NEW ORLEANS - A police commander and the city’s former director of Public Works both violated policies related to the city’s red light traffic camera program, according to a new report released this afternoon by the city’s Inspector General.
The report confirms much of what was already known. It notes that NOPD Commander Edwin Hosli formed a corporation to run the off-duty paid detail for the city’s camera ticket program. Also, the former Public Works Director Robert Mendoza improperly expanded a contract related to the same program. Mayor Mitch Landrieu fired Mendoza in August 2011.
Hosli had been under investigation and was reinstated to full duty last month after federal and local investigations ended without charges. Though charges weren’t filed, an investigation by the city’s inspector general and the FBI determined that Hosli and four other officers likely overbilled the city, a move considered “potentially fraudulent.” The latest inspector general report does not mention the alleged overbilling.
Hosli was commander of the 8th District in the French Quarter when it came to light that he had formed a company called Anytime Solutions that paid New Orleans police officers to review tickets as a subcontractor for the city's red light camera vendor. Hosli was said to be a close friend of Superintendent Ronal Serpas -- among those his firm employed were Serpas' driver and his son in law. Hosli had already been suspended for the violation in August 2011.
Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux’s office opened an investigation in May 2011. City employees told the office that Mendoza tried getting on-duty NOPD officers to review the camera tickets. Mendoza said both Chiefs Warren Riley and Ronal Serpas said they could not spare any officers. Mendoza violated procedures by expanding the camera ticket contract and running it through a paid off-duty detail, the report noted. The report also said that Serpas and Deputy Chief Stephanie Landry suggested the city run the details through the private, non-profit New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation Serpas denied that steered the lucrative detail to Hosli. “I didn’t tell people who to hire for details,” Serpas said, according to the report. Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook, the head of the internal affairs unit, said her office would investigate officers who formed corporations to run details, but she noted that she heard Hosli formed his company at the request of Affiliated Computer Services, the company tasked with collecting traffic ticket fees. The motivation was allegedly to streamline the payment process.