Archive for July, 2012

Water District Issues That Sound Familiar


Audits rip district’s finances

ST. GABRIEL — Iberville Parish Water District No. 2 board members indicated Wednesday night they would try to regroup after getting hit by a pair of independent audits blasting the body’s fiscal affairs, accounting and money handling.

As a result of the audit findings, the district is no longer eligible for state or federal funding due to unacceptable financial practices of its employees, according to the reports.

Case against former Avoyelles water district head could go to grand jury soon

BUNKIE — An elderly man who for years managed the Southwest Avoyelles Waterworks District could be charged by a grand jury within a month following a state audit that found nearly $40,000 missing from the district’s bank account.

Avoyelles Parish District Attorney Charlie Riddle III said he’ll bring the case against Frank Palermo to a grand jury in August or September. Riddle said he could not comment on the specifics.

A recent audit report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office said Palermo was short $38,648 that should have been deposited in the district’s bank account from January 2009 to March 2011. The report, investigated and prepared by the legislative auditor’s in-house accountants, said there was $266,503 deposited during the period when there should have been $305,151.

The report said there is evidence of theft, bribery and filing false public records. There also could be a violation of the district’s loan agreement with the Farmers Home Administration because not all receipts were deposited, the report said.

Among the problems the audit found: people with active water meters were not on the district’s books as customers; payments recorded in ledgers were not deposited; and cash payments that were not recorded or deposited.

Palermo’s attorney dismissed the findings of the audit and said the former superintendent left the district in “great financial shape” but that “record-keeping was not his specialty.”

Court Rules for Roberts in J’Boro Fire Chief Suit


The Town of Jonesboro did not properly terminate Fire Chief David Roberts last January when Mark Treadway was appointed to that position, Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Division B Judge Jimmy Teat ruled yesterday.

It is clear that the statute requires the Town of Jonesboro Board of Aldermen to make a motion to terminate David Roberts, said motion was to be seconded, and if there was a majority vote to terminate David Roberts then he would be terminated as Fire Chief of the Town of Jonesboro. Therefore, it is clear based on the testimony of the Mayor of Jonesboro himself that the statute was not complied with, therefore, it is this Court’s opinion that the Town of Jonesboro did not comply with Louisiana Revised Statute 33:404A(3) in removing David Roberts as Fire Chief of the Town of Jonesboro.

Therefore, it is this Court’s opinion that judgment should be rendered in favor of plaintiff, David Roberts, and against the defendant, Town of Jonesboro, ruling that the Town of Jonesboro did not comply with the law in terminating David Roberts as Fire Chief of the Town of Jonesboro.

As to the damages the Court will give plaintiff and defendant ten days from the date of this Reasons For Judgment to provide the Court with their assessment of what the damages would be to David Roberts and also would give the plaintiff and defendant the same ten days to present a judgment in accordance with these reasons.

See here the ruling.

See here the original petition.

William Ryder Appointed as Town of Jonesboro Fiscal Administrator


William Ryder, of Pollock, LA, a former Administrative Audit Manager with the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) was this morning appointed Fiscal Administrator for the Town of Jonesboro, according to a judgement handed down by Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Court Division B Judge Jimmy Teat.

See here the judgement.

Among the terms of the judgement:

  • No indebtedness or obligation will be incurred by the Town of Jonesboro without the written approval of the fiscal administrator;
  • No expenditures will be made without the written approval of the fiscal administrator;
  • The Town of Jonesboro shall furnish the fiscal administrator all information required by law and such additional information requested by the fiscal administrator;

Also, Teat released his Reasons for Judgement in a separate filing.

See here the document.

The News Star Reports on Jonesboro


Jonesboro awaits court ruling about a fiscal administrator

The town of Jonesboro and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office await a decision from the 2nd Judicial District Court on whether a fiscal administrator will be appointed to take over the town’s finances.

The hearing in the state of Louisiana vs. the town of Jonesboro wrapped up last week, but the court withheld a decision pending the filing of briefs by both sides, which were due Friday, Laura Gerdes Colligan with the Attorney General’s Office said Monday.

Town attorney Carol Powell-Lexing said the independent fiscal administrator would be a full-time position and possibly could cost the town $100 an hour.

The Attorney General’s Office filed suit June 28 against the town of Jonesboro.

The Attorney General’s Office alleges there is a “state of fiscal emergency brought on by actions and inactions of the town.”

According to the suit, the town’s independent auditor noted the town did not maintain adequate records of disbursements, did not properly reconcile bank accounts or accounts receivable or payable and did enter all transactions into the town’s accounting records.

This resulted in the town’s auditors’ inability to express an opinion on the town’s financial statements over the course of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 fiscal years, according to the suit.

Powell-Lexing said the town has corrected the deficiencies found during the 2010 fiscal year.

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State Files Post-Trial Memo in State v Jonesboro


The State of Louisiana late Friday filed a Post-Trial Memorandum in the matter of State of Louisiana v Town of Jonesboro.

See here the document.

Post-Trial Memorandum

Stewart Regime Marked by Controversy


The four-year old regime of Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson parishes) District Attorney Jonathan Stewart has from the beginning been marked by one controversy after another.

The latest is the alleged criminal activity in the Gibsland, LA mayor’s office.

Another Out-of-Control Mayor (Giblsand) for Jonathan Stewart to Deal With?

Among the findings:

Bank accounts not reconciled timely.
No listing of accounts receivable or payable.
No utility entries to accounts receivable during the year.
Payroll related liabilities not paid timely.
No General Fund budget for the year ended June 30,2011.
Late submission of audit report.
Questionnaires not signed and provided to the auditor.

See here the document.

Reportedly, Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance is getting the same runaround that Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown has dealt with over the past two years concerning the Town of Jonesboro’s investigation.

Earlier this year, Stewart threatened the Jackson Parish Police Jury (JPPJ) with a lawsuit if it didn’t promptly appropriate $50 thousand to help fund his office.

DA Stewart Threatens Jackson Parish Police Jury

One of Stewart’s assistants was last year investigated by the Louisiana State Police for allegations of sexual misconduct. The ADA’s case was brought before a grand jury, but he was not indicted. A civil lawsuit was later filed against the former assistant.

State Police Confirms Assistant DA Probe

Also, a series of Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) reports late last year on drug asset forfeiture revealed that Stewart’s office was not properly account for the forfeited money he responsible for handling.

DA Jonathan Stewart’s Drug Forfeiture Assets Not Properly Accounted For

All this is in addition to Stewart’s refusal to pursue prosecution of his close political ally, Jonesboro’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson.

Higher Ed Roundup – 7/22/12


Report: State fails in college grad rate

Nicholls State and the University of Southeastern Louisiana lay off workers

Southern University system president pitches change

Higher Ed Roundup – 7/21/12


Purcell ‘hurt’ over instructor’s dismissal

LSU avoids staff layoffs

Southeastern to lay off 36 employees

LSU budget unapproved until September

Town Files Post-Trial Brief


Town of Jonesboro attorney Carol Powell-Lexing today filed a Defendant’s Post-Trial Brief in the matter of State of Louisiana v Town of Jonesboro.

That suit had asked for a court-appointed fiscal administrator to take over the town’s finances, which have been in disarray ever since controversial mayor Leslie Thompson took office in early 2007. The trial was conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and was extensively covered by Linconln Parish News Online (LPNO).

In lieu of oral arguments, the judge said that written memorandum could be submitted.

See here the document.