Archive for January, 2013

Special Called Meeting Tomorrow – Jonesboro Board of Aldermen

01/31/2013

A special meeting of the Town of Jonesboro’s Board of Aldermen has been called for tomorrow (Friday, 2/1/13), 5:00 PM, W. Richard Zuber City Hall, 128 Allen Avenue.

See here the agenda.

The only item listed is a counter-proposal to KTB Consultants, LLC. The original proposal from the company to help with the town’s bookkeeping was tabled by the council last week.

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Judge to Rule on Protective Order Soon

01/31/2013

Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) Division B Judge Jimmy Teat said this morning in a hearing that he would be ruling shortly on a motion for a protective order that would exclude production of certain Town of Jonesboro records in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the town.

The judge said that both plaintiff attorney Bobby Culpepper and the town’s attorney Doug Stokes had submitted memorandums on the case as late as this morning, and that he would need time to study their arguments and read the case law cited.

Both attorneys made brief remarks in support of their position.

Stokes said that court cases supported his position that his client was not required to furnish information about assets that could not be seized, while Culpepper focused on his clients need to examine the town’s records to prove that there were sufficient funds to satisfy the judgement.

Jonesboro’s former Fire Chief David Roberts had won a judgement last year that said the town did not properly terminate him in January 2011, and was owed back pay.

Lafayette “Go To” Judge Has More Fans

01/30/2013

In defense of Judge Rubin Part 2

Dear Editor:

The American system of criminal justice demands that judges not only uphold the constitution and laws of this country but also remain un-swayed by fear of public criticism. Your recent public criticism of Judge Edward D. Rubin severely tests that principle, but I am sure Judge Rubin will live up to his reputation as a fearlessly independent judge. I have known Judge Edward Rubin for many years and I know that as an elected judge he committed himself to work hard every day to make fair and objective decisions without fear of public criticism and over the years he has made many of us proud of his judicial record that speaks of that commitment.

It is with those thoughts in mind that I reluctantly write in response to your recent article that called Judge Rubin the “go to” judge for handling certain criminal cases. I write only because it is important enough for the integrity of the legal system that someone responds on his behalf because the Canons of Judicial Ethics prohibit him from personally responding. My response is similar to that of others who have tried to set the record straight so that you understand the process of criminal rehabilitation.

(See more of letter at link)

Russell Castille
former coordinator of the pre-trial monitoring program
15th Judicial District Court

Roller Indictment Released

01/29/2013

A copy of the indictment of Jackson Parish Ward Four Fire Protection District Chief Curtis Roller has been obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online. It describes in detail the specific allegations against Roller.

See here the document.

The document is an allegation only, and not proof of guilt.

Roller Originally Charged Almost Two Years Ago

01/29/2013

Jackson Parish Ward Four Fire Protection District Fire Chief Curtis Roller was originally charged with theft of government property nearly two years ago, according to a Bill of Information (initial complaint) filed on April 26, 2011.

See here the document.

Roller’s current problems aren’t the first brush he’s had with the law. In 2006, the Louisiana Board of Ethics fined him $5 thousand for participating in a transaction involving the governmental entity in which he had a substantial economic interest.

See here the document.

Lafayette DA Update – 1/29/13

01/29/2013

This week in crazy: PI Williamson ain’t crazy anymore

On Dec. 17 Lafayette private investigator Robert Williamson, his wife and the couple’s two daughters successfully petitioned state district court to have him declared incompetent to handle his affairs, claiming in their petition for interdiction that he suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has suffered mini strokes in recent months. Williamson is the man believed to be the mastermind behind a bribery scheme involving OWI and other cases prosecuted by District Attorney Mike Harson’s office. Williamson teamed up with Harson’s secretary for the past four years, Barna Haynes, and two years later ensnared Assistant District Attorney Greg Williams and his secretary to help defendants achieve favorable outcomes for their cases.

Private eye Williamson, whom many observers believe will be arrested and charged any day now, and his family were scheduled to appear in court Jan. 22 for a hearing on a full interdiction but apparently had a change of heart — or a change of strategy. Williamson, his wife Sonya (the woman supposedly left paralyzed by two electrocutions, including one at an Alexandria hotel in 1989) and the couple’s two daughters, Jolie Williamson (who lives with them) and Dixie Ann Hundley, decided on Jan. 23 to terminate the interdiction. In court documents they now say the interdiction is “currently excessive” and is “no longer necessary to care for the person and property of Robert T. Williamson.” They asked District Judge John Trahan to dismiss the matter in its entirety, which would release Sonya and Jolie from any further responsibility as curator and undercurator, respectively.

Jackson Parish Ward Four Fire Chief Curtis Roller Indicted by Feds

01/28/2013

Jackson Parish Ward Four Fire Protection District Chief Curtis Roller was last Thursday indicted by a federal grand jury. In an email late this afternoon from the U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana:

JONESBORO MAN INDICTED FOR WIRE FRAUD AND LYING ON WORKERS COMPENSATION FORMS

SHREVEPORT, La: United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Curtis Roller, 56, of Jonesboro, was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury for 11 counts of wire fraud after obtaining Federal Emergency Management Agency grants and four counts of making false statements on workers compensation forms.

According to the indictment, from Jan. 1, 2002 to Dec. 31, 2010, Roller submitted false information on grant applications he sent to FEMA so Louisiana and Arkansas fire departments he wrote grants for were eligible to receive the funds. Roller is accused of inflating population data, agency coverage areas and numbers of responded calls on the FEMA grant applications. He also is accused of overstating the type of calls responded to, under-reporting the size of budgets and increasing the scope of their needs on the applications.

It is further alleged in the indictment that Roller asked those awarded the FEMA grants to purchase equipment from his two companies, Louisiana Firefighters Services and a vehicle manufacturing company in Smyrna, Ga. It is against FEMA rules and policies for a grant writer to financially benefit from money awarded.

Also as part of the indictment, Roller was accused of not reporting income on his workers compensation form when he filed for benefits from Oct. 29, 2007 to March 28, 2008.

At the time, he was employed at the U.S. Postal Service when he filed his claim. He did not report that he was receiving income from his job as a fire chief of the Ward 4 Fire Protection District in the Jonesboro area. He also received income as owner of his fire services and vehicle manufacturing companies.

If convicted, Roller faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both on each count of wire fraud and a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both for each count of false statements.

Roller will appear for arraignment in U.S. District Court in Monroe at a date and time to be scheduled by the Court.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Service/Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Campbell is prosecuting the case.

Hearing on Protective Order for Jonesboro Records Delayed

01/28/2013

A hearing on a motion for a protective order was continued this morning until 9:30 AM, Thursday, January 31, by Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) Division B Judge Jimmy Teat.

Bobby Culpepper, attorney for the plaintiff in the case – Town of Jonesboro’s former Fire Chief David Roberts – was unable to attend this morning’s hearing due to a scheduling conflict.

The judge said he would hear arguments on the protective order motion Thursday, and then depending upon the outcome, either reschedule or hear arguments on the plaintiff’s motion to examine judgement debtor.

Roberts had won a judgement last year that said the town did not properly terminate him in January 2011, and was owed back pay.

Monday Morning Hearing on Protective Order for Jonesboro Town Records

01/27/2013

A 9:30 AM hearing will be held Monday, January 28, in Division B Judge Jimmy Teat’s Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District courtroom in Jonesboro to hear a motion by Town of Jonesboro attorney Doug Stokes asking that some of the town’s financial records be excluded from court examination. Stokes asserts that because those records pertain to the town’s property that can’t be attached, any such records should not have to be produced.

See here the document.

The issue pertains to a $36 thousand judgement rendered in favor of the town’s former fire chief David Roberts, that said he was not properly terminated and is entitled to back pay.

In his memorandum, Stokes cites a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling – Hill v City of New Orleans – that notes “examination about property owned by the City of New Orleans is pointless because public property is exempt from seizure.”

Stokes wants items 1 through 22 in the Examination of Judgement Debtor motion to be excluded from examination.

It is notable that almost all the requested records are public documents, and as such are covered by Louisiana’s Public Records Law – LA RS 44:1.

Lafayette DA Update 1/27/13

01/27/2013

Bribery probe’s key figure has shady history

The Lafayette private investigator believed to be connected to a federal investigation into bribery at the District Attorney’s Office has a long history with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including past allegations of fraud.

Robert Williamson, 64, of Lafayette, whose attorney has acknowledged that his client’s name has been mentioned in the ongoing investigation, has been charged twice in federal court with insurance fraud, and both times walked free despite a string of suspicious accidents, disability claims and insurance claims by him and family members. And he’s fought off a lawsuit by an insurance company that accused him of racketeering.

Public deserves to know details of bribery case

The public has a right to know how the 15th Judicial District became involved in an alleged bribery scandal, but it’s difficult to learn what happened when officials aren’t fully compliant with open records requests.

The Daily Advertiser made a bit of headway in recent days when it made separate requests under the state’s Open Records Law to the offices of 15th Judicial District Judge Edward Rubin and District Attorney Mike Harson. These requests were made in the course of reporting on the guilty pleas of three employees of the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s office in the recent bribery case involving drunken driving arrests.