Iberia Sheriff’s Trial 10/31


Iberia sheriff’s civil rights violation trial set Oct. 31 in Shreveport

By Gary Hines

The trial of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal, who is charged with directing the beatings of prisoners by his deputies, will be held in Shreveport because of extensive publicity surrounding the case in Acadiana.

The trial will begin Oct. 31 at the United States Court House. It is expected to last two weeks.

Scheduled to be tried along with Ackal are a top supervisor in the sheriff’s department and a former captain. All have pleaded not guilty.

Nine other deputies have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the federal investigation alleging a series of beatings inside the Iberia Parish jail’s chapel.

Prosecutors said inmates were beaten there because there were no surveillance cameras. Ackal allegedly directed the beatings, telling deputies to “take care” of certain inmates. The indictment against Ackal also alleges some inmates were beaten because they were accused of making improper comments toward deputies, while one inmate had complained about jail conditions.

Former Monroe City Councilman Disbarred


Upon review of the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee and disciplinary board, and considering the record, briefs, and oral argument, it is ordered that Arthur Gilmore, Jr., Louisiana Bar Roll number 1059, be and he hereby is disbarred, retroactive to June 9, 2013, the date of his most recent interim suspension. Respondent shall also be given credit for the time he served on interim suspension during the period of June 19, 2011 to September 21, 2011 and during the period of May 2, 2012 to April 3, 2013. Respondent’s name shall be stricken from the roll of attorneys and his license to practice law in the State of Louisiana shall be revoked. All costs and expenses in the matter are assessed against respondent in ccordance with Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 10.1, with legal interest to commence thirty days from the date of finality of this court’s judgment until paid.

See here complete decree.

Iberia Parish Clerk of Court Cited


Iberia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office Improperly Kept Unused Advance Court Cost Money, Failed to Report Unclaimed Property

An investigation into the Iberia Parish Clerk of Court’s Office found that the Clerk of Court improperly kept $314,495 in unused advance court costs and failed to remit unclaimed property to the state Treasurer as required by law, the Legislative Auditor said in a report released today.

Investigative auditors found that between May 2013 and May 2016, the Clerk of Court transferred $218,021 from the office’s advance deposit bank account to the office’s salary fund bank account to pay salaries and other expenses. State law requires that the money be returned to the individuals who originally deposited the money. An additional $96,924 currently in the advance deposit fund also should be returned to the people who made the original deposits, the state auditor said.

Under state law, clerks of courts are required to collect advance funds from individuals when they file lawsuits. The money is used to pay for services performed by the clerk of court and other governmental agencies, such as opening civil matters, filing and serving civil pleadings, giving notice, making copies, certifying copies, etc.

Once a lawsuit is concluded and all fees and other charges of record are paid, clerks of court must refund unused advance costs to the person who posted the deposit. They also must refund unused advance costs even when a lawsuit is not concluded if no pleadings have been filed and the suit has been completely inactive for five years.

In addition, auditors found that the Clerk of Court failed to report and remit unclaimed property to the state Treasurer. Under state law, any unclaimed property must be sent to the state Treasurer each year. An examination of office records showed that checks issued to original depositors from the Clerk of Court’s advance deposit fund were not presented to the bank, which resulted in outstanding checks. The office reissued at least 334 of these outstanding checks – which totaled $47,611 – and deposited them in the Clerk of Court’s salary fund in April 2012.

See here the complete report.

Ford Lawsuit Testimony Ends


Testimony concluded late yesterday morning at Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston, for a Civil Bench Trial, Ford v Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1.

Division A Judge Cynthia Woodard told the attorneys to have their briefs submitted within three weeks. She is expected to rule within a couple of months.

Ford is suing the agency for “comp time,” insurance costs, and penalties. He is demanding almost $500 thousand, plus attorney fees.

Taking the stand on behalf of the defendant fire district was former Chief Neil Kirkland. He testified that for the ten years that he was chief (1993-2003) he never was given “comp time” for any overtime hours he worked. He said that if he had to work late or on weekends, he considered that part of his job duties and wasn’t due paid compensation for it.

However, he said that if he needed to take off, he did so as long as it didn’t conflict with job duties.

Current Fire Chief Kevin Reynolds also testified that he does not record or take “comp time.” Not so, hourly employees, Reynolds said. Their time sheets reflect any extra hours worked, for which they are compensated.

During testimony of district Board of Commissioners Chair Richard Aillet, there was discussion of a change in medical insurance carriers and what retired employees are covered.

At present, Kirkland is the only retiree with paid medical coverage.

In his suit, Ford claims that as a retiree, he is also due paid medical coverage. A set of minutes was introduced into evidence that shows the intent of the board was to provide retirees with coverage, Ford’s attorney said.

Ford’s attorney is Daniel Street. Representing the district is Shreveport Attorney Michael Lowe.

LPPJ Refers Jail Expansion to Finance Committee


Discussion of Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone’s proposed $3 million jail expansion plan took up the entire hour of last night’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Public Property & Buildings Committee meeting.

The committee did not reject or approve the proposal outright, but instead voted to send it to the jury’s Finance Committee to discuss it further and figure out just how to pay for it.

Stone, Lincoln Parish Detention Center (DC) Warden Jim Tuten, and Architect Mike Walpole presented a repeat of what was explained at last week’s DC Commission meeting – a 96 bed dorm for trustees, and a 10 bed segregation wing for inmates with mental or other special issues.

According to Stone, housing overflow inmates at adjoining parish facilities is costing the Lincoln Parish Jail some $300 thousand annually. If he had additional room at the DC, that money would be saved, and would pay for any expansion.

However, as the building actually belongs to the police jury, they would have to fund it. For that amount, a bond sale would likely be required, and the jury would be the entity responsible for repayment.

Jury Administrator Courtney Hall noted that the State Bond Commission requires a dedicated revenue stream prior to approval of any bond issue. All public entities in the state must seek that agency’s approval for borrowing.

Jury President Jody Backus (District 7) voiced concern that future state funding could be cut, which is a major source of jail revenues. The jail houses prisoners on behalf of the Department of Corrections, and is paid a daily per diem of $24.39 for service.

Said Backus, “My concern is the state. What are they going to do next spring? The $24, they could cut it in half.”

Stone said that Governor John Bel Edwards promised him that would not happen. “They need us. I really don’t think that’s going to happen,” Stone said.

Randy Roberson (District 4) noted that the jury had just learned of the issue four days ago, and that more time was need to review the financing.

Former Lincoln Fire Chief Lawsuit Trial Begins


A Civil Bench Trial on a lawsuit by former Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1 Chief Dennis Ford began this morning at Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

Hearing the case is Division A Judge Cynthia Woodard.

Ford sued the agency for “comp time,” insurance costs, and penalties. He is demanding almost $500 thousand, plus attorney fees.

Among those testifying this morning was Ford and former fire district commission Chairman Tom Thompson. Ford’s attorney is Daniel Street of Monroe.

Defending is Assistant District Attorney Jeff Robinson.

Trial will resume tomorrow at 9:00 AM, Courtroom A, Lincoln Parish Court House.

Jail Construction on LPPJ Agenda Tuesday


Discussion about construction of a 10 thousand sq foot addition to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center will be on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s (LPPJ) Public Property & Buildings Committee agenda Tuesday night. Last week the Detention Center Commission voted to send the plan to the jury.

The jury will have to approve the plan and come up with a means of financing the $2.7 million price tag.

The committee will meet at 4:30 PM.


Other committee meetings are:

Insurance Committee – 5:30 PM


Finance Committee – 6:00 PM


Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM


Police Jury


10 Thousand sq ft, $2.7 Million Lincoln Jail Addition Proposed

New Additions to Lincoln Parish Detention Center

New Additions to Lincoln Parish Detention Center

A 10 thousand square foot, $2.7 million addition to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center was discussed extensively at yesterday’s meeting of the Detention Center Commission, and the body voted to send the proposal to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s (LPPJ) Building & Grounds and Finance Committees.

The commission is comprised of two police jurors – President Jody Backus and Joe Henderson, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton, and Ruston Police Chief Steve Rogers.

Money to finance the construction would have to borrowed, and Stone claimed that current revenues could pay off the note. However, as the Police Jury would actually own the building, the jury would be the entity that would have to vote to authorize the bonds, and would ultimately be responsible should the jail’s self-generated revenues not be sufficient to pay them off.

In other words, the jury would have to “co-sign” the note.

Stone said that currently, the jail spends about $400 thousand/year housing overflow prisoners in other parish jails, primarily Ouachita. That money would stay here if they had the room to house the prisoners, he said.

One problem for the plan would be a decline in sales tax revenue. Earlier this week, we reported that sales tax receipts are declining for the Lincoln parish School Board. Therefore, any Lincoln Parish entity that collects sales taxes – city, police jury, sheriff, jail – will have the same percentage revenue decline.

For the budget year 2016, sales taxes account for about 58% of the jail’s revenue.

Also, another 25% ($1 million annually) of the revenues are paid to the jail from the Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) to house state prisoners.

Stone said with the State of Louisiana “broke,” cuts to that revenue source are likely.

Said Stone, “The DOC has no money, folks. The state has no money. They’re going to start sentencing people to local time.” If that happens, the state won’t pay the approximately $25/day to house those prisoners in local jails, he said.

Warden Jim Tuten said one of the new additions would be used to house prisoners that are “trustees,” or those that can do work outside the jail with minimal supervision.

The other is for prisoners that have to be segregated from the general population, such as those with mental health issues.

It is unclear whether the proposal will be on next week’s agenda for the LPPJ.

Here is the budget for the proposed construction. Note that costs for furnishings and security systems are not included in the estimate.

In other business, the commission adopted an amended budget for the current calendar year.

Lincoln Detention Center Commission This Morning


The Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission will meet today (Thursday, October 6), 10:00 AM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

$3.8 Million for new Central Office on Lincoln Sch Bd Wish List


Now that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into upgrades of Lincoln Parish school buildings over the past few years, it was only a matter of time before construction of a shiny new Central Office building got put on the district’s capital outlay plan.

According to a plan approved at yesterday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), $3.8 will be budgeted in 2021 for just that purpose. The budget price doesn’t include any land purchase.

See here the plan.

Superintendent Mike Milstead said that the existing building was built in the 1950’s, and that it wasn’t feasible to keep spending money on upkeep of a building that old.

No location has been decided upon, Milstead said.

“I’ve been in conversation already with the mayor, with the police jury about properties, and how we can do that as I’ve explained to you (board members) in our individual conversations,” he said.

In other money matters, the decline in sales tax revenues continues, according to Business Manager George Murphy.

See here the September sales tax report.

The board also adopted the recommendations for the employee health plan.

See here the memo.