Embattled Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni says his sexually explicit texts to a 17-year-old boy last year was a one-time mistake, but sources confirm that Yenni took a lie-detector test almost seven years ago to try to convince the family of his future wife that he had not sent another batch of graphic texts to adults.
Yenni was chief administrative officer of the City of Kenner and was running for mayor in 2010 when he was the victim of an alleged extortion plot. The man running against him, Louis Congemi, had received the explicit texts from his ex-wife, who was the city’s information technology director at the time.
She was forced to resign after she turned over to Congemi printouts of texts Yenni had sent over a city server, using a BlackBerry that taxpayers reimbursed him for.
Congemi allegedly threatened to release the texts if Yenni didn’t drop out of the mayor’s race. After the FBI stepped in, Yenni stayed in the race and won.
WWL-TV has confirmed with three of the eight men who exchanged the texts with Yenni that they were authentic. But the station has also confirmed that Yenni took a lie-detector test to convince the family of his now-wife, Michelle, that he had not been unfaithful.
In an interview with WWL-TV, certified polygraphist Ronnie Lauland acknowledged that he administered a voice-stress analysis test to Yenni at the time, but he declined to share the results.
Kenner city records show that after Yenni was elected mayor, Lauland landed a job with the city as a code inspector. Lauland told WWL-TV he simply responded to an ad on Craigslist, he passed the Civil Service exam and the job was not a quid pro quo for administering the test.
But sources allege that Yenni directed the city’s personnel office to hire Lauland, then a 78-year-old retired hypnotherapist and former New Orleans police officer. Lauland lasted less than a year and a half on the job. He told our partners at The New Orleans Advocate that he ran into Yenni after he was hired in January 2012 and Yenni expressed surprise that Lauland was working for the city.
However, city records indicate that Yenni signed Lauland’s official notice of employment.
Yenni again declined to be interviewed by WWL-TV on Wednesday – the 21st time he has refused or ignored the station’s requests since June 16.
He would not sit down to talk with the station in the four months between WWL-TV’s first request and when the station broke the story Sept. 29 that the FBI was looking into Yenni’s explicit 2015 texts to a teenager. He has continued to avoid interviews with the station since then.
In an interview Yenni granted WVUE-TV this week, the parish president suggested some of what the teen has alleged is false, but wouldn’t give specifics. He did say he “never saw” the teen at a high school function before another person connected them via text, something that directly contradicts one of the teen’s statements to WWL-TV. Previously, Yenni only would say he didn’t physically meet the boy at the event, something the teen never alleged.
He has repeatedly declined to answer when asked if the teen’s allegations that Yenni kissed him and bought him underwear were true.