Many months and resignations later, Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera has issued a report on the question of payroll fraud in the Jefferson Parish Attorney’s Office and the answer is yes Virginia, Aaron Broussard, Tom Wilkinson and Tim Whitmer are likely petty criminals that used the Parish’s payroll system to enrich relative and crony alike. The media coverage of the report has been extensive and I’m not going to reinvent the wheel in the interest of time. That said there are 3 points I want to stress:
1. A reader sent us the link to the Fox 8 report. By rights we should be highlighting their coverage since it was their reporter Val Bracy, who broke much of this news. Fox 8, which is owned by Tom Benson, in a move that rivals the stupidity in hiring Mike Ditka to coach the Saints, did not renew Val’s contract and she left the air in August. She deserves a Peabody Award for her Jefferson Parish reporting IMHO. None of Val’s sources on Jefferson Parish trust Lee Zurich and I’m not saying that to be ugly to Lee, who I enjoy watching. It is just a simple fact.
2. Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court John Gegenheimer has been caught in a lie and is now trying to weasel his way out of it. We call politicians who do this ‘Lying Sacks of Shit” here on Slabbed but Gegenheimer has good company there as we’ve called the Prez the same thing.
3. Somebody is lying to the auditors and that isn’t good folks. This excerpt for Purpera’s report illustrates that point:
On January 26, 2009, Mr. Thomassie was hired by the Parish Attorney’s office as a part-time paralegal, although he did not have a paralegal certificate and did not perform paralegal duties. Mr. Thomassie was immediately assigned to the Code Enforcement Department. According to Ms. Debbie Villio, former director of code enforcement, she was called into a meeting with Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Whitmer. During that meeting, she was informed that Mr. Thomassie would be working as a part-time inspector assigned to the Code Enforcement Department. She assigned Mr. Thomassie to report to Mr. Bill Howard and to patrol the West Bank looking for signs on public rights-of-way and remove them. Mr. Thomassie was also loaned to the Street Lighting Department for a few hours per week. Ms. Villio stated that she did not continue to monitor Mr. Thomassie and assumed that Mr. Howard would supervise him. Because she did not hear any complaints about Mr. Thomassie, she assumed that he was doing his job. Mr. Thomassie was paid a total of $18,914 until his position was eliminated on February 5, 2010.
According to Mr. Howard, he was Mr. Thomassie’s supervisor “on paper”; however, he did not direct or supervise any of Mr. Thomassie’s work. Mr. Thomassie reported directly to Ms. Villio. Mr. Howard stated that each day he or his secretary would call Ms. Villio’s office to see if Mr. Thomassie worked his hours for the day. He would then fill out a daily time sheet for Mr. Thomassie and turn in the time sheet to the Code Enforcement office.
We requested the time sheets prepared by Mr. Howard from the Code Enforcement office as documentation of the hours worked by Mr. Thomassie. The Code Enforcement Department could not provide the time sheets and stated that Mr. Howard did not turn in time sheets for Mr. Thomassie. If the time sheets were submitted by Mr. Howard, the Parish may have violated Louisiana law by not retaining the time sheets for at least three years. We also requested documentation of Mr. Thomassie’s work for the Street Lighting Department. They were able to provide documentation detailing that Mr. Thomassie worked 10 days inspecting street lights. However, the documentation does not detail the number of hours worked.
Is Villio lying or is Howard? Or was Villio too busy running a political campaign while on the taxpayer dime to know what was going on in the department she oversaw? There is still lots that needs fleshing out here but don’t hold your breath for DA Paul Connick to go after Villio, who once worked at the DA’s office and whom Connick supported in the election for Judge Joan Benge’s seat on the 24th Judicial District Courts. In fact, Connick has pretty much been in hiding since it was revealed one of his own staffers was making money from Lagniappe.
Rich Rainey has a great report over at the Times Picayune complete with on the record nonsensical quotes from Gegenheimer along with Slabbed favorite Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino. Fox 8’s report is here and the Channel 4 report is here.
I understand there is another report still to come so stay tuned folks.