ST. TAMMANYPARISH, La. -- Newly-released documents show St Tammany Parish Hospital had a contractual agreement with the St Tammany Parish District Attorney's Office, not District Attorney Walter Reed in his personal capacity as an attorney. Since 2007, Reed has reported $30,000 in income from the hospital on his personal financial disclosure statements filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
St. Tammany Parish Hospital released documents spelling out their contractual agreement with the St. Tammany Parish District Attorney's Office late Friday evening, after weeks of speculation about whether DA Walter Reed was getting paid in his personal capacity as an attorney, or through the district attorney's office.
The body that manages the public hospital, called Service District Number 1, and its board of directors passed a series of resolutions solidifying the relationship between the DA's office and the district for legal services over the years. The most recent, in 2001, said the St Tammany DA's office would serve as 'special counsel' for the district, with a monthly retainer of $2,500, or $30,000 a year paid for the work of either Walter Reed or Assistant District Attorneys in his place.
If the ADAs worked more than 333 hours a year, the DA's office would get paid an additional hourly rate.
Checks for legal services from the hospital, obtained by our partners at the New Orleans Advocate, from 2005 though 2014 were written to 'Reed, Walter' at 701 N. Columbia Street, the address of the parish courthouse, where the DA's office is located. Before 2007, the checks were endorsed with a stamp that read, 'For Deposit/Walter P. Reed/District Attorney.' After that some were endorsed with a plain 'For Deposit Only' stamp, others with a written signature.
In response to Friday's document release, Reed spokesman, Morgan Stewart, said the Chairman of the hospital district in the mid-90's asked Reed to do the work personally, instead of having Assistant District Attorneys perform the duties.
'The new board's view that Mr. Reed's participation was in his official capacity as District Attorney created an obvious misunderstanding and distraction to the hospital management. When this misunderstanding became apparent, it became the sole reason why Mr. Reed withdrew from the arrangement. He did not resign due to misconduct of any kind,' Stewart said in the prepared statement released late Friday.
Reed resigned his position with the hospital earlier this year, saying he had held the post as outside counsel for 20 years.
The documents released late Friday evening never indicated a business relationship with Walter Reed's private law practice, just the agreement with the district attorney's office.
Reed's spokesman indicated in his statement that the hospital is trying to 'recreate' documentation from twenty years ago, and that Reed had also asked for it.
'That one of these key 'resolutions' was in a lawyer's file outside of the hospital records department calls into question the completeness of the documentation from the hospital,' Stewart said in the statement.
Last month, the FBI subpoenaed the Assistant District Attorney who has attended hospital district meetings in recent months when Reed couldn't personally attend, Leo Hemelt. The hospital wouldn't confirm whether they have received subpoenas related to Reed and his position with the district. The letter sent out Friday by a public relations firm hired by the hospital said, 'Various news reports have advanced the misconception that an absence of contract or an invoice equals the absence of an appropriate professional services legal arrangement between our hospital and the District Attorney's office. We have not shared this information earlier because we do not want to impede an ongoing investigation.'
The letter says they felt 'compelled' to release it now as a result of continued requests for information and concerns from the public.
Just this week, a WWL-TV investigation looked at the employment of Reed's brother, Richard as a bereavement coordinator and a mail clerk. A woman who previously held the mail clerk job said she received lower pay and was forced to work part-time hours, unlike Walter Reed's brother when he held the position.
A day after our report, the hospital said they had offered the clerk, Fayette Dennis, the opportunity to work in multiple departments to keep her hours full-time when they cut her mail room position to part-time, something Dennis disputed.