MANDEVILLE, La. -- A woman who used to work for St. Tammany Parish Hospital said she was replaced by the brother of St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed while she was out on medical leave this year, who worked full-time hours and received higher pay.
'I worked in the mailroom print shop under human resources,' Dennis said in an interview at her Folsom home.
62-year-old Fayette Dennis proudly showed off the certificates she received for 30 and 35 years of service to St Tammany Parish Hospital. In fact, Dennis worked there almost 40 years.
Until 2011, Dennis worked full time in the mail room of the hospital as a clerk. That's when the hospital cut back her hours, causing her to lose benefits, including health coverage for her disabled son and ailing husband.
'I was working 20 hours a week for five days,' she said.
Late last year, Dennis had to have knee replacement surgery. While she was in the hospital, another employee told her Richard Reed had been doing her job.
'It was Richard Reed who took it. He's the brother of Walter Reed the DA. That was surprising to me because Richard had never been in the mail room and I had trained another man to take my place,' she said.
Richard Reed is the brother of embattled St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed.
Walter Reed has been the subject of past Eyewitness Investigations for his partnership with a convicted felon in a gold buying business and for a questionable property tax break on his former Abita Lakes Estates home.
Walter Reed was being paid by St. Tammany Parish Hospital for 20 years. His financial disclosure forms from 2008 to the present show he made $30,000 a year from the hospital, but his duties are unclear.
Reed resigned from that position last month.
That's where questions about his brother's employment come in.
Dennis said she made $12.50 an hour up until the time of her retirement earlier this year.
She had been part-time with no benefits since 2011. Richard Reed was working full time, making $18 an hour. That's according to response to a public records request made by our partners at the New Orleans Advocate.
'He was working full time. He worked eight hours, where I was working four hours. But the three and a half months I was out, he had an eight-hour job,' Dennis said.
Richard had been working in full-time positions at the hospital since September 2002 when he was hired as a community bereavement coordinator. During that time, he has also worked at two Northshore funeral homes. Richard Reed resigned from his position at the hospital on June 27, 2014.
Dennis said she feels like the hospital cut back her hours because she complained about her husband's medical treatment after his numerous back surgeries, not to accommodate a new position for Richard Reed.
However, Dennis said she does feel like Reed got a better deal, with him making higher pay and getting to work with other hospital departments to keep his hours full-time.
'I feel really sad. I feel hurt. And I feel politics played a lot to what happened to me at the hospital,' she said.
The hospital said in a statement Tuesday that Reed's assignment to Dennis' position was temporary and that Dennis was offered the opportunity to return to her job when cleared by her doctor in April.
Dennis said persistent pain and problems with her surgery led her to make the decision to retire instead.
A spokesman for Reed send us this written statement from Walter Reed:
'I love my family with all my heart. As a public official, I can accept that certain individuals, even convicted criminals, would attack me and the media would cover it. However, the personal attacks and attempts at destroying the lives of my family are abhorrent. An example of this is the media treatment of my brother, Richard Reed.
'The reality is that I was not aware of any controversy regarding his work and certainly did not attempt to influence any personnel decisions by the hospital. There is no evidence to the contrary despite media attempts to insinuate otherwise.
'While Richard, in light of the media's attempts to vilify him, has chosen to retire to avoid distractions to St. Tammany Parish Hospital, he deserves better from the media than being singled out for merely being my brother.