St. Tammany council calls for resignation of coroner

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wwltv.com

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 11:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 7 at 11:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

ST. TAMMANY, La. -- The St. Tammany Parish Council voted late Thursday for the resignation of Coroner Peter Galvan.

A source tells Eyewitness News that a federal subpoena has been issued asking for the coroner’s financial records. The parish council and administration have also put in similar requests.

Fifteen minutes before Thursday’s, meeting, the coroner sent a note saying his attorney recommended he not show up to answer questions because of pending litigation.

Many blamed the allegations of corruption on a change in state law five years ago for giving the coroner free reign to run his office with little oversight.

“This whole thing with the coroner with the arrogance, it’s disgusting,” said Councilman Marty Dean. 

A black eye on St. Tammany Parish – that’s how the investigation into the parish coroner’s office was described inside a packed parish council chamber.

And those were the words from Galavan read out tonight to st. tammany parish officials and residents. The elected official chose to stay away tonight on his lawyer’s advice.

According to the parish council agenda, Galvan was supposed to present his office’s 2011 and 2012 annual reports.  Parish officials say public records requests are also being ignored.

“It is very serious, and that’s why I think you see all the attention tonight,” said St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister. “We have been totally ignored when asking for info we need.”

Media reports claim that the coroner’s office used taxpayer money to buy meals, groceries, retail and sporting goods along with other questionable purchases.  Residents also voiced concerns about salaries at the coroner’s office, ranging between $100,000 and $200,000.

It’s an alleged abuse of power in office that doesn’t sit well with those who call St. Tammany home.

“I think you all need to step down on him,” said Mandeville resident Allen DeArmas. “He’s too chicken to come to this meeting because he knows he’s wrong.”

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