to the conferences in San Diego, California with my wife, and we were to have a good time and drive there. Additionally, I followed his order because I did not want to violate Louisiana State Police Policy and Procedure, which states that I shall obey and execute all lawful orders of a superior officer.”

Moreover, Hyatt said it was Edmonson who suggested that the four troopers and Hyatt’s wife take the “northern route” because there was “nothing but desert along I-10.” That was the route that included the side trips to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Vegas.

Edmonson was quoted earlier this year when news of the trip first became public that he did not sign off on the side trip but Williams backed Hyatt’s version of events by saying he had “no doubt” that Edmonson knew the whereabouts of the four “at all times” during the trip.

On telling part of Hyatt’s letter as well as Reeves’s letter of demotion to Williams was the issue of text messages and emails on state cell phones.

LouisianaVoice requested copies of all such messages and photos, particularly those between the four troopers in the state vehicle and Edmonson months ago but was told by State Police Legal Affairs that no such messages existed.

Yet Hyatt, in his 12-page response alluded to emails, text messages and photographs sent by Hyatt’s wife to Edmonson throughout the trip.

And Reeves, in his letter, cited the sexually explicit photo sent to Williams’s state email account by a female friend and received on his cell phone and Williams’s photo of him straddling a cactus that he texted to that same lady friend.

Because the disciplinary letters and the responses are so lengthy, it has been decided that rather than try to relate what they said, it would be better to simply publish the links to the respective documents.

So here is the disciplinary letter to RODNEY HYATT, along with his response.

And here is the disciplinary letter to DERRELL WILLIAMS, followed by his response.

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Normally, I discount any and all get-rich-quick schemes on the premise if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

But now I have to admit I’ve inadvertently stumbled across the perfect path to prosperity that is fraught with few pitfalls other than a harmless disciplinary letter (which can be appealed anyway) and perhaps the scorn of more ethical co-workers. But who cares about that anyway?

And it’s not a pyramid scheme, so go on and put that thought aside.

In fact, in addition to potentially untold riches, there are other benefits—like cross-country vacations, trips to beautiful, historic places, and parties in balmy climates for an entire weekend.

So, here’s my plan and the more readers who participate, the better for all of us:

Find a convention, a seminar or any other such event that can be chalked up to business, preferably halfway across the country, say San Diego, for example. Check out a company vehicle, load up a few co-workers and maybe even a wife if you’re so inclined, and strike out. (Note: it has to be a company vehicle; a personal car would defeat the whole purpose. It would be even better if it is a car normally assigned to a company supervisor.)

As you travel, make it a leisurely drive, complete with side trips to places like Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. It’s okay if you send texts to your bosses along the way but be sure to save them and for goodness sake, put all photos on Facebook. I’ll explain why this is important momentarily.

And here’s where the big money comes in. As you travel, remember: You’re on the clock, even when you sleep. This is crucial! You are never off the clock the entire trip, even when you’re posing for those photos at those lovely landmarks to text to your supervisors (who, by the way, are going to delete their text messages so as not to leave a digital trail). If you work it right, each of you can claim 88 or so straight hours—at the overtime rate of about $53 an hour.

Yes, it’s payroll fraud, but who cares? You company isn’t going to prosecute you for this because you did what you did with the full knowledge and approval of your supervisors—and they’re certainly not talking. It doesn’t matter whether or not you personally knew it was wrong; you’re just following orders.

If you’ve already done the math, you know by now that you’ve pocketed about $4,600 in pay you did not earn but again, you did it with the knowledge and blessings of those up the chain of command. As you make this assertion, you now are thankful you followed my advice and kept those those text messages to prove that you were keeping the brass informed of your every move along the way. That could come in handy later.

When the fecal matter hits the Westinghouse oscillating air manipulation device, everyone of course runs for cover. Your bosses, in a united show of righteous indignation, say you were never authorized to take the scenic route to San Diego and of course their text messages are mysteriously empty.

Wait. What? You didn’t save your text messages? You bonehead! That was your insurance policy, your ace in the hole! Oh, well, if all of you stick together, you can still make this work.

In a classic CYA move, the company honchos conduct an in-house “investigation,” issue a letter of reprimand and make you pay back $1,000 of your ill-gotten gains. And as you file the obligatory appeal, you break out in that Cheshire cat grin in the knowledge that you’re $3,500 to the good with no suspension.

And this is where I come into the picture.

In exchange for my giving you this blueprint to riches, you pay me a finder’s fee of $1,000 and you’re still $2,500 and a nice vacation ahead.

LouisianaVoice has something north of 3,000 subscribers so if I can get just a third of that number to pull off this scam, I’m a millionaire and there are a lot of happy, tanned vacationers out there who are eternally grateful to me for this brilliant plan.

http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/crime_police/article_da072764-8f47-11e7-a6e8-775b365af741.html

State Police stock

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Subsequent to Wednesday’s report that one of the people suing Welsh Alderman Jacob Colby Perry for defamation because Perry had caused harm to his “long-standing positive reputation in his community and parish” was himself a convicted felon, LouisianaVoice has obtained copies of the judgment, the terms of his pleas agreement and the discharge of his supervised release.

William Joseph Johnson, Jr., his sister, his mother and the Welsh police chief, using the same attorney, each filed Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) actions against Perry after Perry and other members of the Welsh Board of Aldermen raised questions about the police department’s budget and other apparent irregularities in town operations. The petitions are all strikingly similar:

http://kplc.images.worldnow.com/library/3c6d9d70-6f92-486f-8178-f23865a4d4b4.pdf

http://kplc.images.worldnow.com/library/b60afd4c-5495-4c08-8937-42ee11b353a7.pdf

http://kplc.images.worldnow.com/library/a376b7f0-23ca-4ec8-9e38-3a2011944359.pdf

http://kplc.images.worldnow.com/library/49ad6c5b-fc47-4d03-ad27-4f7c88f0d5f0.pdf

Johnson’s mother, Carolyn Louviere, is mayor of Welsh and is the subject of a voter recall petition.

As for Johnson’s claim of a “long-standing positive reputation,” documents from U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana, indicate that Johnson entered into a plea bargain on three of 14 federal indictments on Nov. 20, 2011.

The three charges to which he entered guilty pleas all occurred in 2006 and stemmed from his defrauding a Natchitoches hotel of $77,000 by means of identity theft. Specifically, he entered guilty pleas to:

  • Two counts of bank fraud;
  • Nine counts of counterfeit securities;
  • Fourteen counts of aggravated identity theft.

Counts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 13 were dismissed as part of the plea bargain.

PLEA AGREEMENT

The charges stemmed from his theft from a Natchitoches hotel where he had gained employment using stolen identity and then proceeded to perpetrate fraud against the hotel.

He was sentenced to 34 months imprisonment on counts 2 and 9 to run concurrently, and 24 months as to count 14 to run consecutive to counts 2 and 9. He was also sentenced to five years supervised release upon release from prison and was ordered to make restitution in an amount to be determined by the court after a review of evidence and not necessarily limited to the amounts stolen from victims.

JUDGMENT

A concurrent sentence is not served but entered as a record and used in determining further sentencing. That means he was to serve only 34 months combined for counts 2 and 9. Consecutive terms are served, meaning his combined sentence was 58 months, or four years, 10 months.

At the time of his sentencing, Johnson was wanted on similar charges in Spokane, Washington, where he was said to have used identity theft to con his way into employment as financial controller for the Davenport Hotel in that city, a position that gave him access to the hotel’s financial operations.

The plea agreement was signed before Federal Judge Dee D. Drell by Johnson, his attorney, Billy J. Guin, Jr., of Shreveport, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cytheria D. Jernigan.

Johnson was paroled on March 30, 2015 and began his term of supervised release for a period of five years. On July 27 this year, on recommendation of his probation officer, Jill R. Wilson, Judge Drell discharged him from supervised release.

DISCHARGE OF SUPERVISED RELEASE

So now, his stellar reputation on the line, Johnson, along with his mother the mayor, his sister and the police chief, is going after a 24-year-old alderman for the Town of Welsh whose main concern is protecting the town’s treasury.

All things considered, who could blame Perry for being a little skittish about the town’s finances?

 

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