Archive for February, 2014

AG Caldwell: “Lot of Trouble” Prosecuting WalMart Looting Cases

02/28/2014

Attorney General weighs in on food stamp flap

Marsha Shuler
mshuler@theadvocate.com

Food stamp fraud cases would be hard to make against those who overspent benefit limits during a computer crash last October, state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said Friday.

“There’s no evidence available as to who cashed the checks, who presented the (food stamp) card,” Caldwell said. “Prosecutors are going to have a lot of trouble in taking the cases.”

Caldwell also said there were no victim complaints or arrests which complicates the situation.

Jeff Landry for Attorney General.

The Dream vs How it Really Is

02/28/2014

This is what Mayo/The News Star want to talk about.

$80 Million Dream

$80 Million Dream

This is what Mayo/The News Star won’t talk about.

Homeless Sleeping Under the Brides

Homeless Sleeping Under the Brides

One of Monroe's Clogged Drainage Canals

One of Monroe’s Clogged Drainage Canals

Jonesboro Councilman Arrested on Drug and Firearms Charges

02/27/2014

Town of Jonesboro Councilman-at-Large LaStevic Cottonham was arrested this morning by deputies of the Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) on charges of driving under suspension, possession of marijuana, and possession of a firearm while in possession of illegal narcotics, Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) in an interview moments ago.

The marijuana and driving charges are misdemeanors, but the firearms charge is a felony, Brown said.

Bond has not been set.

The arrest comes several days after an alleged rape at Cottonham’s home. See here the story at KTVE-TV10.

JPSO: Alleged Rape Occured Inside Jonesboro Councilman’s Home

JONESBORO (KTVE) — The Jackson Parish Sheriff’s Office is investigating a rape that occurred during a party at a Jonesboro councilman’s home this weekend.

Jackson Parish authorities say a young woman, whose identity is not being released, drove herself to a Jonesboro emergency room on Sunday morning.

What hospital staff discovered is horrific.

“The severity of her wounds, it was very bad. Her injuries were so brutal, that I consider them kind of animalistic,” said Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown.

Officials say she appeared incoherent and severely sexually battered.

Authorities are now tracing this back to a party at Jonesboro councilman LaStevic Cottonham’s house. Sheriff Brown said the last place witnesses saw her was at that party — walking into a locked room with 33-year old Cornelius Boston of Ruston.

“Who we think is the key ingredient to this sexual assault,” said Brown. “We’re a long ways from through, even though we made an arrest, we will get to the bottom of it.”

Boston was arrested and charged with simple rape. His bond at Jackson Parish Correctional Center is set at $50,000.

Sheriff Brown would not detail the extent of the woman’s injuries, but describes the assault as “brutal.”

“I’ve been here for many years, and the detective working this has been here many years, and we both agree, we’ve not seen anything in a sexual case this violent,” he said. “She still has rights as a human being. We can’t look past this and we will get to the bottom of this.”

Sheriff Brown also says it’s also possible the victim was drugged at the time of the assault.

“We do feel like she was under the influence of something,” he said. “She’s still somewhat incoherent and we’re not getting a whole lot out of her, but over a period of time we plan to talk to her.”

Sheriff Brown says Boston denies raping the victim, but is giving conflicting stories.

“It bothers me that someone would not be compassionate enough to help her or would be so non-compassionate to do that to her,” said Brown. “We’re going to look at all the evidence, there may be something that points to other individuals that get arrested.”

Investigators are collecting DNA from several individuals who were at Cottonham’s home. This will help them determine if others were involved in the assault.

The sheriff says councilman Cottonham is fully cooperating with authorities. Sheriff brown says Cottonham stated he was at home, but was unaware of the assault taking place.

Councilman Lastevic Cottonham tells KTVE 10 – Fox 14 “I send my condolences and prayers out to this young lady and her family during this time. I am doing everything I can to cooperate with police to bring this person to justice.”

“Cottonham as far as I know has provided the same evidence, DNA to the detective, and he’s been cooperative in coming up giving us a statement,” Brown said.

Officials say despite the arrest, the case is no where near finished.

“We’re going to do our job the best we can here because she does have rights and we’re going protect her rights,” Brown said. “We’re going to bring justice to this for her.”

Investigators said it’s unknown how long she was in the room or how she managed to get out.

Investigators will continue interviewing witnesses.

“If we learn that these people or owner of this home did not render help to her, there may be more charges coming,” said Brown.

Bienville Sheriff Ballance “Still Investigating” Gibsland

02/27/2014

Bienville Parish Sheriff John Ballance said yesterday that his office is still investigating malfeasance at the Town of Gibsland.

The Shreveport Times’ Vickie Welborn wrote:

Overall, Ballance is satisfied with Key’s admission, through his plea, to at least one of the crimes. “But it’s still the money issue that still causes me some problems. Those stipends for attending meetings, non-supported documents for travel expenses, the purchase of party supplies, flowers and meals at local restaurants is all part of it, too. I was hoping that some of that would be addressed so that somebody would have to pay it back. So that’s why we’re still looking at some things.”

See here the complete news article.

Gibsland mayor pleads; town probe not over

See here a KTAL-TV6 news report on yesterday’s developments.

Local mayor guilty of malfeasance in office

News Star Goes Psycho on “Economic Development”

02/27/2014

The clown circus over at The (Monroe) News Star is in a full tizzy over the actions Tuesday night of the Monroe City Council, where they vetoed “economic development” money to a private business.

Our View: Council vote threatens economic development

This is the same crew of fools who have no interest whatsoever in uncovering the secret machinations of the I-20 Board, and their control over millions of dollars of taxpayer funds.

By their lights, if something is tagged “economic development,” the taxpayer’s money should be looted at will, with no oversight or questions asked.

Long time readers will recall that the News Star was leading the charge to dump hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into a phantom auto company several years ago, the infamous “V-Vehicle.” We covered the story here:

Archive for the ‘V-Vehicle Company’ Category

Key Pleads Guilty, 5/9/14 Sentencing Set

02/26/2014
Gibsland Mayor Odell Key perpwalk @ Bienville Parish Court House - 2/26/14

Gibsland Mayor Odell Key perpwalk @ Bienville Parish Court House – February 26, 2014

Town of Gibsland Mayor Odell Key plead guilty to one count of Malfeasance in Office in Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District Court in Arcadia early this afternoon. Sentencing is set for 11:00 AM, May 9, at the Bienville Parish Court House, pending a pre-sentencing investigation.

Flanked by his attorney, Monroe’s LaValle Salomon, Key listened as Division C Judge Glenn Fallin explained the consequences of his guilty plea. One of the conditions of the plea deal is that Key resign as mayor.

See here the Bill of Information.

Key was originally charged with several counts when he was arrested last December.

Louisiana Attorney General Criminal Division Director Kurt Wall said that his office would not make any recommendations as to sentencing, instead leaving that to Fallin’s discretion.

Fallin said the maximum sentence could be five years and $5 thousand fine, but that the law did not specify a minimum sentence.

Speaking to assembled reporters after the court proceedings, Wall said the successful prosecution was the result of “good police work on the part of the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office,” and Sheriff John Ballance.

Asked if pleading his client guilty was difficult, Salomon said, “Always.”

Salomon said that the prospect of of a long trial, considering Key’s health and age (73), plus a desire for the community to move forward prompted them to “resolve the matter in this fashion.”

Key had no comment.

A Fiscal Administrator was appointed to run the town last year.

2nd Circuit Slams Monroe PD on False Arrest Case

02/26/2014

Louisiana’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals this morning reversed a district court and held that the Monroe Police Department falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, and maliciously prosecuted Annette Brown in 2009.

The court also awarded her $20 thousand in damages, money that the taxpayers of Monroe will have to pay.

This court concurs with plaintiff’s argument that because Det. Dowdy’s investigation was substandard, he failed to perform his duty to correctly identify the suspect prior to her arrest and incarceration and this was the cause-in-fact of the Ms. Brown’s wrongful arrest at her place of employment in the presence of her co-workers. The law imposes a duty on law enforcement officers to correctly identify a suspect prior to arresting and jailing her specifically in instances such as these to prevent injuries of the exact nature that Ms. Brown suffered.

See here the complete document.

The plaintiff attorney in the case was Anthony Bruscato. Defending was City Attorney Nanci Summersgill.

Cashiered Monroe City Judge Up For Promotion?

02/26/2014

A sitting Monroe City Court Judge who was once removed from office may be the handpicked candidate of the Ouachita Parish political/legal “combine” to replace Fourth Judicial (Morehouse, Ouachita Parishes) District Division H Judge Benjamin Jones, who is reportedly retiring at the end of his current term late this year.

Larry Jefferson has been tagged for the promotion, sources are telling Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO).

In 1999, the Louisiana Supreme Court removed Jefferson from office for engaging in “conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.”

See here the document.

However, Jefferson subsequently ran again for the office and was elected.

Jones is either at or near the mandatory retirement age (70) for judges.

Shrinking Newspaper Lectures About Finances

02/26/2014

Long-time Northeast Louisiana residents have no doubt noticed the emaciated condition of the area’s “premier” newspaper, The (Monroe) News-Star. Shrunken pages, decimated reporting staff, declining circulation – outward manifestations of financial problems.

Indeed, Gannett’s last quarter’s earnings showed a decline compared to the same time period last year.

Gannett 4Q profit down 12 pct on lower ad spending

But today, that “newspaper” sees fit to lecture people on how to handle money. See it here:

Our View: Enough, already!

We’ve often noted that the political endorsements of Gannett newspapers are usually good contrary indicators. In other words, whoever they endorse for office, make sure you vote for the other candidate.

Looks like the same can be said about their financial expertise.

Gibsland Mayor to Plead Guilty

02/26/2014

Mayor Odell Key will admit in Bienville District Court to financial mismanagement of the town

By Vickie Welborn

GIBSLAND — The controversial administration of Gibsland Mayor Odell Key is expected to end Wednesday with an admission of guilt to at least one felony charge related to his financial mismanagement of the town.

Key, 73, is scheduled to appear in Bienville District Court at noon in a plea arrangement reached with the state attorney general’s office. Spokesman Steven Hartmann confirmed Key’s court appearance but said he could not provide additional details.

Key’s attorney, Lavelle B. Salomon, of Monroe, did confirm, however, his client will plead guilty to one count of malfeasance in office. Key was arrested on five counts in December.

Key is expected to be sentenced after his plea. Details are still being worked out, Salomon said.

Key over the weekend faxed a letter of resignation to the town, Salomon said. The information hasn’t been forwarded to the secretary of state’s office, which is needed before it becomes official.

Just realizing the end is near for Key still has Mayor Pro Tem Marketris Jones at a loss for words. He and Alderman Timmy Cato — along with former Alderwoman Katherine Mixon — complained since early 2011 about Key’s refusal to abide by state laws in the oversight of the town. They called Key a “one man show,” blaming him for disappearing records, refusal to answer public records requests, hiring and firing employees without board approval, questionable spending practices and failure to follow through with board votes.

Their complaints, however, at the time failed to gain solid footing with the attorney general’s office, Louisiana legislative auditor’s office or Bienville district attorney’s office. The aldermen took their complaints in April 2012 to The Times, which detailed some of the town’s dire financial problems already outlined by an independent auditing firm and through additional public financial record. The newspaper continued to expose the town’s murky finances through a series of reports.

By June 2012, Sheriff John Ballance announced an investigation into misappropriation of public funds. The probe has required thousands of hours of manpower to review volumes of public records, multiple court subpoenas, interviews of current and former employees and a surprise raid at Town Hall in search of even more documents.