Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘State Police’ Category

The latest news coming out of Lake Charles regarding one of four state troopers charged with malfeasance and 74 counts of injuring public records is the defense offered up by his attorney, the same attorney who loves to file SLAPP lawsuits against a Welsh city alderman.

Oh, and there’s the revelation that former State Trooper Jimmy Rogers, who resigned in the middle of a Louisiana State Police (LSP) internal affairs investigation, still holds—or recently held—a commission from the DEQUINCY POLICE DEPARTMENT.

Rogers attempted to return to LSP when he sent an email to Troop D Commander Benny Broussard on March 7 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.”

Yeah, well, actually, those altered tickets are exactly what those 74 felony counts are all about and about which Calcasieu Parish DISTRICT ATTORNEY John DeRosier says he is “in the process of preparing formal charges.”

DeRosier said he was “going to assume that there’s a financial benefit” to Rogers’s practice of jotting an incorrect time on all those tickets ostensibly written while working Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE) patrol. LACE is a cooperative program in which local district attorneys pay state police for beefed-up patrol to catch traffic offenders.

The financial benefit to Rogers, at least theoretically, would be that he wrote his tickets early in his shift but put later times to make it appear he worked his entire shift when in reality, he would go home early after writing a few tickets. DeRosier might be taking that offense a little personally since it is his office that pays for those hours that Rogers is accused of not working.

But no matter. Rogers apparently has this captivating voice that should be sufficient to beat the rap. You see, according to his attorney, Ron Richard, Rogers is a man “who probably sang the national anthem at more events in this town than anyone else” and is confident “both in himself and his faith in God that he will be vindicated and all will be made right in the end.”

Good to know. But…but…but Rogers put it in writing back on March 7 that he was guilty of falsifying the times. Which brings up the obvious question: Will Richard have him sing the national anthem on the stand during his trial? Apparently, Richard thinks that is important.

This is the same attorney who filed a so-called SLAPP (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation or, if you will, frivolous or harassment) LAWSUIT against Welsh Alderman Jacob Colby Perry on behalf of four separate clients—the Welsh mayor, her daughter, her son, and the town’s police chief.

They lost and had to pay Perry’s legal fees of some $16,000.

If convicted, Rogers could be facing up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000—on each count.

Now, Dequincy, about that Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement commission you issued to Rogers when you hired him as a reserve police officer….

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.”

Read Full Post »

Anyone remember Allyson Campbell?

If not, that’s understandable. After all, it’s been a couple of years since we had a STORY about her exploits in the 4th Judicial Court in Monroe. She’s the Monroe News-Star society columnist who showed up occasionally at her supposed full-time job as law clerk for 4th JDC Judge Wilson Rambo (gotta love that name; wonder if they have a judge named Rocky?).

On Wednesday, 12 of the 13 judges of the First Circuit Court of Appeal (only Judge Curtis Calloway did not hear arguments) dealt the self-promoting columnist/clerk a major setback when it ruled in an en banc (full court) decision that she does not enjoy “absolute immunity” from her actions in destroying court files and that a lawsuit against her may go forward.

But it was the dissenting opinion of one of the three judges who gave written opinions that makes for the best reading.

The ruling comes nearly two years after Louisiana Inspector General STEPHEN STREET found there was no “sufficient cause” to bring charges against Campbell for what witnesses said were repeated instances of her destroying or concealing trial briefs. For that matter, Louisiana State Police and the Louisiana Attorney General’s office also declined to pursue the matter, leaving only one state official, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, with the integrity and courage to call Campbell out for her actions.

She was also the central figure in:

  • The controversy that erupted when the Ouachita Citizen made a legal request for public records from the court—and was promptly sued by the judges for seeking those same public records.
  • The filing of a lawsuit by Judge Sharon Marchman against four fellow judges and Campbell over Campbell’s claiming time worked when she was actually absent—including time when she was in restaurants and/or bars for which she claimed time—and the four judges who Judge Marchman said were complicit in covering for her.
  • A complaint by Monroe attorney Cody Rials that Campbell had boasted in a local bar that she had destroyed Rials’ court document in a case he had pending before Judge Carl Sharp so that Sharp could not review it. One witness interviewed by Judges Sharp and Ben Jones quoted Campbell as saying that she had “taken great pleasure I shredding Rials’ judgment” and that she had given Rials a “legal f—ing.”

Now a DECISION by the First Circuit Court of Appeal, in overturning a lower court’s 2015 decision, has held that a lawsuit by Stanley Palowsky, III, against Campbell for damages incurred when she “spoliated, concealed, removed, destroyed, shredded, withheld, and/or improperly handled” his petition for damages against former business partner Brandon Cork may proceed.

At the same time, the First Circuit ruled that the five judges he added as defendants—Stephens Winters, Sharp, Rambo, Frederic Amman and Jones—for allowing Campbell “free rein to do as she pleased and then conspiring to conceal (her) acts” enjoyed “absolute immunity” from being sued and were dismissed as defendants despite their repeated denials that any documents were missing from the Palowsky file.

Palowsky argued that Campbell undertook her acts with malice and to obtain advantages for his opponents in the lawsuit. Moreover, he argued that Campbell’s supervising judges, Amman and Rambo, “did not just sit back quietly and let Campbell commit such acts, they actively worked and schemed to cover up her actions.”

Palowsky also said that Campbell’s wrongdoings “have been reported time and again by different attorneys in different cases and investigated time and again by defendant judges but have nevertheless been allowed to continue. It is now painfully apparent that not only has Campbell been unsupervised and uncontrollable for years, but defendant judges have actively schemed to allow her conduct to continue unabatedly (sic).”

Campbell, who doubles as a society columnist of sorts (if one really stretches the definition of the term) for the News-Star, is obviously her own biggest fan—unless you count her stated infatuation for Cork’s attorney Thomas Haynes, III, about whom she wrote in one of her columns that he…had the “IT” factor, “a somewhat undefinable quality that makes you and everyone else around stand taller when they enter the room, listen a little more closely, encourage you to take fashion or life risks, make each occasion a little more fun and generally inspire you to aim to achieve that ‘IT’ factor for yourself.”

If they taught that method of courtroom coverage in my Louisiana Tech journalism classes, I must have been absent that day.

Needless to say, the First Circuit upheld the lower court in expunging that paragraph from Palowsky’s petition.

In fact, the lower court struck 46 paragraphs from his lawsuit against Campbell and the five judges, but the First Circuit restored 21 paragraphs to the petition. The 25 it allowed to remain removed involved matters not directly related to Campbell’s alleged destruction of files, the judges said.

In 2014, Campbell published a column entitled, “A Modern Guide to Handle Your Scandal,” in which she wrote, “Half the fun is getting there, and the other half is in the fix.” She then went on to advise her readers to “keep the crowd guessing. Send it out—lies, half-truths, gorilla dust, whatever you’ve got.” She told readers, “You’re no one until someone is out to get you.”

(There’s a line in there somewhere about Trump, but it’s just too easy.)

In July 2015, she wrote in her column, “It’s not cheating if it’s in our favor.”

That paragraph was removed from Palowsky’s petition as was one that noted that on one occasion, 52 writ applications went missing for more than a year before it was discovered that Campbell had used the applications as an end table in her office.

Say what?!!?

One paragraph left in the petition was one in which Palowsky pointed out that the five judges might not be out of the woods yet, if the Louisiana Judiciary Commission does its job. The Louisiana State Constitution provides as follows: “On recommendation of the judiciary commission, the (Louisiana) Supreme Court may censure, suspend with or without salary, remove from office, or retire involuntarily a judge for willful misconduct relating to his official duty, willful and persistent failure to perform his duty, persistent and public conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute, conduct while in office which could constitute a felony, or conviction of a felony.”

It would appear in consideration of the judicial protection of Campbell, a case could be made that the judges are guilty at least of slipshod management at best and criminal malfeasance at worst.

All the judges in the 4th JDC recused themselves when Palowsky sued and his case was heard by Ad Hoc Judge Jerome Barbera, III, who cited in his Dec. 11, 2015, ruling dismissing the five judges as defendants an 1871 ruling that said, “It is a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to himself.”

Even though Palowsky was claiming that the judges protected Campbell despite their full knowledge of what she had done, Barbera said, “Allegations of bad faith or malice are not sufficient to overcome judicial immunity.”

Another way of putting it is that the judges are untouchable and that their edicts, like those of the Pope, are infallible, divinely inspired.

Barbera extended the immunity to Campbell but the First Circuit opinion, written by  Judge Page McClendon, overturned Barbera on that point. While two of the Appeal Court judges, Vanessa Whipple and Guy Holdridge upheld immunity for the five district court judges in their written opinions, all three rejected the idea of immunity for Campbell and all three voted to reinstate 21 of the paragraphs in Palowsky’s petition.

But it was that third judge, William Crain, who wrote that none of the defendants deserved immunity from events in the 4th JDC.

“Judicial immunity is of the highest order of importance in maintaining an independent judiciary, free of threats or intimidation. But it is a judge-created doctrine policed by judges.” (emphasis mine)

He also said that when judicial actors “perform non-judicial acts, they are not protected by this otherwise sweeping immunity doctrine.

“The duty to maintain records in cases involves many non-judicial actors and can only be considered a ministerial, not judicial act,” he wrote.

“For the same reasons (that) the law clerk is not immunized for her non-judicial acts related to maintaining court records, the judges are not immunized for allegedly aiding, abetting, then concealing those acts. Failing to supervise a law clerk relative to a non-judicial act is not a judicial act for purposes of immunity.

“The doctrine of judicial immunity does not shield judicial actors from civil liability for criminal acts (and) while later cases suggest judicial immunity extends even to judicial acts performed with malice, those cases do not immunize judicial actors from criminal conduct grounded in malice or corruption.

“Extending the doctrine of judicial immunity to include civil liability for alleged criminal conduct, as in this case, risks undermining the public’s trust in the judiciary, which I cannot countenance.”

So, how, you might ask, has Campbell managed to withstand the barrage of charges of payroll fraud, absenteeism, records destruction, and critical audit reports and still keep her job?

And continue to flaunt her actions in a newspaper column?

That can be explained in one word: Connections.

Campbell’s father is George Campbell, an executive with Regions Bank. George Campbell is married to the daughter of influential attorney Billy Boles who was instrumental in the growth of Century Telephone and who is a major contributor to various political campaigns.

Allyson Campbell is also the sister of Catherine Creed of the Monroe personal injury law firm of Creed and Creed. Christian Creed, Campbell’s brother-in-law, contributed $5,000 to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s 2015 campaign, which could explain, in part, why the AG backed off its investigation of Campbell the following year.

In a town the size of Monroe, those connections are sufficient, apparently.

Read Full Post »

Where to start.

There are so many inconsistencies and short circuiting of the system by the State Ethics Board regarding those four state troopers who went sightseeing to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas en route to San Diego in October 2016 that one has to wonder if the board exists in some sort of parallel universe.

The ethics board last month CLEARED the four troopers of any wrongdoing even though they knowingly went several hundred miles out of the way to make their side trip—for which they claimed to be on the clock and were paid overtime.

First of all, the board concluded that they four were instructed by their then-boss, State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson to take the “northern” route in their drive to San Diego, the route that took them on their taxpayer-paid sightseeing vacation.

But regardless of whether Edmonson so instructed or not, the Louisiana State Police (LSP) Policy and Procedure Manual addresses the very issue of carrying out orders that are contrary to state law.

It’s right there in black and white on page 360:

  • “A commissioned officer shall promptly obey and execute any and all lawful orders of a superior officer. A “lawful order” is any order or assignment issued either verbally or in writing by a superior or ranking officer.” (emphasis mine)
  • “A commissioned officer shall not obey any order which he knows, or should have known, would require him to commit an illegal act. If in doubt as to the legality of an order, officers shall request the issuing officer to clarify the order.” (emphasis mine)

Of course, the decision—or perhaps non-decision would be a better description—sets up the four for a strong appeal of their discipline imposed by Edmonson’s successor, Col. Kevin Reeves.

In demoting Rodney Hyatt and Derrell Williams and reducing their pay, Reeves admonished them for “indifference” to what he called the “common sense notion” that it is not proper to claim pay for time when they were sightseeing or sleeping. Hyatt was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant and Williams from major and head of LSP’s Internal Affairs, to lieutenant.

Their appeal claims that their discipline was improper on procedural grounds because LSP took too long to complete its internal affairs investigation. They say the agency violated its owns policies by failing to request an extension of the internal investigation within 60 days.

But wait.

Back on June 8, retired state trooper Leon “Bucky” Millet appeared before the State Police Commission and advised commissioners of his belief that LSP was not adhering to commission rules regarding timely conducting investigations.

That was during the time that the commission seemed to be deliberately dragging its feet in its investigation, presumably on the pretense that there were vacancies on the commission and it was desired that new members coming onto the commission should have an opportunity to participate in the investigation.

In response to Millet’s concerns, Lt. Col. Mike Noel specifically said it was permissible for an employee to agree to an extension of time in accordance with the police officer’s Bill of Rights—and that the employees in question (Hyatt and Williams) “have agreed to the extension,” (emphasis mine) according to OFFICIAL MINUTES of that June 8 meeting published on the commission website.

State police are in a unique position in that they do not fall under the jurisdiction of the State Civil Service Commission but instead come under the moribund State Police Commission which is more prone to rubber-stamping recommendations to not investigate political activity by the Louisiana State Troopers Association.

Millet was told by the Board of Ethics on April 24, 2017, that the board declined to investigate as activity by two commission members because the LSTA “is not a public entity subject to the ethics code which includes the whistleblower statute.”

Yet, the ethics commission fined LSTA and its executive director David Young $5,000 for the LSTA’s action of funneling political contributions to political candidates, including but not limited to Bobby Jindal and John Bel Edwards, through Young’s personal bank account.

Some observers might call the claim that it had no jurisdiction over LSTA because it “is not a public entity” and the $5,000 fine inconsistent.

But hey, to be fair, consistency has been the hallmark of both the State Police Commission and the Ethics Board. They both have been consistently weak. Consistently able to avoid doing their jobs. Consistently ineffective and irrelevant. Consistently useless.

Read Full Post »

Just when you thought enough had been written about the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), wouldn’t you know that the organization sent out solicitation letters to three members it had kicked out a couple of years back because they questioned the group’s political activity?

Talk about adding insult to injury.

But that isn’t really the story here. What’s interesting about this solicitation is that the Spring 2018 edition of Trooper Talk actually appears to sending out a not-so-subtle message that if you contribute enough money, you will get a handy little magnetic decal to stick on your vehicle to alert troopers that you gave and probably shouldn’t get a ticket for doing 85 in a 65.

Full disclosure: the story at the top of the page is an LSTA story about the appointment of Col. Kevin Reeves as Superintendent of State Police. Reeves is in no way connected to the LSTA fundraiser. This bulletin is published independent of Louisiana State Police.

And while the LSTA loves to point out how many wonderful projects it supports via its fundraisers, this time the solicitation seems to go out of its way to assure donors that, except for the cost of the newsletter and the decals, 100 percent of the money stays with the LSTA.

Maybe that’s because the LSTA is confident that the State Police Commission, the state police equivalent to the Louisiana Civil Service Commission, won’t lift a finger to investigate the association for its POLITICAL ACTIVITY even though such activity is clearly illegal.

The commission already has hired Natchitoches attorney Taylor Townsend under a $75,000 contract to conduct a non-investigation investigation of tens of thousands of dollars of LSTA political contributions funneled through the private bank account of its executive director David Young.

So, now there’s this Trooper Talk which informs potential donors that any contribution will get them a couple of window stickers that will, in case you are pulled over for a traffic violation, tell troopers that you are a cheapskate who wouldn’t even pony up $50. But if you give between $50 and $100, you will get a dandy “Silver Distinguished Donors badge.” Those donors will also be entered twice in a drawing for a vacation for two in the Canal Street Inn Bed and Breakfast in New Orleans.

Now this is just any old silver distinguished donors badge. It has a genuine magnetic back “and should be placed on the driver’s side of your vehicle’s trunk or rear door.” (emphasis added.) (Now, why would they suggest placing them there? For better trooper visibility perhaps, hmmm?)

What about those who give $100 or more? Good question. Those generous supporters will get a “Gold Distinguished Donors badge” and four chances at that dream vacation in New Orleans. Those benefactors will also be recognized on the LSTA website. (The site is visited by our troopers and the LSTA personnel,” the solicitation letter said (wink, wink).

And while the letter stresses that the money will remain with the LSTA, it would be unfair not to point out that the organization does do considerable charitable work with children and the families of troopers killed in the line of duty.

On the other hand, however, the LSTA recently announced that it was providing monetary assistance to members who were victims of the 2016 floods in Louisiana. But several retired troopers who also victims of the same floods complained that they received no assistance whatsoever.

Some of those same retirees have filed a complaint with State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge about the latest fundraising solicitation and its indirect suggestion that a large enough donation might help donors avoid a ticket.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »