By on October 8, 2010

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s investigation of the Jefferson Parish payroll wrapped up Wednesday, revealing that the parish’s red light camera program was at the center of a scandal that drew the interest of federal investigators. Auditors concluded that former parish President Aaron Broussard and former parish attorney Tom Wilkinson likely violated payroll fraud statutes.

“We have audited certain transactions of the Jefferson Parish Government… to determine the propriety of certain financial transactions,” Legislative Auditor Daryl G. Purpera explained.

Steve Mortillaro was hired on March 2008 as a part-time assistant parish attorney and was to be the traffic camera hearing officer. Broussard assigned him to defense work on a traffic camera lawsuit, but there is no evidence that he actually did any work at all. Mortillaro still pocketed $23,213 in public money.

“Because Mr. Mortillaro could not provide any documentation of his work for the parish, he may have been paid for work he did not perform,” the audit stated.

Mortillaro denies having done anything wrong.

“I have spent much time researching and studying the parish laws relative to the red light cameras ordinance, preparing myself for the eventual call to become a hearing officer,” Mortillaro wrote in a March 3 letter to parish President Steve Theriot.

Improprieties in the red light camera program drew the interest of federal authorities. On January 26, Jim Letten, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, ordered the parish to preserve all of its records as part of a federal criminal grand jury investigation.

Interim Parish President Stephen Theriot suspended the red light camera program after documents revealed that Redflex paid 3.2 percent of its revenue from ticket proceeds to lobbyist Bryan Wagner, a former New Orleans city councilman, who shared the funds with the wife of District Judge Robert Murphy. Wagner was set to earn an estimated $90,000 a year from his cut of the photo tickets. Jay Morris Specter, 55, the lobbyist who hired Wagner on behalf of Redflex, is scheduled for release from an Atlanta halfway house on October 21 after having serving time for fraud at Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution in South Carolina.


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3 Comments on “Louisiana: Parish Red Light Camera Program Caught in Bogus Billing Scandal...”

  • avatar

    LOL. "Office of Sheriff AND tax collector". Well, isn’t that conveeeeninet!

  • avatar

    When the red light cameras come to town, the largest impact does not seem to be an increase in intersection safety. It oft times appears to be the increase in waste and fraud.

  • avatar

    The whole camera industry is crooked up – but not so much by the scamera companies. The crookedness mainly comes from our local politicians and bureaucrats, who are “protected.”
    An article (”Special License Plates Shield Officials from Traffic Tickets”) said that in California there are nearly a million PRIVATE vehicles having ‘confidential’ license plate numbers that are protected from easy look up, thus are effectively invisible to agencies attempting to process toll and red light camera violations. Such “protected plate” lists exist in many states, and likely are bloated, like California’s. (In CA the list includes local politicians, bureaucrats, retired cops, many other govt. employees, and their families and adult children! Plus such oddities as museum guards and veterinarians.) In each state a reporter (or a citizen watchdog) should investigate to see who, and how many, are on that state’s list.
    Until August, there was a bill (AB 2097) in the Calif. legislature to change things so that the protected guys would receive the tickets they earn. But the politicians killed it.
    I urge everyone, in every state, to call their legislators, their media, and their AAA about this. Otherwise, the bureaucrats and politicians will keep laughing at us as we pay our fines.

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