Archive for October, 2013

Simmons, Jackson Indictments


simmons indictment 001

jackson ndictment 001

Note that indictments represent allegations only, and must be proven in court.

DA Levy Wants LPPJ to Cough Up $90K for Overdue Bills


Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney Bob Levy has sent a request to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) for an extra appropriation of about $90 thousand to cover obligations of his office.

See here the letter.

Among the items listed are: Parochial Employees Retirement System (PERS), Louisiana District Attorney’s Association (LDAA), and Blue Cross Health Coverage.

A response from the Jury advised Levy that any additional monies in excess of that already approved would require action from the jury. The letter requested that Levy be present at the 11/12 meeting of the jury’s finance committee and formally present his request.

See here the letter.

How Dan Reneau’s Son-in-Law Fixed The Grambling Football Mutiny


Here’s the story you will never see in North Louisiana’s Gannett newspapers, courtesy of The (Baton Rouge) Advocate. It details how former Shaw Group CEO Jim Bernhard (who also happens to be the son-in-law of former Louisiana Tech University President Dan Reneu) helped avert a mutiny by the Grambling State University (GSU) football team.

Bernhard reportedly has had yearnings to run for a statewide political office, and at one time was Chairman of the state’s Democrat State Central Committee.

Former Shaw CEO behind deal to get Grambling players back on the field


After a boycott that produced a forfeit game, Grambling ended its protest Monday and returned to practice, a move made after a Sunday night meeting overseen by Baton Rouge businessman Jim Bernhard, who promised to resolve health concerns with the team’s practice facility.

The stalemate was broken during a sitdown in Ruston with Bernhard, the founder of The Shaw Group Inc. The meeting was attended by five players and Grambling alumni and friends of the program Douglas Porter, Ezil Bibbs, Roy Jackson, Henry Dyer and Howard Davis.

For several hours, the players reiterated concerns with mold growing in the team’s showers and locker room, equipment issues, $11,000 worth of uninstalled replacement flooring for the weight room, long bus rides to games in Kansas City and Indianapolis and the September firing of coach Doug Williams.

“They stressed it was not just them but Grambling in general,” Bernhard said. “I told them, ‘Let’s go through the must-haves and the nice-to-haves.’ That’s been accomplished (Monday).”

Bernhard has no formal ties to Grambling but said his interest was piqued by seeing television reports on the dispute and the feeling that players and Grambling administrators were “talking past each other.” After returning from a trip to Virginia late Saturday night, he reached out to contacts to arrange a meeting with Grambling players.

“I just picked up my phone and said, ‘Get these guys in a room,’ ” Bernhard said.

USA Today reported former coach Doug Williams and several others met with the players Sunday night at a hotel room in Ruston.

In their statement, Grambling players said the former Tigers coach “put us in contact” with Bernhard, whose docket has been largely cleared after The Shaw Group was sold in July 2013 for a reported $3 billion. Yet Bernhard denied touching base with Williams about the matter.

“I never talked to Doug,” Bernhard said. “I never had any communication with him whatsoever. I know Doug Williams, and I’m sure like any coach he’s concerned about his players.”

Behind the scenes, however, a potential channel could have been used to exchange information.

A source familiar with the matter said Bernhard reached out to Cleo Fields, a former politician and Baton Rouge attorney, about what he could do to help broker a resolution. Fields represented Williams, and the source said the attorney contacted his client about what parties Bernhard needed to speak with in order to set up the meeting.

Bernhard and Fields have similar political leanings, and they’re also neighbors.

During his meeting with the players, Bernhard ensured facilities would be updated, while The (Monroe) News Star reported that Athletic Director Aaron James said $32,000 in renovations were in store for the weight room over the next couple weeks.

Bernhard said he spoke with Wayne Parker, who chairs the system’s Board of Supervisors, and received reassurances that issues within the facility were being addressed. As far as further improvements, Bernhard said he would take on a role in raising funds to put them in place.

“If there’s something down the road for those nice-to-haves, I think the funds can be raised,” Bernhard said. “There’s certainly Grambling alumni, and I’ll participate. We’re going to take care of the must haves in the next few days.”

Monroe City Council Tuesday


The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, October 22, 6:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

Here is the agenda.

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday


The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, October 21, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Court House, second floor.

Here is the agenda.

Purpera Featured in LaPolitics


LaPolitics, an online political newsletter published by John Maginnis and Jeremy Alford, has published a feature interview with someone that North Louisiana readers of Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) has become quite familiar with – Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera.

Purpera: The Man Behind the Numbers

In the thousand word piece, mention is made of Purpera’s role in the Jonesboro saga.

The office helped take down former Jonesboro Mayor Leslie Thompson, who was found guilty of malfeasance in office for questionable monetary practices. The defense attorney went as far as to tell the court that Purpera was the one who should be looked into, for spending $500,000 on the case.

This is a well-written overview of one of the people that LPNO considers to be a true hero to the taxpayers of Jonesboro.

The St. Tammany Whistleblower


Spurred by wife’s firing, whistleblower worked to expose misspending by St. Tammany Coroner Peter Galvan

The Times-Picayune By Robert Rhoden
October 18, 2013

When St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan fired his forensic laboratory director in 2009, he undoubtedly had no clue at the time what a formidable adversary he would have in that employee’s husband. For Terry King, an easy-going financial consultant with a sarcastic wit and background in auditing, exposing Peter Galvan would soon become a crusade that would dominate much of his life.

After the filing of a wrongful termination lawsuit and winning a protracted court battle to obtain coroner’s office financial records – including an initial seven years of credit card and banking statements – King devoted a significant amount of his life to poring over the information. He dissected the coroner’s operations, investigating questionable purchases and practices. And he shared his discoveries with state and federal law enforcement authorities, as well as the media.

So much time and effort was put into the coroner’s office, that King’s work as a financial consultant suffered, as did his income. He nearly lost his job with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in Slidell. And he and his wife, Laura, who Galvan had fired, were shunned by some of their friends due to the couple’s involvement in the high-profile controversy.

They often grew weary of the battle, and at one point put their Diamondhead, Miss., home on the market so they could move away with their two adopted children from Russia and leave the drama behind. “We were so infuriated. So many people had turned on us,” Terry King said.

But the house didn’t sell. And the Kings decided not to give up.

Their whistle-blowing efforts paid off recently when the Department of Justice announced that it had charged Galvan with conspiracy to commit theft of property from a municipal institution receiving federal funds. Galvan pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last week, but the fact that he was charged in a bill of information rather than an indictment is thought to be an indication he is cooperating with authorities.

Galvan resigned his office late Friday.

Read the rest of the story here.

Taxes on Jackson Parish Ballot Saturday


In addition to voting their choice for a congressman, Jackson Parish voters will get to decide Saturday whether to re-impose a 7.7 mil property tax for the operation and maintenance of the parish schools.

See here the ballot language.

Shall Consolidated School District No. 1 of the Parish of Jackson, State of Louisiana (the “District”), continue to levy a seven and seven-tenths (7.7) mills tax on all property subject to taxation in said District (an estimated $1,838,000 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2014 and ending with the year 2023, for the purpose of maintaining and operating school houses in the District?

Simmons, Jackson Indicted for Perjury


In other Jonesboro developments today, Janice Simmons and Franciscus Jackson were indicted by a Jackson Parish Grand Jury earlier this afternoon on one count each of perjury.

They are alleged to have falsely testified in court that they witnessed an altercation between Willie Joseph and a citizen after a August, 2012 Jonesboro city council meeting. Joseph was at the time on trial for battery against the citizen.

A video introduced into evidence at the trial purportedly showed the two to be in another room at the time of the incident, and unable to directly witness the altercation, or lack thereof.

Joseph was convicted in the trial and was sentenced to six months in jail, with five months suspended. He is appealing the conviction.

Simmons is listed as the Executive Director of the Greater North Louisiana Community Development Corporation (GNLCDC), according to the agency’s 2011 Form 990 tax return.

Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Durrett prosecuted the case.

Additional Jonesboro Reporting


In his reasons for judgement, Judge Jimmy Teat noted that in a statement to the court attached to the pre-sentence investigation, Thompson denied culpability for his crimes and showed no remorse.

Teat noted Thompson’s behavior after he was convicted, where he attempted to have his wife Yoshi replace him as mayor, and the involvement of a Monroe City Court judge in an attempt to “swear in” his wife. All this was an attempt by Thompson to maintain political control of the town, Teat said.

He also noted Thompson’s use of the town’s car as a personal vehicle, a 2010 land transaction between the town and Greater North Louisiana Community Development Corporation, and a catered political event paid for with town funds.

As mitigating factors, Teat said that Thompson wasn’t likely to be a flight risk, nor was there any risk of violence.

On counts one and two of the conviction, Thompson is to serve 3 years each, consecutively, and on count three, he was sentenced to 5 years, suspended, with five years of supervised probation. Each of the counts carried a $1 thousand fine.

The terms of the probation include no contact with the town or its employees.

The $51 thousand in restitution must be paid back to the town in installments over a period of 60 months.

A defense motion for Thompson’s immediate release pending appeals was denied.