Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr.: A mantle of malfeasance Part II. A guest post by Whitmergate

Aside from the obvious and expected role of a District Attorney, to enforce the criminal laws of his Parish and State, that office is also charged in many instances with the obligation to seek and recover monetary restitution from any individual and/or any legal entity that has, in violation of parish or State law, profited from their wrongful conduct by way of a civil lawsuit.

As it concerns public officials, elected or appointed, DA Connick has failed to investigate, indict, prosecute or convict any officials suspected or known to have broken the laws of Jefferson Parish or the State of Louisiana. The fact is, DA Connick’s intentional refusal and/or gross negligence by not bringing any of these individuals to justice has resulted in unjust economic gains to these same miscreants at the prejudice of the taxpayers who have a right to honest services from their public officials, including HIM! To put it another way, we, the citizen/taxpayer, deserve to receive what we paid for, expecting public officials to do the right thing; not what these officials believe they deserve by covering up for each other and distributing our tax dollars to benefit themselves, family, friends and cronies as they deem fit.

There are also provisions under our laws that provide for both civil and criminal penalties in addition to any recovery. This too is ours, the taxpayers’ just reward for the punishment of these wrongdoers.

Mr. Connick is most certainly guilty of malfeasance, and most probably misprision of a felony. I will in a subsequent post detail a litany of wrongdoing by individuals seemingly protected by DA Connick, including Council members and contract/personal service campaign contributors. For the moment however, there is no other person than former Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, whose conduct while in office provides undeniable credibility to my belief that Mr. Connick has failed us; he has betrayed his oath of office.

The grievances against Mr. Wilkinson are many and substantial. From his facilitating the River Birch contract fiasco; hustling political contributions from outside counsel chosen to represent Jefferson Parish; maintaining a full time law practice while obligated to be a full time Parish Attorney as required by the Parish Charter, and on and on and on. Presently, I will examine three accounts of Mr. Wilkinson’s violations that DA Connick did know or was charged with knowing and/or should have known due to the public record and the public scrutiny these acts by Mr. Wilkinson were subjected to in the media.

1) PROHIBITED POLITICAL ACTIVITY: Tom Wilkinson, in violation of Parish code of Ordinances, Article I, Section 23 Political Activities of Parish Employees, 2 (h),(i), as Officer of the Tim Coulon Campaign Committee, Inc., continued to file reports with the address of his public office being the office of said campaign committee. Wilkinson confirmed this violation in an interview with Val Bracy, Fox News. According to the transcript in Anne Marie Vandenweghe’s “Whistleblower Claim” filed with the Jefferson Parish Personnel Board, we further learn that this matter had been brought to the attention of the DA’s office. Mr. Louis Gruntz, Asst. PA contacted the DA’s office; Mr. Wimberly refused to prosecute because he was of the opinion that the matter had prescribed since two years had lapsed, relying on a January 2007 document. The fact is, the DA’s office failed to perform due diligence as Ms. Vandenweghe had, by requesting the most recent filings from The La. Secretary of State’s office and receiving a document that reflected Jan.28, 2009 as being the most recent report signed by Wilkinson. (It should be noted that Tim Whitmer is also in violation as it pertains to this matter). As of this writing this matter is open.

What is more disturbing is that this conduct by Wilkinson and Whitmer began during the tenure of Tim Coulon while Parish President. No wonder these two individuals acquired an attitude that is so reprehensible of Jefferson Parish Officials, ‘the rules don’t apply to us’.

The penalty provided for violations of 23-2 provides for a hearing by the Council to determine if the political activity provisions were violated. If they were the employee could be dismissed. Of course Wilkinson (as is Whitmer) is no longer employed, so it would seem he gets away with it. Not so!

Our DA can proceed under these provisions, and he obligated to by law. Part II Code of Ordinances, 1 General Provisions:

Sec. 1-10. – Penalty; maximum; continuing violations.

It shall be unlawful for any person to violate or fail to comply with any provision of this Code and where no specific penalty is provided therefor, the violation of any provision of this Code shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months or by both such fine and imprisonment, within the discretion of the court.

Each day any violation of any provision of this Code shall continue constitutes a separate offense. (Code 1961, § 1-8; Ord. No. 16605, § 1, 9-11-8)

Sec. 1-11. – Civil enforcement.

(a) In addition to criminal penalties provided for in section 1-10, the provisions of this Code may be enforced by appropriate civil proceedings in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(b)The parish may also cause any and all utilities (whether publicly or privately owned) to be shut off and services discontinued, and may cause the building or property to be closed pursuant to section 27-181. (Ord. No. 16779, § I, 2-5-86; Ord. No. 23258, § 1, 2-27-08)

2) PAYROLL FRAUD: Tom Wilkinson, as Parish Attorney, was responsible for the management of his office, both ministerial and personnel. His office could best be described as incompetent and inept, as it remains today for the most part under his surrogate, Peggy Barton, appointed interim Parish Attorney by the acting Parish President, Steve Theriot. That’s another story.

We learn through the press and reports of the Federal investigation that there are three “paralegals” on the Parish Attorneys payroll, either illicitly or illegally (Karen Parker, Ken Trahan, Tony Thomassie). Peggy Barton was designated by Wilkinson as the Supervisor of Paralegals. Both are equally responsible for this deceit. Mr. Connick you can prosecute under La. R.S. 14:138,§138:

Public payroll fraud

A.  Public payroll fraud is committed when:

(1)  Any person shall knowingly receive any payment or compensation, or knowingly permit his name to be carried on any employment list or payroll for any payment or compensation from the state, for services not actually rendered by himself, or for services grossly inadequate for the payment or compensation received or to be received according to such employment list or payroll; or

(2)  Any public officer or public employee shall carry, cause to be carried, or permit to be carried, directly or indirectly, upon the employment list or payroll of his office, the name of any person as employee, or shall pay any employee, with knowledge that such employee is receiving payment or compensation for services not actually rendered by said employee or for services grossly inadequate for such payment or compensation.

B.  This Section shall not apply in the following situations:

(1)  When a bona fide public officer or public employee, who is justifiably absent from his job or position for a reasonable time, continues to receive his usual compensation or a part thereof.

(2)  When arrangements between firefighters to swap work or perform substitute work with or for each other is done in compliance with the provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207(p)(3) and the associated regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations and in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the appointing authority.

C.  Whoever commits the crime of public payroll fraud shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than two years, or both.

And yes Mr. Connick we have laws here in Jefferson Parish for you can consider, together with Sections 1-10 and 1-11 of the JP code of Ordinances referenced in the preceding “Prohibited Political Activity” above per the  Jefferson Parish Code of Ordinances,

Sec. 23-115. – Illegal payments.

No public employee or person shall give, pay, loan, transfer or deliver, or offer to give, pay, loan, transfer or deliver, directly or indirectly, to any other public employee or person anything of economic value which he would be prohibited from receiving by any other provision of this division.

Sec. 23-118. – Administration of sections pertaining to public employees.

(e) Civil penalties for illegal payments. The parish attorney, district attorney or the personnel board may bring on behalf of the parish a civil action to recover from any person who shall violate the provisions of this division in the district court having jurisdiction where such violation occurs, a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00). (Code 1961, 13-51)

3) OUESTIONABLE DISCRETIONARY RAISES: During a period of approximately 36 months, from June 2007 to January 2010, Wilkinson’s salary had skyrocketed from $116,000 dollars to $194,000 dollars, an obscene 60% increase. This figure would add significantly to Wilkinson’s future retirement. (in fact Whitmer had similar salary increases in about the same time frame, and we now know it did increase his retirement benefits ). It is also important to note, that in 2006, Whitmer changed the organizational chart, having Wilkinson report directly to him and not the Parish President. This was a blatant violation of the CHARTER and may well explain the actions of both men as events unfolded, including the River Birch conspiracy still in play. What we have learned since the departure of both these men is that these “discretionary” raises were in violation of Parish guidelines under the Executive pay plan. The Parish Council acknowledged the same in amending Ordinance No. 18483, to revise Rule 17.5, so that such raises are to be reviewed by the Council and with a capped percentile. Whitmer and Wilkinson claim that Broussard signed off on their raises, I have my doubts. In any case the was greed that motivated the end result, using their official positions to receive unlawful raises, with collateral effect of increasing their retirement benefits with the same pen. Under the provisions of the Jefferson Code of Ordinances 23, ARTICLE 5, Division II Ethical Standards Public Employees, the District Attorney can and should take action not only against Wilkinson, but his co-conspirator Whitmer as provided under the following:

Sec. 23-113. – Abuse of office.

No public employee shall use the power of his office or position, directly or indirectly, in a manner intended to induce or coerce any person or other public employee to provide himself, any person or other public employee with anything of economic value.

Sec. 23-115. – Illegal payments.

No public employee or person shall give, pay, loan, transfer or deliver, or offer to give, pay, loan, transfer or deliver, directly or indirectly, to any other public employee or person anything of economic value which he would be prohibited from receiving by any other provision of this division.

Sec. 23-118. – Administration of sections pertaining to public employees

(d)Civil action for damages. The parish attorney, district attorney or the personnel board may bring a civil action against any public employee or former public employee in the district court in which the employee or former employee is domiciled who shall, to his economic advantage, have acted in violation of this division, and in such action may recover on behalf of the parish an amount equal to such economic advantage.

(e) Civil penalties for illegal payments. The parish attorney, district attorney or the personnel board may bring on behalf of the parish a civil action to recover from any person who shall violate the provisions of this division in the district court having jurisdiction where such violation occurs, a civil penalty of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00). (Code 1961, § 13-51)

And why is Mr. Connick obligated to bring action against Wilkinson and all other Parish officials who have disregarded the laws? Because that what he swore an oath to. Can we depend on the current Parish Attorney, Peggy Barton to act, even though she was directed to do so by the Council some months ago? Of course not, she has been in the Parish Attorney’s office since 1994, and was 1st Assistant to Wilkinson for at least 10 years. She was appointed by Theriot to follow through with his mission: stonewall and cover-up. These Council members knew full well that any directive to go against their own would be put on the back burner, ignored, hoping people would forget.

Well Mr. Connick, I’m not going to forget, and I’m not going to let you forget: You Sir need to do the job you were elected to do. We the citizens of Jefferson Parish demand an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

15 thoughts on “Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick, Jr.: A mantle of malfeasance Part II. A guest post by Whitmergate”

  1. Thank you Whitmergate, it seems that there are a few items that should be focused on. Starting with under penalty of law, which cannot be ignored. Not only to be addressed, but carried to the fullest extent considering the fact that these positions are taken under oath, as a term and condition for the position. There is no reason that our elected officials should be so shallow and arrogant, as to reward themselves excessively, knowing good and well that their decisions would not be tolerated . WAKE UP PEOPLE! These people are no more special than you an I, Yet they believe in their own minds that they deserve what they can manipulate and steal from the system. Never let accountability and transparency are ever denied. I’ll get the marshmallows, you turn up the heat.

  2. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOowweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee How about it Mr. Connick ? – Please do your job or make a public appearance and tell the good voters if you have been ordered to stand down in your prosecution to the federal investigation so we can cut you some slack. If you remain silent the voters can only and should indeed suspect you are part of the corruption. A press conference of 5 minutes can help clear up the suspicion, otherwise I would suspect voters will be looking for legal means, petitions, etc. to remove you from office. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  3. As a citizen of East Jefferson that tries to abide by the law I ask the following, If a taxpaying landowner who holds the title to a certain piece of property in East Jefferson and pays taxes assessed for that property since 1945 to this current year can lose the use of that property to others that get approval from the East Jefferson Parish Council to construct dwellings on said property without ownership what is this called?

    Who investigates and determines the accountability of these actions and what rights if any does the landowner have if that council body allows others to use property without legal rights to do so. Also, why did they pass a building permit from the coucil rather than the normal method of processing a building permit.

    Further, why does the Building Permit Office use street addresses to locate building permits rather than the Tax Assessor method of property description?

    Seems as if more of the same corruption of the Aaron administration keeps poping up. I just wonder if one day they do that to another individuals property? Seems as if local corruption may be as bad as the Federal Corruption.

  4. Let us not forget Debbie Villio’s filmed admission of wrongdoing.
    (Thanks to the GREAT VAL BRACY)

    They should be wearing ORANGE Jumpsuits picking up trash on the roadside!

  5. Patricia, you can rest assured that Ms. Villio is one of the many individuals to be discussed in the future, and to some extent has been already. Unfortunately for Mr. Connick, he may have himself have violated Parish law by supporting her.

    The disscussion about DA Connick’s failure to investigate and prosecute Wilkinson is not the end of this saga. I would suggest that Mr. Connick get a copy of Ms. Vandenweghe’s “Whistleblower Claim” and either start or continue from there of whom and what possible violations were comitted. This claim is public record, and as such, the DA’s office has no defense as to lack of knowledgeof the events enumerated therein. To ignore this information is of and in itself an act of maleficence.

    Also, the recitation of certain Parish and State laws was by no means an exhaustive research of the other possible laws that Wilkinson or other individuals could be charged with. I’m sure that the DA’s office has enough “legal” beavers to provide him with that information.

    It would be naive of me, or of the public, to think Mr. Connick is not aware of other suspected or committed crimes and the identity of those persons responsible. Parish, State and Federal Governments all have varying laws that obligate Mr. Connick as the District Attorney, and as a private individual to report wrongdoing to the proper authorities, and in some instances may subject that person to criminal charges for failing to do so. It would be my impression that Mr. Connick is particularly vulnerable to such a charge of misprision in failing to do so.

    It would also be incumbant upon the District Attorney’s office to a file formal complaint with the Disciplinary Committee of the Louisiana Bar should his investigations concerning conduct of any lawyer warrant such action. I would think Mr. Connick, having served on the Judiciary Commission on Ethics, would be particularly aggressive on these matters.

    And Mr. Connick, there will be Part 3.

  6. Whoa. Now that is blood in the water Patricia.

    Ahem. My arse. Larry looked good. WTF.

    I lOVE this blog. What a blast from the past.

    I am circling slowly. Thank you for throwing out some chum.

    Memories. Professional courtesy. Wash DC. Archbishop Hannan. Bob Livingston. Clinton impeachment. Hypocrisy. Whew.

    Candy Gram. Land Shark. Slabbed !

    Sharkpuppet. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into politics.

  7. Watch your p’s and q’s, Sharky. I would not want people to confuse our monikers and have my supremely sterling reputation sullied. I trust you will not.

  8. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Dear Wayne Weiser: If the property you speak of is yours I would start by calling your councilman and demand some answers ASAP. If answers are not forth coming in 7-14 days then I would write a certified letter explaining the situation to the JP Parish Attorney’s Office. If you get no response to your satisfaction then seek out an investigative reporter such as Val Bracey, at FOX8IVE, who is familiar with JP to review the situation and JP response to your questions.Let us know what your plight is in a few weeks. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOwweeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  9. Sock Puppet. Enunciate.

    I Am Sharkpuppet. You are Sock Puppet.

    Wait for it. Wait for it.

    Yes. I will be playing with the slabbin Sock Puppets theatre group soon ‘en homage ‘ to you our Hero.

    I will indeed mind my p’s and q’s. Wantcha to be proud PoppaSock.

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