Archive for June, 2016

LPPJ Dues Payment Questioned

06/30/2016

Payment of fees to a police jury related group was questioned at Tuesday night’s special called meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), but it appears such payments are allowed by law, subject to jury confirmation.

Long-time political activist Bill Smith questioned whether dues payments to the Black Caucus (a group affiliated with the Police Jury Association of Louisiana (PJAL)) was legal, and implied that such payments might be malfeasance.

Said Smith, “I like to be sure and hear the auditor cover that particular line item, and tell me whether or not the Lincoln Parish Police Jury under the leadership of Jody Backus, paid Black Caucus dues, how many they paid, or did not pay. And whether or not that is legal, and whether or not that constitutes malfeasance in office.”

The auditor said that particular issue wasn’t covered in his just-completed audit.

A review this morning of the jury’s records by Lincoln Parish News Online shows that in February of this year a $150 check payable to the Black Caucus was processed. It covered the dues for three jurors: Joe Henderson, Hazel Hunter, and Sharyon Mayfield. The caucus was set to meet during the annual PJAL State Convention, March 3-5, in Shreveport.

Proper documentation was attached to the check stub.

Here is the applicable provision in the law regarding itemized expenses for jurors.

§1233. Compensation

A.(3) In addition to any other compensation or expense allowance provided by law, each parish governing authority which does not operate under a home rule charter may pay a monthly, itemized expense allowance, not to exceed two hundred dollars per month, to the members of the governing authority as payment for actual expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. Such expense allowance shall be provided upon approval of a majority of the members of the governing authority after public hearing.

As of Tuesday night, no hearing or vote of the jury had been taken on juror expenses.

LPPJ Audit Good to Go

06/29/2016

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) received an unqualified audit for 2015 from CPA William Hulsey at last night’s special called meeting.

An unqualified opinion means that the agency’s financial records and statements are fairly and appropriately presented. In the seven years since we began covering the jury, there has never been less than an unqualified opinion.

Hulsey noted that the illness of former Treasurer Bobby Grey last year made it a bit more difficult to keep things on track.

Said Hulsey, “It’s been a very difficult audit this year, because of the circumstances. It took a long time this year, there was a lot of work.”

He added, “It’s all done. It’s an unqualified opinion on both the police jury and the H. E. L. P. center. There are no findings.”

In other business the jury approved re-designating and reestablishing voting precincts for districts 6, 8, and 9.

Ouachita DA Firestorm Update

06/27/2016

Additional details of the arrest last May of two University of Alabama football players have been revealed by the Ouachita Citizen’s Zach Parker.

Six Monroe police officers involved in the arrest of two Alabama football players turned up DNA evidence and reported observing high-powered handguns and marijuana in plain view in the suspects’ automobile, as revealed in a Monroe police case file, though Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones took a pass at prosecuting the pair.

The six police officers’ reports entail a number of new details in the case, including conflicting statements made by the four men in the automobile.

See here the article.

The district attorney’s decision to keep the case away from a Ouachita Parish grand jury was reached amid ongoing scrutiny over Jones’ recent handling of an investigation into controversy surrounding Fourth Judicial District Court officials, including Jones’ contradictory statements about that investigation, its reports, his filing of misleading court documents as well as his decision to keep this newspaper’s criminal complaint out of the hands of agencies investigating the court.

See here the complete 49 page police report.

Ouachita Judges Say They’re Above the Law

06/23/2016

Judges claim immunity to lawsuits for acts of corruption

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

Some Fourth Judicial District Court judges, who face claims for damages in a lawsuit filed in federal court by their peer Judge Sharon Marchman, filed pleadings Monday arguing they cannot be sued for acts of corruption or malice.

The four defendant judges making that argument are judges Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo and Carl Sharp as well as retired Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as court administrator, at Fourth Judicial District Court for Ouachita and Morehouse parishes. They are represented by special assistant attorney general Brian D. Landry, of Shreveport.

Those four judges are just a few of a handful of defendants who Marchman claimed violated her constitutional rights when she tried to expose the defendants’ concerted efforts to cover up law clerk Allyson Campbell’s alleged payroll fraud and document destruction.

Key Witness Dead in Former Bossier Sheriff Case

06/21/2016

Prosecutors have until month’s end to seek delay in Deen trial

By Gary Hines – KTBS TV3 Shreveport

Federal prosecutors have until June 30 to ask for a delay in the corruption trial of former Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen due to the death of a key government witness, a federal judge said.

Mary Jean McBroome, 60, of Shreveport, was found dead in her vehicle last week on an oilfield road off Keithville-Keatchie Road in south Caddo Parish. She had been shot.

Sheriff’s investigators said they are continuing to investigate but have found no evidence of foul play. The coroner has not stated if foul play was involved.

There was no suicide note, authorities said.

McBroome was a prosecution witness in the upcoming federal trial of Deen and two businessmen who own Blakey Auto Plex, where McBroome worked in the office.

Deen, along with Blakey owners Clifton Blakey and Clinton Blakey, is scheduled for trial Aug. 15 on charges he illegally profited from a sweetheart deal on the trade-in of a sport utility vehicle he once drove as sheriff. Deen and the Blakeys deny wrongdoing.

Ouachita DA Creates National Firestorm

06/20/2016

From the New York Post

DA: I didn’t charge Alabama stars because they play football

By Howie Kussoy

Play football, avoid prosecution.

District attorney Jerry Jones of Louisiana is declining to press charges against two Alabama football players — left tackle Cam Robinson and safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones — who were arrested in May. While the filing from the Ouachita Parish District Attorney’s office cites insufficient evidence, Jones stated he was reluctant to hurt the players’ careers.

Both players were arrested in their hometown of Monroe, La., and were potentially facing charges of possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Robinson also could have been subject to a felony charge for illegal possession of a firearm.

“I want to emphasize once again that the main reason I’m doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and teenage years, working and sweating, while we were all in the air conditioning,” Jones told KNOE-TV.

062016 Decline

Robinson arrest

Recall that neighboring Lincoln Parish District Attorney John Belton disobeyed a Federal Judge’s order regarding school attendance zones for his kids.

Your Tax Dollars at Work!

06/20/2016

From the latest audits of the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA).

Sheriff 2015
Clerk2015
Asessor 2014

Tax Hike Bill Fails in House, Shadoin Votes w/Losers

06/19/2016

House Bill 38, a bill that would have eliminated some deductions for individual Louisiana state income tax payers, was this afternoon defeated on the floor of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

The vote was 55 no, 47 yes. See here the roll call.

Linconl/Union Parish Representative Rob Shadoin voted FOR the increase in taxes.

The bill was similar to a bill authored by Shadoin that was defeated in committee week before last.

Ouachita Court Coverup Update

06/17/2016

Defendants: Marchman has no ‘direct proof’

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

A number of defendants sued by Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman in federal court filed motions last week to dismiss her lawsuit, arguing Marchman has given no proof to support her “bizarre” and “sensational” allegations.

Marchman’s allegations that law clerk Allyson Campbell committed payroll fraud and concealed or destroyed court filings form the center of her lawsuit before U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Hicks. In her lawsuit, Marchman claims nine defendants — including Campbell, four district court judges and their attorneys — conspired to cover up Campbell’s activities and retaliated against Marchman for trying to uncover their efforts.

A number of the accusations levied and defendants named in Marchman’s lawsuit also are at the heart of litigation pursued in Fourth Judicial District Court by Monroe businessman Stanley R. Palowsky III. It was in Palowsky’s lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork, that the accusations of payroll fraud and document destruction against Campbell first surfaced. Later those accusations were the basis of Palowsky’s July 2015 lawsuit, also filed in Fourth Judicial District Court, against the law clerk and five district court judges.

LPPJ Dumpster Plan Delayed

06/15/2016

Last we left the discussion about Lincoln Parish’s trash dumpsters, Solid Waste & Recycling Chair Walter Pullen (District 6) promised at the 5/11/16 meeting that he would develop written policy for relocating dumpsters and submit it for review and approval at the next meeting.

Pullen did just as he promised. See here the proposed plan.

The plan would enable residents to circulate a petition among the area residents to relocate or abandon a dumpster site.

However, despite having sent the proposal out to all the other jurors two weeks prior to the meeting, it was obvious none of them bothered to look at the plan prior to last night’s meeting, or to make suggestions beforehand.

Typical of the discussion:

Jody Backus (District 7): “What about consolidation. That’s not a part of this, and I’ll like to see that.”

Theresa Wyatt (District 1): “If we are elected to perform certain duties, why would we put it back on the citizens?”

Skip Russell (District 8): “If we pick dumpsters up, what are the people in that geographical area do about trash?”

Backus: “It’s got to be 51% of the signatures, and no more than 25 households.”

After twenty minutes of back and forth, Pullen gave up, asking again that the members try to make suggestions prior to the next meeting.

In other business, the full jury donated their interest in the old downtown post office building to the City of Ruston.

Mayor Ronny Walker had said that an art gallery was planned for the building, but last night said that the Louisiana Department of Education declined to participate in that plan.