Breaking News
More () »

Orleans sheriff getting rid of 4 top assistants

According to multiple sources, Sheriff Hutson summoned at least four top assistants into her office and gave them until Monday to resign or get fired.

NEW ORLEANS — Heads are rolling at the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, with four high-ranking employees being told they are out of a job amid long-standing turmoil inside the office, according to multiple sources inside and outside the sheriff’s office.

Some of those contentious issues were uncovered in a series of stories by WWL-TV over high-end hotel rooms booked for deputies during Carnival, as well as the sudden and surprise private donation from a dog training company to pay for the rooms.

According to the sources, Sheriff Susan Hutson summoned at least four top assistants into her office Friday and gave them until Monday to resign or get fired.

While the sheriff’s office said no information on the shakeup would be available until next week, the sources said four key people are out:

  • Kristen Morales, Assistant sheriff in charge of internal affairs and technology.
  • Graham Bosworth, Chief Legal Counsel
  • Pearlina Thomas, Assistant Sheriff for Governance and Administration
  • David Trautenberg, Chief Financial Officer.

These top assistants are key members of Hutson’s inner circle, all of them except Trautenberg among Hutson’s initial appointees upon taking office in May 2022.

According to insiders, friction among the top assistants was constant at the office, and attempts by Huston and others to mediate the disputes and ongoing strife were largely unsuccessful.

The most recent blow-up revolved around high-end hotel rooms booked by the sheriff for 13 top deputies, including Morales, as they helped NOPD with Carnival parade security.

In that dispute, revealed exclusively by WWL-TV through internal emails, Trautenberg opposed booking any rooms for deputies, but he was overruled.

Trautenberg voiced his opposition as far back as Feb. 10, just before that first weekend of Carnival parades, during which rooms were booked for two top commanders at the Sheraton and Marriott.

If “you are an OPSO employee you are not eligible to have a paid hotel room,” Trautenberg wrote in an email. “We have mattresses we can get from the warehouse.” In a later email he specified that the mattresses could be used by employees to sleep at the office “similar to hurricane protocol.”

Trautenberg’s directive was not followed by Hutson.

The sheriff not only approved rooms for the first weekend of Carnival but for 13 additional rooms at the Omni Royal Orleans – some for eight days and nights – ending on Fat Tuesday. Hutson later defended her decision, saying she didn’t want her deputies driving home late after working long hours.

After Mardi Gras, Trautenberg again emailed the top brass on March 5 as he was preparing to ask the city for reimbursement for some of the sheriff’s office Carnival expenses. One of his concerns was an accounting of who stayed in the rooms.

“We also have an obligation to know if the employees represented as requiring rooms actually were the individuals who then checked in,” Trautenberg wrote. “This is a normal and customary after-the-fact audit function.”

Instead of an answer, he got a blistering response from Assistant Sheriff Laura Veazey, who wrote, “This seems personal and it is frankly creeping me out. Your obsession with where I slept during Mardi Gras including offers to bring me a mattress while yelling expletives at me is bothersome and borders on harassment.”

Trautenberg was not the only high-ranking member of the sheriff's staff to raise concerns. In another March 5 email, the sheriff's legal counsel Graham Bosworth defended the CFO's inquiries about the rooms, emphasizing the need for transparency when using public funds.

“David is correct,” Bosworth wrote, “these are public funds that were used, and transparency is required by law.”

More controversy ensued just hours after Hutson defended the lodging expenses as “money well spent” with her announcement that the nearly $20,000 cost would be paid by a private donor, LAK9, a police dog training company in Vermillion Parish.

Before You Leave, Check This Out