Louisiana news briefs
Toddler left in hot car; mom arrested
HOUMA (AP) — Police say a 27-year-old Larose mother has been arrested after she left her toddler alone inside a locked car.
Houma Police Chief Todd Duplantis said Cara Dubois left her 21-month-old son in the car about noon Monday outside a grocery store.
Duplantis said a passer-by spotted the child and alerted authorities. He says Dubois emerged from the store about the same time and unlocked the car.
The chief says Dubois told officers that she left the child inside the car with the engine running and went inside the store to buy cigarettes and pay a bill. He says officers later determined that the car engine automatically shuts off after sitting idle for 10 minutes.
Dubois was booked with child desertion.
$20M Bayou Lafourche dredging could begin soon
THIBODAUX (AP) — A $20 million project to dredge parts of Bayou Lafourche is expected to begin in early 2015.
Ben Malbrough, Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District executive director, said 16 to 18 months of work could start in January. This is the second $20 million dredging of the bayou in the past four years.
The project aims to increase Mississippi River water flow into the bayou.
“The bayou is our source of local drinking water, and the more constricted it is, the more that source is threatened,” said Hugh Caffery, Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District Board chairman.
In 2011, the Freshwater District completed a dredging project that opened nearly 6 miles of Bayou Lafourche between Donaldsonville and Belle Rose.
Officials say the district is hopeful the second phase will go from Belle Rose to just past the Spur 70 Bridge, but the exact location of the project’s end won’t be determined until construction bids are received.
The district hired civil engineering firm T. Baker Smith of Houma in April to analyze the bayou and determine the most beneficial region to spend the money.
While T. Baker Smith advised the district to pick up where it left off, the firm also looked at dredging the bayou from Thibodaux north.
Money for the project comes from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, which sends revenue from offshore energy production back to the state for restoration projects. The program requires the project be complete by December 2016.
Stone sells Gulf shelf tracts to Talos for $200M
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Stone Energy Corp. of Lafayette is selling some oil and gas properties on the Gulf of Mexico shelf to Talos Energy Offshore LLC of Houston for $200 million cash.
Talos is also taking on about $117 million in estimated future abandonment liabilities, Stone said.
Stone will keep an option for a 50 percent working interest in deep drilling rights. The deal is expected to close in August but effective April 1 of this year.
“The deep joint venture on these assets creates a built in partner and we view this as a win-win transaction for both sides,” Talos President and CEO Tim Duncan said in a Monday news release.
Stone Chairman and CEO David Welch said the sale will let Stone focus on deep water in the Gulf, deep gas on the Gulf coast, and projects in Appalachia. It is keeping two shallow-water fields producing about 216,720 gallons of oil and 35,200 of other products a day.
Talos President and CEO Tim Duncan said his company is getting more diversity and tracts that fit well in its regional seismic database.
State technology work consolidated into new office
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Computer maintenance work across most agencies has been consolidated into one office.
The newly-created Office of Technology Services began operations Tuesday with the start of the new budget year.
Lawmakers signed off on the merger plan, pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, in the recent legislative session.
This year’s budget assumes $25 million in savings from the consolidation. The savings will come from merging software licenses, hardware maintenance agreements and contract services, from increased bulk purchasing of computer products and from cutting vacant jobs.
The new technology services office is under the oversight of Jindal’s Division of Administration. It will have more than 800 state employees.
Higher education and elected officials are excluded from the consolidation.
Hank Williams’ biopic
to be filmed in Shreveport
SHREVEPORT (AP) — Get ready to hear Loki sing.
Tom Hiddleston, best known as Loki, a character from the “The Avengers” film franchise, will star in “I Saw The Light” — a Hank Williams biopic set to begin shooting in Shreveport in October.
Millennium Studios made the announcement Tuesday on its Facebook page.
Written and directed by Marc Abraham, “I Saw the Light” will chronicle Williams’ rise to stardom and the effects of years of substance abuse that ended the performer’s life at age 29. The film is based on a 1994 biography by Colin Escott.
The studio says Hiddleston will do his own singing in the film.
A preliminary release date is set for 2015.
Prosecutors: Ray Nagin deserves harsh sentence
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal prosecutors say former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has shown no remorse for his crimes and lies to investigators and U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan should sentence him harshly.
Nagin, convicted on 20 counts of conspiracy, bribery and fraud, had asked Berrigan to show leniency in the face of federal guidelines that recommend he be sentenced to no less than 20 years in prison.
In a court filing Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Coman said Nagin should do every day of that 20-year sentence.
Nagin’s sentencing is scheduled for July 9.
Officials identify woman found dead in Lafayette
LAFAYETTE (AP) — Lafayette Parish sheriff’s deputies are currently following up on leads in the death of 19-year-old Valerie West, of Duson.
Capt. Craig Stansbury, a sheriff’s office spokesman, says no suspects have been identified in the case, which is being treated as a homicide.
Stansbury says West’s body was found Monday night on the side of the road in Lafayette Parish.
BESE’s Walter Lee
faces ethics charges
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Indicted state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Walter Lee is now facing state ethics charges.
The Board of Ethics alleged in documents made public Tuesday that Lee violated three state conflict of interest laws. The charges involve Lee’s alleged use of his position as DeSoto Parish schools superintendent for personal gain.
Lee was indicted in January by a DeSoto Parish grand jury on felony theft, public contract fraud and malfeasance in office during his tenure as schools chief. He has pleaded not guilty.
In state court, Lee is accused of double billing expenses to the school district and BESE. Other counts allege he personally benefited from the return of a leased vehicle and intentionally performed his duties as superintendent in an unlawful manner.
The allegations against Lee stem from a critical Legislative Auditor’s investigative report.
Lee’s attorney, Taylor Townsend, was in court and could not be reached for immediate comment.
The Ethics Board said Lee personally received $13,801.12 in reimbursement for mileage and hotel-lodging expenses from BESE that DeSoto Parish schools had already paid.
“Mr. Lee did not provide DPSS any reimbursement received from BESE for charges he made to the DPSS issued Fuelman card or the Chase business card,” the board said.
That, the board alleges, violates a state law which bans a public servant from receiving anything of economic value for the performance of his job duties other than the compensation and benefits from the governmental entity to which he is entitled.
The other charge relates to actions by Lee involving a three-year lease for a 2010 Chevrolet Travese with Mansfield Auto World.
Lee canceled the lease 14 months early causing DeSoto schools to pay a $10,653.50 early termination fee, the board said.
“The same day he terminated the three year lease, Mr. Lee personally purchased the same 2010 Chevrolet Traverse for $11,966 from Mansfield Auto World,” the board said. “The value of the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse at the time of the sale to Mr. Lee was approximately $21,000 according to the national vehicle pricing guide, NADA.”
The same day Lee also “acting on behalf” of DeSoto schools entered into a two-year lease for a 2012 Buick Enclave with Mansfield Auto World to replace the 2010 Chevrolet Traverse, the board said.
State law bans a public servant from participating in a transaction involving his governmental entity in which he has a substantial economic interest. State law also prohibits a public servant from soliciting or accepting anything of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person if they know “or reasonably should know” that the person is seeking or had a contractual, business or financial relationship with their agency.
The Ethics Board also filed a charge against Mansfield Auto World.
The cases were submitted to the Ethics Adjudicatory Board to set a hearing date.
Wife dies, husband injured in Amite River accident
KILLIAN (AP) — State wildlife officials say a woman died and her husband injured in a boating accident on the lower Amite River, near Killian in southeast Livingston Parish.
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries spokesman Adam Einck identified the victims as 58-year-old Richard Ledoux and 59-year-old Deborah Ledoux, of Livingston.
Einck said agents responded to the accident at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Einck said investigators suspect the husband was driving the couple’s 17-foot, aluminum shallow-draft boat, possibly searching for their turtle traps in the area, when they hit a tree.
He says the couple, who were not thrown from the boat, both sustained trauma-type injuries. Richard Ledoux was airlifted to a Baton Rouge hospital while the body of Deborah Ledoux was turned over to the Livingston Parish Coroner’s Office.