So who are we to believe folks, the 2016 Auditors or the Outgoing City Attorney? This is what the draft 2016 audit report says:
And per Cassandra Favre this what Board Attorney Trent Favre said the FBI said at the last City Council meeting:
Their findings were that fraud had occurred, that the fraud was committed by Chief De Nardo through the processes of payroll to his personal account. They cleared Patricia De Nardo in their investigation, she was not complicit in the fraud. They determined that there was no other person involved in the fraud.
Did the FBI truly tell Trent Favre that Denardo acted alone with “no other person involved in the fraud”? My informed opinion is no way folks as Favre was whitewashing what happened and blamed the dead man, which is easy to do considering the circumstances plus he is contradicted by the City’s own audit firm who used the term “collusion” to describe the events.
Slabbed New Media is conducting its own investigation into the events leading to the suicide of Mike Denardo as a police department that was seething with corruption imploded under the weight of years of lies and deceit. I have interviewed sources close to the investigation as well as several former City employees that have requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter and fear of reprisal. I also spent the better part of Wednesday at the Bay St Louis Council chambers combing through years of official Council minutes. I’d like to personally thank Mayor Mike Favre, who ultimately declined to be interviewed about this topic but who ensured the complete and total cooperation of the City and Deputy Council Clerk Caitlin Thompson, who assisted on Wednesday fetching the 8 or 9 minute books. The City Council has two keepers in Council Clerk Tilley and her Deputy Clerk Ms. Thompson.
Ultimately I scheduled payroll transactions that were done in Ms. Patricia Denardo’s name stretching back to 2014 and it was very clear from the annual salary ordinances that she was being paid back to the previous City Council in 2013. Those early records were fragmentary but I still managed to schedule 65 paychecks totaling $78,209.71 gross payroll that were issued in her name. We also obtained Ms. Denardo’s salary history from FEMA dating to 2008 which indicate she started with FEMA in late 2007 at GS-11 on the federal salary scale. Notably Ms. Denardo’s own LinkedIn page contains work dates that correspond to the salary information Slabbed obtained via FOIA.
There is much work that remains to duplicate the FBI investigation within the constraints of not being able to obtain warrants so this project is ongoing but we will not stop until the Citizens of the Bay St Louis get some much needed transparency on how the City ran under former Mayor Les Fillingame.
To understand how the auditors came to their conclusion the Payroll Fraud involved collusion is to understand how the City processes its bi-weekly payroll. It is also clear that certain personnel actions taken by new Mayor Mike Favre directly relate to what I think the FBI really told him and the City Attorney a couple of months ago.
Slabbed is continuing the quest to establish communication with Ms. Denardo. She is certainly aware Slabbed is actively investigating this topic. We are also always ready to speak with current or former employees that can shed more light on this topic. I have reason to believe the FBI has closed it file on this matter because the amounts involved here are chump change for a federal prosecution among other reasons. That does not mean local law enforcement is powerless to prosecute here but ultimately our District Attorney would have to step up. There is no evidence that would indicate DA Joel Smith has any interest in this matter.
This is the set up piece for what is to come and now I urge caution on those of you moved to comment. A man is dead and his family is still grieving. I do believe Attorney Favre when he said the FBI cleared Patricia Denardo for reasons I’ll reveal later. In linking the applicable statute it should also be clear that some of those that knew what was happening and did as they were told could not meet all of the crime’s elements and in that context I’d caution against labeling City employees as crooks because such would be a good way to get yourself sued. The truth is bad enough folks.
Unfortunately is also clear that the aftermath of Mike Denardo’s last crime includes those with the least amount of culpability suffering some of the harsher consequences and we’ll be endeavoring to tell that story too.
Slabbed has confirmed the identity of Sheriff Adam’s tipster with multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation and it makes so much sense we all should have figured it out on our own. By way of a hint I’ll add if an organization that maintains general counsel discovers a crime, it would naturally fall to the General Counsel to contact Law Enforcement.
I end this post with a three dates: August 17, 2016 which is the date of the last paycheck issued in Ms. Denardo’s name, August 31, 2016 which was the date of Chief Denardo’s last paycheck and September 8, 2016, which was the day then Chief Denardo took his own life. Those dates are important because it tells us that sometime between August 18, 2016 and August 31, 2016 Sheriff Adam was contacted about the payroll fraud.
Next up Slabbed presents some documents and we drill down on those 65 paychecks, then we marry what we’ve found to a timeline of events that will lead everyone to some very disturbing, inescapable conclusions. Stay tuned.