Archive for the ‘Payroll Fraud’ Category

Kennedy Says Edmonson Should Quit

02/25/2017

Zurik: Kennedy calls for State Police head’s resignation

Written by: Lee Zurik, Chief Investigative Reporter
Contributor: Tom Wright, Investigative Producer

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) –

U.S. Senator John Kennedy says the superintendent of State Police needs to resign. The former state treasurer says he doubts the investigations into State Police will be a serious one.

This follows our investigation that detailed a pricey conference trip that included a stay in the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas for four troopers.

“I like the superintendent,” Kennedy tells FOX 8. “But he has demonstrated that he is intent on being the tallest hog at the trough. And this is all taxpayer money.”

Edmonson brought 17 state employees to San Diego – and some of them brought their spouses or girlfriends. The trip included a conference and an awards ceremony where the International Chiefs of Police gave Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson a lifetime achievement award. When you calculate salaries, overtime, hotel, flights and meals, the trip cost taxpayers about $70,000.

“He took 17 of his top people and said, y’all come at taxpayers’ expense to San Diego to watch me get an award,” Kennedy says, “and listen, let’s go spend $70,000 on a nice little vacation here, when the state’s running deficits. But this wasn’t a conference to learn something. This was 17 of his friends from State Police, all of whom, the big muckety-mucks making the hundred grand a year-plus, who went out there and had a little vacation to watch him get an award.”

State Police Road Trip Update

02/21/2017

Zurik: Edmonson may have signed off on troopers’ Vegas stop

Written by: Lee Zurik, Chief Investigative Reporter
Contributor: Tom Wright, Investigative Producer

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But for four employees of Louisiana State Police, the trip from Point A to Point B comes with a 350-mile detour, via Sin City.

Now signatures on internal documents, approving the travel on your dime, may have serious implications for the public staff involved.

In October 2016, during the state’s budget crunch, LSP sent 17 people to a four-day conference in San Diego for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. When you calculate salaries, overtime, meals, flights and hotels, the total cost comes to around $70,000.

While the Louisiana State Police Superintendent Michael Edmonson claims he didn’t know about the trip until last week, it appears he signed off on at least one expense report in late December – essentially approving one employee’s side trip through the Grand Canyon and Vegas, paid for with your money.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

02/19/2017

Four Louisiana State Police officials under investigation for Las Vegas ‘side trip,’ overtime

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

A group of Louisiana State Police officials, including the head of the agency’s Internal Affairs Division, were paid thousands of dollars in overtime last year while driving across the country to attend a law enforcement conference in San Diego — a scenic but circuitous road trip that included overnight stays at the Grand Canyon and a Las Vegas resort and casino.

The questionable expenses, outlined in travel records obtained by The Advocate, were on top of tens of thousands of dollars the State Police spent otherwise to send at least 15 people to the annual conference in October of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a four-day event that attracts a who’s who of law enforcement leaders.

Col. Mike Edmonson, the State Police superintendent, said he had not authorized the troopers to charge overtime — three of the four did, he said — or to take such an indirect route to the conference. The troopers drove 3,906 miles altogether but went hundreds of miles out of their way at times for reasons that are under investigation.

Ouachita Court Coverup Update

02/12/2017

Palowsky appeal gets court date in Baton Rouge

The First Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge could hear arguments later this month in Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III’s lawsuit against Allyson Campbell, a law clerk at Fourth Judicial District Court, as well as against five judges of the district court.

The Feb. 23 hearing is among several on a docket that begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Southern University Law Center’s A.A. Lenior Hall off Roosevelt Steptoe Drive in Baton Rouge.

The three judges presiding over the docket including Palowsky’s hearing include Chief Judge Vanessa Whipple, Judge John Michael Guidry and Judge Page McClendon.

Stanley R. Palowsky III v. Allyson Campbell and others, which was first filed in July 2015, centers on Palowsky’s claims that Campbell concealed or destroyed documents he filed with the court as part of a separate lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork, and others. Palowsky also accused Campbell of payroll fraud.

Marchman: Special assistant AG involved in conspiracy

As part of her federal lawsuit against Fourth Judicial District Court officials and their attorneys, Judge Sharon Marchman filed paperwork earlier this week disputing a special assistant attorney general’s claim he had not conspired with others to accuse the judge of criminal acts.

Marchman’s lawsuit centers on claims that law clerk Allyson Campbell, Fourth Judicial District Court judges, and their attorneys retaliated against her and violated her constitutional rights when she tried to expose Campbell’s alleged payroll fraud and destruction of court documents.

Lawrence Pettiette, a Shreveport attorney who sometimes handles legal work for the state Attorney General’s office, filed a motion to dismiss Marchman’s claims against him last month.

Marchman filed a response Feb. 5, arguing Pettiette reached parts of his defense “without any citation, argument or analysis.”

DA Asset Forfeiture Account Pilfered

01/23/2017

Almost $200,000 in Seized Cash Assets Never Deposited into District Attorney’s Forfeiture Account

An investigative audit has found that $194,900 in seized cash assets that should have been deposited into the Special Asset Forfeiture account held by the District Attorney’s Office for the 15th Judicial District never made into the account, the Legislative Auditor said in a report released today.

The 15th Judicial District encompasses Acadia, Lafayette, and Vermilion parishes.

The assets were seized by Acadia Parish law enforcement agencies between January 2003 and February 2016. A former Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy was responsible for receiving the cash assets and depositing the funds into the Special Asset Forfeiture account.

The money was discovered missing in April 2016 when the District Attorney’s Office found that several cash asset seizures given to the deputy had not been deposited. The deputy admitted taking the money and using it for personal purposes. She was charged with felony theft. The case is pending.

Here is the complete report.

Kind of a Pricey Fundraiser for a Sheriff

12/17/2016

Fundraiser Invitation for Tangipahoa Sheriff Edwards

Gov Edwards Brother (Tangi Sheriff) Clams Up

12/16/2016

Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards, brother of Gov. John Bel Edwards, short on info about involvement in FBI raid

ADVOCATE STAFF REPORT

Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards said Friday that no one in his office — other than two people who have already been charged — have been notified that they’re targets of a federal investigation into a drug task force.

The federal probe is looking into officers suspected of stealing drugs and cash seized during narcotics investigations.

“I can tell you that my office has cooperated with the federal authorities since the beginning of their investigation,” the sheriff said.

Edwards, the brother of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, had his computer seized by the FBI in Thursday’s raid of the sheriff’s office and Hammond Police Department, according to a law enforcement official.

The sheriff didn’t answer any questions at the quick, two-minute news conference. After he finished reading a statement, Daniel Edwards walked away from a podium while a reporter shouted a question, asking if he had retained an attorney.

Daniel Edwards remained inside the Sheriff’s Office for the first several hours of the FBI’s search Thursday. After lunch, the sheriff climbed in his SUV and drove past a group of reporters without commenting. Calls to his cellphone were not returned.

More of Louisiana’s Finest Pinched

12/15/2016

FBI raids Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, Hammond police HQ as part of probe of drug task force

BY JIM MUSTIAN AND FAIMON A. ROBERTS III | jmustian@theadvocate.com froberts@theadvocate.com

The FBI raided the offices of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Hammond Police Department on Thursday, seizing computers, cellphones and case files in simultaneous searches stemming from a broadening U.S. Justice Department investigation of a federal drug task force.

The daylong raids closed down two government buildings in Hammond as agents conducted interviews and carried out at least two search warrants related to a nearly year-old inquiry into a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force accused of stealing cash from drug dealers, selling confiscated narcotics and tampering with witnesses.

Two former members of the New Orleans-based task force — both of whom worked for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office — are facing federal charges, and one pleaded guilty earlier this year to state drug conspiracy charges.

Thursday’s searches marked an escalation of the misconduct investigation, which has been steeped in secrecy for months as investigators dug into the background of several task force members, including Chad Scott, a longtime DEA agent who has been suspended indefinitely and stripped of his badge.

Non-essential personnel were sent home, law enforcement sources said, and visitors were steered away from the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department buildings.

The materials taken included a computer from the office of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, said one law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the operation. Edwards is the brother of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Rapides DA Bookkeeper in the Till

11/21/2016

From the Louisiana Legislative Auditor:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – Seized Cash Assets Not Deposited

Records indicate that the District Attorney for the 9th Judicial District (District Attorney) received $794,166 in seized cash assets from local law enforcement agencies from January 1, 2009 through October 31, 2015, that were not deposited into the District Attorney’s bank accounts. The records further indicate that: (a) $267,640 in funds from sources other than seized assets were deposited improperly into the asset forfeiture bank account; and (b) the District Attorney’s Office failed to disburse $281,015 in asset forfeitures as ordered by the 9th Judicial District Court (Court). Former Bookkeeper Margaurette Beard was primarily responsible for receiving, recording, and depositing seized cash assets and disbursing those funds in accordance with Court judgments. By failing to ensure that all seized cash assets were properly recorded and deposited, allowing funds from sources other than asset forfeitures to be diverted into the asset forfeiture bank account, failing to comply with Court orders, and failing to properly disburse asset forfeiture funds, Ms. Beard may have violated state and federal laws.

Several years ago, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) did a series of stories on the pitfalls of asset forfeiture laws.

About Those Red Light Cameras

10/26/2016

Ex-CEO of company that operates redlight cameras in Lafayette sentenced to prison for bribery scandal

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP/KLFY) — The former CEO of a Phoenix-based traffic-camera company, Redflex, has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for her role in a scheme to bribe public officials in Ohio’s capital in exchange for city contracts, the Associated Press Reports.

A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, sentenced Karen Finley on Wednesday to 14-months in prison.

Finley pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit bribery and she now awaits sentencing in a similar corruption case in Chicago.

Ohio lobbyist John Raphael was sentenced in June to 15 months in federal prison for extortion in the scandal.

Authorities said Raphael extorted money in the form of campaign contributions for elected officials from the traffic-camera company Redflex for contracts awarded by the Columbus City Council.

According to the Lafayette Consolidated Government, Lafayette’s red light camera program, SafeLight, is operated by Redflex Traffic Systems INC. Redflex is responsible for the administration of the entire program.