ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. -- Federal corruption charges have been filed against St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Peter Galvan in a bill of information.
He was charged with one count of conspiracy as federal prosecutors detailed hundreds of thousands of dollars Galvan allegedly used to benefit himself personally, from cashing out vacation and sick leave he wasn't owed to using office employees on public time to fulfill his side business deals.
Galvan will resign as the St. Tammany Parish Coroner effective Friday, Oct. 18, according to Parish President Pat Brister.
“Today, we are glad that justice will be served, and the situation brought on by Dr. Galvan will be corrected,” said Pat Brister. “We have worked for months cooperating with the authorities to provide them the information they need to arrive at this decision. This administration and the Parish Council are eager to move forward with financial oversight of a new Coroner’s Office, a coroner’s office that the citizens of this Parish deserve.”
The bill of information says Galvan used taxpayer money for meals, boat accessories and other personal perks. Federal prosecutors contend he collected $111,376 in sick leave he wasn't entitled to, and they allege that St. Tammany Parish lost $50,000 when Galvan used a coroner's office employee, during coroner's hours, to work on his own side deal providing medical services at the Slidell jail. (See the bill of information)
Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith responded to corruption charges against Galvan. "Today's developments in the case against Dr. Galvan have been a long time coming. His contract with the City of Slidell for the provision of medical services at the City Jail is part of the bill of information, and we have already provided investigators all information they have requested. As this matter moves into the justice system -- and out of the Coroner's Office -- I hope we can all move past the scandals and work together for good, honest government."
According to the bill of information, Galvan also used more than $9,000 of coroner's office funds to buy a generator for a personal boat. And the feds alleged that Galvan's meal and personal purchases with the coroner's office debit card totaled nearly $16,000 from 2007 to 2012.
Galvan was charged in a bill of information instead of an indictment because he has been cooperating with authorities and is believed to be prepared to plead guilty to the charges.
Galvan has also been accused of questionable use of credit cards, setting excessive salaries for himself and possibly misusing vehicles and property. Galvan is also the target of a recall effort by citizens in St. Tammany.
He faces up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the conspiracy count and would have to forfeit any ill-gotten property.
The coroner office has seen several high-ranking officials step down in the wake of the scandal. Kim Kelly, the chief financial officer for the coroner, resigned in early June. A month earlier, in early May, Executive Director Melanie Comeaux left the office.