Louisiana news briefs
IberiaBank to lay off 97 Teche Federal workers
LAFAYETTE (AP) — IberiaBank Corp. plans to lay off 97 workers at Teche Federal Bank’s corporate headquarters in New Iberia. That’s according to documents filed Monday with the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
The layoffs are the result of IberiaBank’s acquisition of Teche Holding Co., the holding company for Teche Federal. The layoffs are scheduled to take place in various departments in two two-week periods. The first begins May 31 and the second begins on June 30.
Lafayette-based IberiaBank announced a $161 million stock deal for Teche Federal in January. Teche shareholders must approve the deal, but a date has not been set for the vote.
In January, IberiaBank said the deal would generate pre-tax savings of $19 million a year, with $11.4 million of that from reductions in employee compensation and benefits.
The combined company was expected to result in significant consolidation. The companies’ corporate offices lie 30 miles apart, and eight of Teche’s 20 branches lie within a mile of an existing IberiaBank branch, according to an investor presentation filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The overlap affects all four of Teche’s branches in Lafayette, all three in New Iberia and one of three in Baton Rouge.
House backs bill creating rules for surrogacy
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A proposal to create a legal framework for surrogacy births in Louisiana sailed through the House of Representatives with a 79-14 vote Tuesday, despite opposition from the state’s Catholic bishops.
Rep. Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie, the bill’s sponsor, reached a compromise with most Christian conservative groups over the proposal, eliminating much of the potential opposition for passage.
However, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops remains opposed to the bill because the church opposes surrogacy and in-vitro fertilization as undermining the dignity of women, children and human reproduction and as causing the destruction of embryos.
Louisiana law has few regulations governing surrogacy, the arrangement in which a woman carries and gives birth to a baby for another couple. It isn’t illegal in the state, but contracts between a couple and its surrogate aren’t enforceable in court. The woman who gives birth is presumed to be the child’s mother.
Jindal’s Asia trip costs taxpayers $57,000
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s weeklong business mission to Asia cost taxpayers roughly $57,000.
More than half of the tab was for the governor and first lady’s security team. Taxpayers picked up state troopers’ lodging, meals, airfare, dry cleaning and subway tickets.
Added expenses included breakfast meetings and rental cars as the governor and his entourage hopped from Taiwan to South Korea and then to Japan in mid-January.
“On the trip, we met with about a dozen companies that are actively considering large potential manufacturing projects in our state. It is clear there is a high level of interest in Louisiana among companies based in Asia because of our state’s economic momentum and continuous growth, and we expect the trip will have a high return on investment for taxpayers,” the governor said in a prepared statement Monday.
Officer gets probation
for misusing FBI database
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A longtime law enforcement officer has been sentenced to one year of probation and fined $10,000 on federal charges of using an FBI database to do unauthorized criminal background checks on two people.
Federal authorities have not elaborated on why Chad Hazelwood did the background checks, other than to state the checks were not related to law enforcement work, and court documents offer no details.
Hazelwood worked in local law enforcement for some two decades, serving with the New Iberia Police Department, Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and, most recently, the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office, which he left in July 2012.
U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Michael Hill scolded Hazelwood on Tuesday, telling the former officer that he has tarnished the badge.
Hearing set in slogan case
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The legal fight over a billboard that features the state’s tourism slogan as part of a push to expand Medicaid continues in Baton Rouge.
A hearing in Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s federal lawsuit against MoveOn.Org is set today in U.S. District Court.
At issue is Move.On’s Baton Rouge billboard ad that uses Louisiana’s “Pick Your Passion” tourism slogan.
The billboard is critical of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s refusal to expand Medicaid in Louisiana under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Dardenne filed suit in March. He argues that organizations should not be allowed to use the state tourism slogan to deliver a political message.
MoveOn says the billboard message is protected by the First Amendment.
Orleans coroner: Glover’s death still undetermined
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard says he does not have any new evidence that would make him change the death certificate to “homicide” for a man who was shot and burned by New Orleans police after Hurricane Katrina.
That means the cause of Henry Glover’s death remains officially unknown.
“There is no new scientific evidence to base a reclassification and the U.S. attorney and the FBI have declined to present any additional evidence for me to evaluate and reclassify this death,” Minyard wrote in a news release. “For this reason, I am today leaving this matter as Undetermined.”
He agreed to reopen the investigation after a Dec. 16 protest by Glover’s family and their supporters.
The family is upset but hopes coroner-elect Jeffery Rouse will re-open the case when his term begins in May, said Glover’s aunt, Rebecca Glover.
Former officer David Warren was acquitted on federal charges after telling a jury that he thought he saw a gun in Glover’s hand and was afraid for his life. He had been convicted in 2010, but that verdict was overturned because he was tried with officers accused of covering up the killing.
“I’m not giving up. Minyard’s sitting there playing games, waiting till he leaves office,” Rebecca Glover said. “David Warren admitted in court he shot my nephew. It is what it is. We need some justice.”
Minyard also said state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell declined to get involved, saying local prosecutors should be the ones to guide the coroner in evaluating cause of death.
However, a spokesman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said that cannot happen at present.
“The district attorney has said as long as the federal prosecutions relating to the Glover matter are ongoing, that we would not open any investigations regarding it,” Christopher Bowman said .
One officer’s case, that of Gregory McRae, remains under appeal, though the same federal appeals panel that ordered a new trial for Warren upheld McRae’s conviction. He was found guilty of burning Glover’s body in a car after a good Samaritan drove the dying man to a makeshift police compound.
Prosecutors dropped charges against Travis McCabe, who had been accused of doctoring a police report, after his conviction with McRae and Warren was reversed. He is back in the New Orleans Police Department.
Former police lieutenants Robert Italiano and Dwayne Scheuermann were both acquitted.
The lack of a homicide classification may make murder prosecution impossible, Bowman told NOLA.com The Times-Picayune (http://bit.ly/1s4GAYE). “It’s premature to speculate any further,” he added.
He said Cannizzaro is answering a letter from the local NAACP chapter on behalf of the Glover family and would be “more than willing” to meet with the family.