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LouisianaVoice’s October fundraiser is over, but we continue to offer a signed copy of my latest book Louisiana’s Rogue Sheriffs: A Culture of Corruption to anyone who contributes $100 or more.

This 355-page book paints a comprehensive picture of how sheriffs, the most powerful person in any parish, can—and do—abuse the powers vested in them. Instead of adhering to their oath of office in which they pledge to carry out the duties of their office in accordance with the laws of Louisiana and the Louisiana State Constitution, many sheriffs put profits over the public, giving priorities to filling jails with state prisoners—for pay—and in some cases, becoming involved in drugs, theft, prostitution, and gambling.

It begins with the 1951 New Orleans congressional hearings on organized crime by U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. That hearing revealed the active involvement in gambling, prostitution, and smuggling by the sheriffs of four Louisiana parishes.

It also includes accounts of:

  • A sheriff indicted by a federal grand jury for physical and mental abuse of prisoners, only to be acquitted, though several of his deputies were convicted and sentenced to prison;
  • A sitting sheriff sentenced to federal prison following his conviction of drug trafficking;
  • A former sheriff said to have been a bag man for Carlos Marcello;
  • A defeated sheriff who planted a bomb that blew off the foot of his successor;
  • A sheriff who conspired with the local district attorney to wrongly convict a national rodeo star of murder;
  • A sheriff whose office was leasing a marina for $1700 per month who, when the BP spill occurred, sub-let the marina to BP for staging its recovery efforts for a mind-boggling $1.7 million per month—paid to his department.

Those are only a few of the stories contained in this book. Traditionally, Louisiana citizens pay far too little attention to the actions of their sheriffs because, truth be told, they answer to no one—not Congress, not the president, not the governor, not to the legislature.

Former Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, once rumored to be considering a run for governor, responded, “Why would I want to be governor when I can be king?” No truer words were ever spoken in describing the powers entrusted to Louisiana sheriffs.

You can order the book by clicking on the oval yellow BUTTON in the column to the upper right of this post.

The button looks like this: Donate Button with Credit Cards

But don’t click on this image; it won’t work. Click on the button to the upper right.

If you can’t spring for a $100 contribution, you may still purchase a copy of the book for $30 (Amazon’s price is $35).

Be sure to provide your mailing address so I can get your book shipped out immediately.

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Loren Lampert, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association (LDAA), gets around.

And around.

Lampert began his career as a deputy sheriff in his native Rapides Parish before receiving his law degree from Oklahoma City University in 1996 and being named Assistant District Attorney, where he served for the next 13 years. While working for the Rapides DA, he was named that office’s Chief Felony Narcotics Prosecutor.

He has held a multitude of prosecutorial positions in several parishes in different judicial districts, some of them overlapping, in apparent violation of the state’s dual-officeholding statutes.

His documented odyssey of multi-tasking for various district attorneys had its beginnings as early as 2012 and continued through mid-September 2018.

In 2011, he became Chief of Police for the City of Alexandria and remained in that $150,000-per-year post until he was appointed as part-time Assistant District Attorney for Calcasieu Parish on May 9, 2017, earning $41.96 before being promoted just two months later to full-time at a six-figure salary.

But wait. We’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Lampert in the unique position of having served as a prosecutor, in more than one judicial district simultaneously—an apparent violation of the state’s dual-officeholding statutes.

His employment becomes rather murky after signing an Oath of Office as Assistant District for the 14th JDC in May 2017 pursuant to his appointment to that position by DA John DeRosier. KTBS-TV in Shreveport ran a story on Oct. 23, 2017, about the Natchitoches Parish conviction of a man accused of crashing into a Natchitoches police vehicle, injuring three officers.

The last paragraph of that story said, “Assistant District Attorney Loren Lampert prosecuted the case.”

And in a letter to the secretary of state dated Nov. 2, 2017, by 10th JDC (that would be Natchitoches Parish) District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington, the appointment of Loren M. Lampert as assistant district attorney “effective 8/30/17,” was announced. A copy of Lampert’s oath of office also accompanied that letter.

That’s less than four months after he signed on as a part-time assistant DA for Calcasieu Parish and only six weeks after that part-time position had been super-sized to ADMINISTRATIVE FIRST ASSISTANT DA in DeRosier’s office on July 17, 2017, at a SALARY salary of $105,000, which was increased to $106,068 on Dec. 18, even though he continued living in Alexandria, not Calcasieu, all that time.

Sources claim that Lampert’s appointment by DeRosier was a means of grooming him for bigger and better things.

In June 2018, according to a story in the Natchitoches Times, Lampert was also the prosecutor in ANOTHER CASE involving a man subsequently found guilty three of four charges involving a disturbance at the Natchitoches Parish courthouse.

In other words, he was being paid a six-figure salary as First Assistant DA in Calcasieu while also being paid as a prosecutor in Natchitoches Parish in 2017 and 2018—all the while living in Rapides.

But it gets murkier still.

KALB-TV in Alexandria ran a story on July 3, 2018, announcing that Lampert “has been named the ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR of the LDAA and is on the fast track to transition to the top spot as executive director next summer.”

Lampert submitted his resignation as DeRosier’s Administrative First Assistant DA on Sept. 13, 2018 and his last day with the Calcasieu DA’s office was Sept. 28.

Today, Lampert appears to have finally settled into one position as EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the Louisiana District Attorney’s Association, succeeding long time Executive Director Pete Adams upon the latter’s retirement.

But maybe not. In May of this year, well into his tenure as associate director of LDAA, the omnipresent Lampert was still working as an assistant DA in Calcasieu, serving as prosecutor in the case of Felton Felmon Thompson, charged with first-degree murder.

“We did a general request for resumes and interest in the position,” Adams said in announcing Lampert’s hiring as associate director in July 2018. “Loren was one of many candidates who applied. He was clearly number-one in the selection process. And he was approved by the board,” Adams said.

It must seem like old times to Lampert who, along with DeRosier, previously served as an LDAA board member. DeRosier served as president of the board in 2012-2013. Lampert served as a board member in 2017-2018.

And as LDAA’s new executive director, he will continue working with a 2019-2020 BOARD OF DIRECTORS that included at least one familiar member: Natchitoches Parish DA Harrington.

Here are copies of Lambert’s OATHS OF OFFICE  which show the overlapping times of employment by the four district attorneys.

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“I believe love is the answer, but you oughta own a handgun, just in case.” October 2016

“Our country was founded by geniuses, but it’s being run by idiots.” January 2018 (stolen from Jeff Foxworthy, who stole it from Fritz Edmunds (whoever that is).

“I’d rather drink weed killer than support Obamacare.” October 2016.

“It must suck to be that dumb.” November 6, 2019, of Nancy Pelosi at a Trump rally in Monroe.

 

Louisiana Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who obviously is the rejected love child incarnate of Will Rogers and LBJ—but with only half the wit of the former and none of the charisma of the latter.

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You can’t pick up a newspaper, go to an online news service, or turn on television news these days without hearing the term quid pro quo, invariably associated with that July phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine.

But back home, there’s another quid pro quo involving a local elected official in Southwest Louisiana.

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning an exchange of goods or services, in which one transfer is contingent upon the other. More familiar colloquial terms might be “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” or “One hand washes the other.”

quid pro quo

/ˌkwid ˌprō ˈkwō/

noun

a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier knows what the term mean—he has known since at least 2011.

A Washington Post STORY published last Friday (Nov. 1) goes into great detail in explaining how DeRosier’s office allows—encourages—offenders to literally buy their way out of community service by purchasing gift cards and money orders for the DA’s office which ostensibly were to be used for charitable purposes but which in reality were sometimes used to purchase gifts for staff members, their grandchildren and other relatives.

Of course, even when the gift cards are used for their intended purpose—to purchase toys and gifts for underprivileged children—it doesn’t hurt his reelection chances when the gifts are distributed very publicly from a fire truck that makes its way through neighborhoods, giving DeRosier ample opportunity to shake hands and to be seen handing out the gifts—all purchased not with campaign funds, but from the parish coffers.

Some of the gift cards even went to DeRosier’s friends and political supporters, even journalists.

Even after DeRosier established a non-profit foundation, the District Attorney’s Community Assistance Foundation (DACAF) in 2015, spotty record-keeping makes it impossible to document precisely how the gift cards are distributed and for what purpose.

First elected in 2005 in a special election, DeRosier, a Democrat, has served as Calcasieu Parish’s DA for 14 years and has established himself as a tough on crime DA, opposing a move to end life without parole for juveniles and even testifying against the 2018 successful constitutional amendment to require unanimous jury verdicts to convict in felony cases.

And he was quick to hire Hugo Holland and Lea Hall after they were fired by the Caddo Parish DA for falsifying a federal application to obtain automatic M-16 rifles from a military surplus program. He hired Holland because of his reputation as a strong advocate of the death penalty.

Since DeRosier first took office in 2005, revenue from fines and fees associated with pre-trial diversion programs has skyrocketed from $182,000 that first year to $5.9 million in 2017, a 30-fold increase.

Much of that revenue has come from a program called Local Agency Compensated Enforcement (LACE), a program which has come under criticism in Calcasieu, Orleans and other parishes which resulted in the temporary suspension of the program by State Police at one point.

Under LACE, local district attorneys pay overtime to state troopers and occasionally local police to stop motorists for traffic violations. Motorists are then given the choice of either taking the ticket or promising to make a direct payment to the DA’s office’s pre-trial diversion program, i.e. indirectly to the DA’s charitable foundation.

That negatively impacts local public defender offices which are already underfunded. For every traffic ticket that goes through the courts, the local public defender’s office gets $45 but for tickets issued through LACE, the public defender’s office gets nothing unless the local DA agrees to share, which isn’t often.

And when public defender’s budgets are cut—LACE tickets tripled while the number of conventional traffic tickets in Calcasieu dropped by 42 percent from 2011 to 2012—representation of indigent defenders necessarily suffers. With no money to retain expert witnesses—while prosecutors have virtually unlimited funds to hire their experts—the opportunity to discover exculpatory evidence or refute expert witnesses is non-existent. And while no one knows the precise number, there are documented cases of innocent defendants being convicted and sent to prison, some to death row.

And while the foundation is required to undergo regular audits, DeRosier has refused to make the audit reports available to reporters.

Likewise, the DA’s office is required to undergo an annual public audit of its finances. The audit of DeRosier’s office contains no line-item for gift care revenue or is the gift card program even mentioned in the audits.

But then, Nicholas Langley, the head of LANGLEY, WILLIAMS, the firm that conducts the audits, is a member of the foundation’s BOARD of DIRECTORS. Additionally, Langley once served as DeRosier’s campaign manager and he, his family and his firm have donated at least $23,000 since 2005 to DeRosier’s campaigns and his firm has in turn been paid $32,000 by DeRosier’s campaign for accounting services.

Quid pro quo.

 

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Livingston Parish, where I have live, is just across the Amite River from East Baton Rouge Parish and many of the people who live here work in Baton Rouge. Among those commuters are Baton Rouge City Police officers, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s deputies, and Louisiana State Troopers.

This once quiet, largely rural parish is no more. Thanks to a mass exodus from East Baton Rouge Parish by those desiring better schools and cheaper land, the population has exploded since I moved here in 1981. With the growth, however, necessarily comes problems and Livingston has certainly had its share in recent weeks and months.

In fact, if you travel east on I-12 out of Baton Rouge, you will encounter three successive parishes where arrests of law enforcement officials and stories of questionable behavior on the part of judges have shaken once peaceful communities heretofore insulated from the sordid stories of illicit sex and judicial misconduct normally found in larger cities. The parishes of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Livingston are peppered with law enforcement and legal officials currently residing in jail.

  • In Livingston Parish, a sheriff’s deputy and his wife, a junior high school teacher, are being held without bond after their arrest on CHILD RAPE AND PORNOGRAPHY
  • In Tangipahoa Parish, which is in the same judicial district at Livingston, the 21st JDC, the state paid a legal settlement of $100,000 over a malicious prosecution lawsuit against 32nd JDC Judge Elizabeth Wolfe.
  • A former Hammond city council member claimed in a sworn affidavit last Wednesday that Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Jeff Hughes, III, offered him $5,000 to switch his endorsement in the Nov. 16 runoff for an open seat on the state’s high court. (Hughes formerly held the same Division F seat in the 21st JDC now held by Judge Wolfe.)
  • In December 2016, the FBI raided the offices of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, the Hammond Police Department and arrested longtime DEA agent and former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s deputy Chad Scott, who was subsequently convicted on seven counts that included perjury, obstruction of justice and falsification of government records.

According to former council member Johnny Blount, HUGHES approached him and offered him $5,000 to switch his endorsement of 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Will Crain, supported by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) in favor of 5th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Hans Liljeberg, favored by trial lawyers, particularly the Baton Rouge firm of Talbot, Carmouche and Marcello, one of the leading firms fighting the oil and gas industry in the state.

If the allegation is true, it would raise a number of questions about judicial ethics, according to New Orleans Advocate columnist JAMES GILL.

Hughes has declined to comment on Blount’s claim, but in a separate case involving allegations of misconduct in a controversial child custody case that attracted the attention of federal investigators, he responded to reporters’ inquiries by referring them as “idiots.”

Perhaps the bad vibes emanating from the 21st JDC is a spillover from the adjacent 22nd JDC.

  • Former St. Tammany District Attorney WALTER READ was sentenced to four years in prison in 2017 for political corruption and his son was given five years’ probation, prompting the elder Read to call it “a good day.”
  • Former St. Tammany Parish Sheriff JACK STRAIN was arrested in July on charges of aggravated rape, sexual battery, incest, and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Whatever the reason, residents of Livingston and Tangipahoa must be wondering what it takes to have a community where it’s safe to raise children without having to be concerned about the behavior of judges, district attorneys, teachers and cops.

That is not, of course, to paint all such public servants with the same broad brush. That would be grossly unfair to all the excellent teachers, judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials who show up for work every day wanting only to do their jobs in the way that is in the best interests of their fellow citizens.

Livingston Parish Sheriff’s deputy Dennis Perkins, who along with his wife, was arrested last month for child pornography and child rape, was hired on the recommendation of then-deputy Jason Ard in 2001 and earlier for the Walker Police Department. Ard also served a reference for Perkins during his application for that position.

Perkins came under investigation by the Walker Police Department in 2002 when records show he took sick leave to attend a wedding but was seen by a coworker at a bar and later took a week of sick leave to attend the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office training center in violation of orders not to attend.

In 2014, an officer from a different agency contacted Ard, who by then was sheriff, to allege that Perkins had an affair with the agent’s wife and that he inappropriately touched a teenage girl in his family. Ard said he asked Perkins about the allegations and he denied them and the investigation went no further.

Ard now calls Perkins “monstrous,” but the fact remains that the head of the sheriff’s office’s SWAT team and his wife flew under the radar for a long time.

And innocent children suffered.

As for Judge Wolfe, she waded into a domestic dispute between a woman who divorced her husband who had been rendered a quadriplegic and unable to speak because of a brain aneurysm to marry the judge’s stepson.

The disabled man, Daniel Hoover was living in a medical facility. He communicated to his childhood friend, Scott Lemoine, that his wife had taken everything from him, sold their house, gave away his ruck and tolls, and was keeping him from seeing their young son.

Lemoine posted comments online suggesting Wolfe had abused her judicial position.

Wolfe, in an INCREDIBLE ADMISSION for a sitting judge, admitted in her deposition, “OK. I can’t tell you about the First Amendment protection because I don’t know exactly what would or wouldn’t be. I haven’t studied it in a long time.” Obviously, she was absent from law school on Bill of Rights Day.

So, duly ignorant of that section of the Constitution, she met with Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s deputy Toby Aguillard who, after booking Lemoine on suspicion of cyber stalking, in an equally incredible move, twice called Wolfe’s husband to suggest that Judge Wolfe call the duty judge, Robert Morrison, to increase Lemoine’s bail in order to keep him locked up.

In what could pass for an episode of Judges Gone Wild, if such show were to ever be made, Judge Morrison obligingly increase Lemoine’s bail from $25,000 to $100,000 and ordered him to wear a GPS ankle bracelet if he did make bail. Morrison would later admit that he increased bail in response to a phone request but conveniently, could not remember who made the request.

When Lemoine’s family was prepared to post bail the sheriff’s office—conveniently again—discovered it was out of GPS gear, meaning Lemoine had to remain in jail.

But this story gets even better and is worthy of some sort of bizarre comedy skit were it not such a tragedy of due process.

Two days after his arrest, based on the dubious “testimony” of a jailhouse snitch, Lemoine was booked again—this time on a felony count of solicitation of murder. Inmate Brian Register claimed Lemoine offered him $10,000 to kill Judge Wolfe. He even offered a note he said Lemoine had written on how to make a pipe bomb.

Register later sent Wolfe two letters. First, he identified himself as the inmate who had “set up” Lemoine and asked her advice should federal authorities or Lemoine’s attorneys question him. Then, in the second letter, he thanked Judge Wolfe for sending a public defender to see him and asked her to reduce his bail amount, adding, “I’m going to testify on Scott Lemoine for you!”

and that note on the making of pipe bombs Register said were written by Lemoine? It was later found to have been written in Register’s handwriting instead.

The upshot of the whole sordid affair was Lemoine sued, the state defended Judge Wolfe at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers, and the state ended up settling for an amount that was disclosed: $100,000.

The masthead on this blog reads, “Graft, Lies & Politics—A Monument to Corruption.”

It also says right under that: “It is understandable when a child is afraid of the dark but unforgivable when a man (or woman) fears the light.”

Thanks to some excellent reporting by The Baton Rouge Advocate and New Orleans Advocate, that light continues to shine.

But in the end, it is you, the voter, who makes the choices on who will serve as our law enforcement officials, our prosecutors, and our judges. Make the wrong choices based solely on television sound bites, and people get hurt.

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