Louisiana news briefs
Lafourche Parish review finds fault with agency
THIBODAUX (AP) — An internal review of Lafourche Parish’s Community Action Office shows a gross misuse of grant money since 2011.
The office oversees Community Service Block Grant money that’s intended to provide one-time help for residents who have suffered a setback and are seeking emergency help to get back on their feet. Clients apply through Community Action case managers who submit recommendations to the office’s director for approval.
In January, Tommy Lasseigne, the parish legislative internal auditor, and his clerk, Fredia Ruffin, presented a report on the use of grant money from Oct. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2013, that showed 31 instances where contract guidelines weren’t followed.
“It seems to have been a problem in that department beginning in 2011 when there were overpayments made, deposits made to people when they requested assistance,” Parish President Charlotte Randolph said.
Joni Tuck, Community Action director from July 2012 to January, could not be reached for comment. Her position has yet to be filled.
The parish is allowed to pay up to $750 for rent and $450 for emergency hotel stays and utility assistance, but the review showed the one-time assistance was made to multiple repeat clients. Several clients on the list were given money without having to provide required documentation of residency and their situation.
Long, cold winter means scarce, expensive crawfish
HOUMA (AP) — The long, cold winter means crawfish are scarce and expensive.
During cold weather, crawfish stay at the bottom of their ponds or streams, and don’t eat. That means they’re much smaller than usual for this time of year — and they’re not taking the bait in crawfish traps.
Todd Quebedeaux, owner of All Dat Seafood in Houma, said he’s waiting for the price to drop before selling mudbugs again, he said.
Cajun Critters Seafood and Big Al’s Seafood restaurants on Tunnel Boulevard in Houma both were selling boiled crawfish for $7 a pound.
Restaurants usually charge $3 to $4 a pound for boiled crawfish, but the price is nearly $8 at restaurants and markets across the state, according to the Gulf Seafood Institute.
Quebedeaux said live crawfish prices have risen to $3.25 per pound wholesale, so he’d have to charge at least $3.50 to make a profit.
“I have been doing this for 14 years, and these are the worst numbers for price and yields that I’ve ever seen, and I keep very good records,” said Stephen Minvielle, director of the Louisiana Crawfish Research and Promotion Board and the Louisiana Crawfish Farmer’s Association.
Coast Guardsman guilty
in sexual misconduct case
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Coast Guard officials in New Orleans say a petty officer has been convicted and sentenced on charges involving sexual assault and possession of child pornography.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher C. Bush’s court martial was held in Norfolk, Va.
A Coast Guard news release said the 28-year-old Bush was convicted Friday on four violations of a Uniform Code of Military Justice article dealing with rape and sexual assault and one involving child pornography.
The crimes involved a junior Coast Guard woman and a civilian woman. They happened between January 2010 and May 2013 while Bush was stationed at a unit in New Orleans. The Coast Guard said it was not releasing the name of the unit to protect the privacy of the victims.
Barge captain drowns
in a Terrebonne Bayou
HOUMA (AP) — A barge captain from Labadieville drowned after falling from a boat in a remote Terrebonne Parish bayou.
The Terrebonne Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as 54-year-old Arthur Scott Anderson.
The Sheriff’s Office received a call about 1 a.m. Saturday from workers on a barge in Palmetto Bayou, about a mile east of the mouth of the Atchafalaya River in extreme southwestern Terrebonne.
Workers reported that the vessel’s captain had fallen into the water after leaving the barge and getting aboard a smaller boat.
Workers said the boat got stuck in a patch of mud, and Anderson fell out while trying to repair it. The workers told authorities they found Anderson’s body about 10 feet from his boat before authorities arrived.
Hospital won’t have to repay $5M disaster relief loan
CUT OFF (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has waived repayment of a $5 million disaster loan given to Lady of the Sea Hospital in the Lafourche Parish community of Cut Off after Hurricane Katrina.
The provision was a part of the federal 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.
The hurricane struck on Aug. 29, 2005.
2 more to plead guilty
in Desperado’s case
LAFAYETTE (AP) — The last two Desperado’s employees charged in the federal drug and prostitution case have indicated they’ll plead guilty.
Officials say that leaves only strip club owner James Panos and his wife, Jennifer, to stand trial in May on drug distribution and racketeering charges.
Acquila Shanete Latigue and Gerald Cormier said in documents they’ll change the not guilty pleas they made last year. Cormier’s hearing is scheduled for March 20. The date of Latigue’s change of plea has not been determined.
Federal prosecutors allege prolific prostitution and drug distribution was a daily and nightly occurrence at the club, where women danced nude or almost nude.
Federal, state and local agents raided Desperado’s in December 2012 after a months-long undercover investigation, padlocking the doors after a daylight raid.
Deputy faces criminal, administrative sanctions
PORT ALLEN (AP) — A West Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy arrested last week could face additional discipline after he shoved an Addis police officer and threatened another officer who, during a routine traffic stop, pulled over a car containing the deputy’s wife, daughter and her boyfriend.
Maj. Ronald Graham, chief of uniform patrol for the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Wednesday for simple battery and issued a misdemeanor summons after his fiery confrontation with police officers in Brusly.
Col. Richie Johnson said an internal investigation of the incident involving Graham, a 30-year veteran of the force, is under way.
Graham referred all questions about the incident to his attorney, Glynn Delatte.
Delatte, a former law enforcement officer, said it appears everyone overreacted.