Last week the Louisiana Legislative Auditor released its report related to the reasons Anatola Thompson resigned from her Parish of Jefferson job, a story Slabbed broke back in September. Tom literally let the cat outta the bag last month at the Parish Council meeting, after being prevented from doing same by being forcibly removed from the prior Parish council meeting. The streets of Good Government are indeed mean streets at times.
If I could sit down with former US Attorney Jim Letten in a completely candid conversation one of the first questions I would ask would be somthing like “Jim, Byron Lee was served up to you on a silver platter about nine different ways, why in the wide wide world of sports didn’t you take him?” One of those ways Lee was served up was right here on these pages in fact. To line things up we begin with today’s NOLA.Com feature story by Andrea Shaw on the Investigative Audit’s release:
Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera said his staff launched the special investigation of Thompson Thibodeaux after turning up clues to its activities during financial reviews of West Jefferson Medical Center, the Parish Council, the public Jefferson Community Health Care Centers organization and the non-profit Jefferson Sports and Scholastic Foundation. The health clinics and sports foundation, run by Lee’s political allies, received parish money under his direction while he was on the council.
Most of that was already out in the open when I published the results of a Slabbed New Media investigation on Lee and his connections to several conprofits way back in late 2010. The one rumored Mississippi connection that I could never source was that is blood relationship existed between Eric Thompson and Mississippi’s own Congressman Bennie Thompson. On its own that does not mean anything but there is an undeniable Jackson to New Orleans cesspool connection and occasionally it manifests itself in places like Mark St Pierre’s trial so being a relative of Congressman Bennie Thompson would be of interest to me, especially to debunk the rumored connection since that is the way we roll here at Slabbed.
Lest I digress as the legislative audit report on Thompson/Thibodeaux Community Development Corporation is a 472 page whopper that will take some time to fully digest. I can tell you based upon professional experience that when language like the following appears in an audit report within the first 10 pages the whole thing is well worth reading cover to cover:
In addition, the Parish did not obtain adequate documentation from Thompson Thibodeaux supporting all of its expenditures as required by federal regulations.11 Parish employees confirmed that they did not require documentation supporting payments of expenses actually incurred by Thompson Thibodeaux prior to payment. Instead, the Parish only required Thompson Thibodeaux to provide documentation indicating that it (Thompson Thibodeaux) was obligated to pay eligible expenses. The following indicate possible violations of state and federal laws and federal regulations.
And those “possible violations of state and federal laws and federal regulations” would include the following per the report:
- “Thompson Thibodeaux Provided Services to Ineligible Applicants”
- “Expenses Not Incurred and Services Not Provided”
- “Contractors Paid in Excess of Fair Market Value”
- “Unqualified Contractors Hired as Subcontractors”
- “Subcontractor Paid for Painting His Personal Residence”
- “Contractor was Paid for Services Not Provided”
- “Parish Expenditures Not Documented”
- “Possible Conflicts of Interest”
As an added bonus Byron Lee’s replacement on the Parish Council Mark Spears is neck deep in the report and of course no report on this bunch of west bank politicos and their cronies would be complete without Derrick Shepherd being involved in one way shape or fashion. Page 10 of the report has the following flowchart which documents the incest:
Back to Derrick Shepherd and his step-mother. As an investigator I can’t imagine it gets any better than this to confirm you’re on the right track:
According to Department of Social Services (DSS) correspondence in May 2005, former state representative Derrick Shepherd M helped Thompson Thibodeaux obtain a $100,000 grant from DSS, which was funded through Louisiana House Bill number one of the 2004 Regular Session.
On May 19, 2005, Thompson Thibodeaux deposited a $100,000 grant check from DSS into its bank account. On the same day, Thompson Thibodeaux issued a $100,000 check payable to Faith Academy which was deposited into a Faith Academy bank account.
According to Eddie Williams, Jr. he signed two blank Faith Academy checks at the request of former Thompson Thibodeaux and Faith Academy Executive Director Alvin Boudreaux (now deceased). On May 27, 2005, two Faith Academy checks, one for $56,000 and the other for $500, were written payable to Cynthia Cavalier. Both checks were endorsed using the name of Cynthia Cavalier-Shepherd. When we asked Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd what services she provided for these checks, she asked for an attorney and refused to answer our questions. Mr. Eddie Lee Shepherd, Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd’s husband and the father of Derrick Shepherd, told us that Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd is Derrick Shepherd’s step-mother. We later sent Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd a certified letter requesting a meeting with her and her attorney. We received no response.
Mr. Williams further stated that in June 2005, the Thompson Thibodeaux board of directors discovered that the two checks paid to Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd were not for a mentorship program and that the board replaced Mr. Boudreaux with Jerome McGowan as Thompson Thibodeaux’s executive director. According to Mr. Williams, after the board discovered the checks were paid to Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd, he and Mr. McGowan went to Derrick Shepherd and demanded documentation to support the purpose of the funds paid to Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd. Mr. Williams stated that Derrick Shepherd provided him and Mr. McGowan with an IRS Form 1099 issued by Faith Academy to Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd and stated that she was given the funds because her house had burned down. During our audit, we did not find any record of a fire reported on property owned by Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd. Furthermore, our review of the IRS Form 1099 revealed that the Social Security number reported for Ms. Cavalier-Shepherd was not her correct Social Security number (the last digit in the number was not correct).
Derrick Shepherd refused to meet with us (LLA auditors). However, during a telephone conversation with us, Mr. Shepherd stated that he did not recall having any interaction with or obtaining grants for Thompson Thibodeaux or Faith Academy.
M During an interview with LLA Auditors, former Councilman Byron Lee stated that Derrick Shepherd was his cousin.
Like I said folks the entire 472 page report is well worth the read. If you want to know why taxes are as high and services to the public are not provided look no further because this is your tax dollars at work.
Finally the connections to West Jefferson Medical Center should merit everyone’s attention as this type stuff is evidently business as usual for the institution. It is the same players on the Parish council, along with the gang at West Jefferson Medical Center pushing Children’s Hospital in a deal worth far less financially than the one offered by HCA to operate the Parish’s two taxpayer funded hospitals. Given the myriad of ways this bunch wastes tax dollars does anyone really trust Mark Spears to look out for the public’s interest in that deal, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Jefferson Parish?
Stay tuned I imagine more is coming down the pike.