Report into St. Tammany Coroner's Office could lead to state charges

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 22, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 6:05 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

COVINGTON, La. -- Former St. Tammany Coroner Peter Galvan may have his hands full in federal court with a conspiracy to commit theft charge pending.

But former St. Tammany District Attorney Marion Farmer says Monday's lengthy legislative auditor's report into the coroner's office operations during Galvan's tenure could prove to be the makings of another criminal case.

"It brings out numerous potential legal problems for Mr. Galvan,” said Farmer, “A number of them are potential state charges ranging from very minor matters to very serious matters."

In addition to the main issues of the federal case, which are the questionable sick and vacation leave payouts, as well as the medical care contract for the Slidell Jail, the report details thousands of dollars spent on expensive dinners, office and election parties and gas and equipment for Galvan's personal boat and plane.

Those issues, and several others, are identified in the report as possible violations of state law and Farmer doesn't think they'll go away just because the feds filed their case first.

As for who could bring those state charges, the St. Tammany District Attorney's Office can't because of the numerous cases that they work with the coroner's office on. That leaves the Louisiana Attorney General's Office with the job. That agency tells us they cannot comment on the status into Galvan or the coroner's office.

"The investigators can take this work that's been done by the legislative auditor. They can probably also obtain, after the conclusion of the federal case, which I think is going to happen pretty quickly, they can probably obtain from the U.S. Attorney's Office information."

And since half of the report's allegations describe employees being involved in the questionable activity, Galvan may not be the only one in trouble.

"If other employees of his participated and knew that wrong things were being done, improper things, then I think probably the attorney general would pursue charges against them," said Farmer.

The Legislative Auditor's Office says it forwarded its findings to the Attorney General's Office and the Ethics Board since both state and ethics laws were cited.

Galvan pleaded not guilty last week to the federal conspiracy charge lodged against him in a bill of information. He is expected to change that plea Wednesday afternoon.

 

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