NEW ORLEANS – Former St. Tammany Coroner Peter Galvan was sentenced to two years of incarceration and fined $5,000 Wednesday for his guilty plea for conspiracy to steal government funds.
Galvan was also ordered to pay at least $193,000 in restitution to his former office.
There were audible sniffles coming from the court in the area where Galvan's wife, along with family friends sat, following the sentence.
Galvan, who had remained silent during the entirety of the investigation and plea, broke his silence in court, giving a contrite statement.
“I apologize to the people who elected me,” he told the court. “I betrayed their trust and I know that I can’t be forgiven. I ruined my career and my reputation and will never get that back.”
After apologizing to his family, Galvan told the judge, “I am ready to accept the court’s punishment.”
The judge acknowledged Galvan’s remorseful words and numerous letters to the court regarding the case, saying it was the most that have ever been submitted.
For Terry and Laura King, who were the whistle-blowers in the case in 2012, Wednesday’s sentencing was the vindication they’d been waiting for.
“Good, happy, satisfied… It’s a longer sentence than we had anticipated. It’s unfortunate for him, but it is the crime he committed.”
Galvan had little to say after the sentencing, but Terry King said he hoped Galvan returns to the courthouse with a lengthy and scathing legislative audit in the hands of the state attorney general.
“I certainly hope they do, because that is really where the majority of the charges are against Peter Galvan,” he said. “And, not just Peter Galvan, but others in his office need to be charged as well.”
Galvan could have received up to five years in prison, but the deal he cut with the government lowered that potential to between 18 and 24 months.
Ultimately, the federal judge went with the strictest sentence that could be given out for receiving more than $100,000 of improper sick and vacation leave along with more than $30,000 in personal purchases with office funds and coroner credit cards.
Galvan starts his sentence on April 11. His attorney requested that he be placed in a prison as close to New Orleans as possible and the judge agreed to consider that request. The fine and restitution are due immediately, although the restitution amount will likely increase significantly during a March reassessment hearing.