St Tammany DA Update – 8/13/14

Corrected salary figures for DA Walter Reed still higher than financial disclosure forms

Heather Nolan – NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Lee Zurik – WVUE Fox 8 News

District Attorney Walter Reed’s office has admitted it overpaid the embattled chief prosecutor for St. Tammany and Washington parishes by $23,800 in 2012. But the office’s corrected number, released this week, still doesn’t match what Reed reported as income in his sworn financial disclosure form.

In documents given to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 News, Reed’s office first said he made $221,473 in 2012. That’s what was sent to District Attorneys Retirement System, to compute his pension when he leaves office, even though Reed separately disclosed only $184,000 to the state Ethics Administration.

After the news organizations questioned the discrepancy, the retirement system this week released a copy of a May 15, 2013, letter from Reed’s office to the retirement system. In it, Reed’s office admitted it overpaid his salary and retirement benefits in 2012, and said the correct number is $197,674. The change was not reflected in the retirement system’s computer system at the time the letter was received, retirement system Director E. Pete Adams said.

Even the corrected figure, however, is more than 7 percent higher than what Reed reported to the Ethics Administration.

Reed’s spokesman, Morgan Stewart, said the discrepancies might be tied to data entry issues.

“The district attorney retirement system data is on a fiscal year,” he said. “Because the above error in reporting for calendar year 2012, two fiscal years of the district attorney retirement system were affected by the reporting of this erroneous additional amount.”

Richard Reed pulls out honorary ID during traffic stop

By Faimon A. Roberts III

Richard Reed, the brother of St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed, flashed an honorary badge issued by the DA’s Office at a Covington police officer who pulled him over as Reed tried to drive an inebriated woman away from a Covington restaurant on Sunday night, police confirmed.

Despite Richard Reed’s claim that he had the situation under control, the officer insisted on speaking to the woman, 30-year-old Natalie Dicharry, who was slumped over in Reed’s back seat, according to Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz.

Police were seeking Dicharry because managers of The Chimes Restaurant said she had become belligerent while at the bar.

When an officer arrived at The Chimes, he was informed that Dicharry had left in Richard Reed’s car, which the officer spotted at a nearby red light. The officer pulled Reed over in a shopping center parking lot, Lentz said. Reed “exited the vehicle and handed the officer a wallet badge from the District Attorney’s Office,” Lentz said.

Reed said he was taking Dicharry home, Lentz said.

“My understanding is that he flashed the badge in order to assure the officers that he didn’t need any assistance,” Lentz said.

Richard Reed has no connection to law enforcement other than through his brother. He recently resigned from a post as a clerk at St. Tammany Parish Hospital — for which Walter Reed until recently did legal work — after the arrangement aroused controversy, including questions about Richard Reed’s rate of pay and his job responsibilities.

After Reed flashed his badge, the officer decided to take the woman in his car to the Covington police station so she could be checked out by EMS personnel for possible alcohol poisoning. Police issued her a summons for public intoxication and released her into the custody of friends, Lentz said.

Richard Reed came to the police station and offered to take her home, but she declined the offer, Lentz said.

Richard Reed was not ticketed or charged, and he is not under investigation for his role in the incident, Lentz said.

Reached by phone Monday, Dicharry said she didn’t know Richard Reed and that she had no idea how she ended up in his car. She vaguely remembered him saying he was connected to the district attorney, she said.

Morgan Stewart, a spokesman for Walter Reed, acknowledged that the DA gave his brother an honorary commission some “30 years ago, as a keepsake” after Walter Reed’s first election in 1984. Reed gave other badges to a “few family and friends,” Stewart said, adding that the badge confers “absolutely no authority whatsoever.”

Richard Reed returned the badge to the office after the Sunday incident, Stewart said.

He said he believes Walter Reed is trying to recall other honorary badges.

The district attorney has steadfastly refused to answer questions posed by The New Orleans Advocate in recent weeks about the office’s issuance of honorary badges, who received them and why.

In an official response to a public-records request, Reed’s administrative assistant, Gerald Reed, said the office did not have a list of people who received badges between January 2009 and June 16, 2014. A follow-up request for more information was ignored by the office.

While Stewart said he knew of only a few badges Walter Reed gave out shortly after his election in 1984, Claire Bradley, a former girlfriend of Walter Reed’s, said Reed gave her late father, James Bradley, an honorary “special investigator” badge in 2003. She provided a photograph of the badge to The New Orleans Advocate.

It shows a gold shield with the state seal and the words “Investigator, District Attorney, 22nd JDC” embossed upon it, referring to the 22nd Judicial District, which encompasses St. Tammany and Washington parishes. The accompanying certificate identifies Bradley as a “special investigator” and includes his picture, weight, eye color, hair color and Social Security number.

Nothing on the badge indicates that it is honorary or ceremonial.

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