Tempers flare at Senate Commerce Committee hearing entailing alleged problematic acts of doctors, dentists; Martiny to Milkovich: “I’m not quite as stupid as you think I am!”

Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee Chiarman Daniel Martiny, R-Kenner.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee conducted a hearing on Sen. John Milkovich’s occupational licensee “Bill Rights” (SB-187).   Tempers flared on full display during the meeting.  Let’s take a few moments to cover highlights:

First, Sen. Milkovich gave a one-minute synopsis of his bill.  Let’s begin by viewing his brief presentation of his amended bill.


Sen. Milkovich provides a brief overview of his bill.

After providing an overview of his bill, Sen. Milkovich took just two minutes to explain the need for his bill due to alleged abuses by occupational licensing boards and commissions.  Let’s take a look:


Sen. Milkovich explains why he feels his bill is needed in Louisiana.

Milkovich then moved on to focus on the former disciplinary counsel for the Louisiana State Medical Board.  Long-time subscribers of Sound Off Louisiana will recall that, on May 2, 2018, in closing on a similar “Bill of Rights,” Milkovich lambasted the individual in question and, though he admitted he was “not supposed to mention this person’s name,” he nevertheless did so repeatedly on the preceding linked feature.  His commentary led to one audience member, New Orleans attorney Jack Stolier, charging toward Milkovich as he screamed out to him, “you’re a bald face liar.”  While we were not present for the 2018 hearing (nor were we at the hearing last week), we’re told security informed Mr. Stolier in the hallway that, if he was to remain, he would  have to gain control of his anger over the proceedings.

For the hearing of May 8, 2019, Milkovich lambasted the individual arguably even more than at the 2018 hearing.  This time one of Milkovich’s own colleagues openly questioned some of his claims.  Let’s take a look:


Milkovich is openly challenged by Sen. Page Cortez (R-Lafayette) regarding claims he makes about the former disciplinary counsel of the Louisiana State Medical Board.

Sen. Milkovich got under the skin of Sen. Commerce Committee Chairman Dan Martiny so badly that Martiny resorted to openly stating:  “I’m not quite as stupid as you think I am!”  Here’s arguably one of the more intriguing exchanges during the hearing:


Sen. Martiny unloads on Sen. Milkovich.

Sen. Cortez then grilled Milkovich regarding any “shaking down” of doctors by officials of the Medical Board as well as testimony by Dr. Ryan Haygood, a Shreveport dentist, the previous week (May 1, 2019).  During his testimony (which we’ve merged into the video below), Dr. Haygood testified that Dental Board President Jerome Smith, by his act of composing and mailing this letter dated December 20, 2018, “slandered me.”  He further testified:  “This letter right here is full of lies and falsehoods that clearly aren’t reflected by the facts.”  Before the discussion was over, upon Milkovich using features by blogger Tom Aswell to buttress points Milkovich asserted regarding “doctor and dental board corruption,” Chairman Dan Martiny retorted, “He’s not always right either.  I’ve taken him to task on that too.  Just because he says……It doesn’t matter.”


Cortez grills Milkovich on alleged “shakedowns” by Louisiana Medical Board staff and also Dr. Ryan Haygood’s testimony regarding Dental Board President Jerome Smith.

Chairman Martiny didn’t expend all of his frustration on Milkovich.  He saved some for Dr. Eric Cerwanka, a licensee of the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.  Like Haygood, Cerwanka testified the prior week on May 1, 2019 regarding what he alleges are abuses by that Board.  Martiny’s frustration literally boiled over entailing whether him telling Cerwanka, who had only five minutes to testify on May 1, 2019, “you’re welcome to come back next week,” meant just to observe or to testify more.  That became a fairly terse argument between the two of them, and here’s a video of how that cat fight was resolved:


Cerwanka and Martiny spar over whether Cerwanka should be allowed to buttress his May 1, 2019 testimony with more testimony on May 8, 2019.  CLICK HERE to see Dr. Cerwanka’s 5/1/19 testimony.

Apparently, members of the Psychologists Board felt that Dr. Cerwanka portrayed them unfairly on May 1, 2019, and so the Board called a special meeting on May 6, 2019, two days before Milkovich’s bill was scheduled to be heard.  They convened an Executive Session to discuss “inaccurate information disseminated publicly to legislators and to licensees.”  Here’s the agenda for the special May 6, 2019 meeting of the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists:

 

 

The Board opted to refute Dr. Cerwanka’s testimony via testimony by Amy Groves Lowe, who serves as outside counsel for the Psychologists Board and who testified regarding Cerwanka’s testimony as well as general concerns about Milkovich’s bill.  Here’s the video of Groves Lowe’s testimony:


Amy Groves Lowe takes issue with the testimony of Dr. Eric Cerwanka.

Near the end of the meeting, three other doctors (one medical, two dentists) testified regarding their allegations of abuse by either the medical or dental board.  Their testimonies in their entireties follow:


Dr. Vincent Madrigal vents his frustration with the Louisiana Medical Board.  CLICK HERE for background and the Board’s decision entailing Dr. Madrigal.


Dr. Melvin Allen, former dentist from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, vents his frustration entailing the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry.


Dr. Andre’ Bruni, a Baton Rouge dentist, vents his frustration entailing the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry.

Milkovich’s bill was deferred, which effectively kills it for the 2019 Louisiana Legislative Session.  CLICK HERE for the hearing on SB-187 in its entirety.

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Evidence mounts that LSPRB’s Felps committed perjury as “wiped” emails reveal that twice-fired assistant Shelly Sebastian, “doesn’t know jack s— about politics or politicians.”

Louisiana State Police Retirement Board Executive Director Irwin Felps, Jr., who increasingly appears to have committed perjury in his testimony at an April 8, 2019 court hearing entailing litigation by Shelley Sebastian, whom he fired twice (January 7, 2019 and March 27, 2019).

In our most recent feature, we indicated that Louisiana State Police Retirement Board (LSPRB) Executive Director Irwin Felps, Jr., gave “inaccurate testimony” in a courtroom proceeding on April 8, 2019 entailing litigation filed by former assistant Shelley Sebastian, whom Felps fired twice:  January 7, 2019 and March 27, 2019.

We pointed out then that Felps testified that all arrangements for Department of Public Safety (DPS) security for Sebastian’s March 11, 2019 return to work was “oral with none of it being in writing.”  We provided email exchanges between DPS and LSPRB which directly refute Felps’ sworn testimony.

We tried to be kind and give Felps every benefit of the doubt in that, since his email account was not among those in the email chain regarding such security discussions, it was at least possible that he did not have knowledge of the email exchanges.  Under that scenario, it would mean horrendously bad internal communication is applicable among LSPRB staff, but at least it would mean Felps did not commit perjury on the witness stand.

The reality, however, is that statement was not the only falsehood Felps uttered on the witness stand.  When questioned by Sebastian’s attorney, Tammeral Hills, regarding whether Sebastian was a specifically-itemized entry on the February 27, 2019 meeting agenda, Felps responded, “No.  I think it was just labeled personnel matters.”  Well, here’s a copy of the agenda with Sebastian’s entry highlighted:

 

Since Felps signed the agenda, one would think he would know that Sebastian is very clearly an itemized entry on that agenda!

The most damning falsehood uttered by Felps, however, transpired when Hills asked him if any of the computers in the LSPRB office had been “wiped.” Felps flatly stated that no such “wiping” transpired. The following invoice for outside computer services, which Felps signed approving payment of, plainly states for computer technicians to “take all hard drives and destructively wipe them reformat old server and old desktops.”

 

Pay close attention to the date of that invoice: November 13, 2018. Why is that date critical? Because, while it should be noted that the following email may not have been among emails and files recovered from the “non-wiping” by the LSPRB office (29,000 such emails were recovered notwithstanding Felps’ sworn April 8, 2019 testimony that “no files were wiped”) only six days before, Felps and his Assistant Director, Kimberly Gann, openly discussed terminating Administrative Assistant Shelly Sebastian:

Now, Sound Off Louisiana has been provided with an absolute plethora of emails being supplied to Louisiana Civil Service entailing Sebastian’s appeal of her double-termination, and we’re going to provide just a small appetizer of two such emails today:

1.  On Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 17 days before the election for Louisiana Governor, Tausha Facundus, LSPRB Retirement Benefits Analyst, sent Felps and Gann an email linking  this Advocate article which outlined three polls showing then-candidate John Bel Edwards leading then-U. S. Senator David Vitter in the race for Governor, with Facundus point-blank stating that the polls were, “hopefully a good sign.”:

 

2.  The office was clearly strongly supporting Edwards to win the race, and Gann responded back with the following email wherein Sebastian is lambasted for apparently not voting (perhaps she supported Sen. Vitter and was afraid if she admitted as much her termination would be even more expedited?):

When we published our initial feature on Sebastian, we stated that Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns, “found her (Sebastian) to be unbelievably friendly, warm, courteous.” 

Burns founded Sound Off Louisiana mere months before the 2015 election for Governor, and he was quite vocal in his support for Vitter!  Perhaps Sebastian was so kind and courteous to Burns because she shared his enthusiasm for Vitter but knew in light of the preceding email that she had to represent to her cowokers that she simply just “didn’t vote” because apparently admitting one did not support John Bel Edwards’ candidacy for Governor in 2015 likely may have meant a quick career end, her classified status notwithstanding.

At any rate, even if Sebastian simply does opt not to vote, that his HER RIGHT, and contrary to Facundus’ assertion above that Sebastian, “doesn’t know jack s— about politics or politicians,” it is her right to believe, “they are all idiots,” if she so chooses! 

Further, contrary to Gann’s assessment that “not voting” means Sebastian has “no right,” her mere act of refraining from voting does not deny her ANY right (including that of being employed by State government)!  Yes, we at Sound Off Louisiana openly encourage voting, but in the end, that’s an individual’s own prerogative to not vote if he/she so chooses, and the commentary of Gann and Facundus above is absolutely inexcusable.  It is therefore no wonder Felps and Gann sought to have computer hard drives “wiped” of such material, notwithstanding Felps’ sworn testimony that no such “wiping” transpired!

We are FAR, FAR from done entailing the damning emails now in our possession, but as almost all subscribers know by now, this is a video blog, and we always provide a video. 

Well, the video we will provide today is a grand total of one (1) minute.  At the meeting of the LSPRB yesterday, April 24, 2019, the members, led by Felps, lamented the $16,000 in legal fees they’ve incurred entailing Sebastian’s litigation.  Our observation is, “the party is just getting started,” Felps and crew, so here’s our video tribute to the entirety of the LSPRB to close out this feature:


One minute video of LSPRB’s lamenting of $16,000 in legal fees thus far for the Sebastian litigation.

Based on the foregoing material (and we have merely given a very small sampling of the damning emails), the LSPRB appears to unquestionably be “behind the eight ball” regarding its standing for the Sebastian civil service appeal.  As our good friend Rev. Freddie Lee Phillips is fond of saying, “It don’t look good for the home team.”

We’ll have the next installment of this series out soon and, take it to the bank, our video camera will be there to record every second of the appeal hearing of Shelley Sebastian!

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Inaccurate sworn courtroom testimony of LSPRB Executive Director Irwin Felps highlights status update on five LSP-related civil lawsuits.

Lt. Charlie Jones, DPS A-Shift Supervisor and the individual in charge of the assignment of a controversial security detail to the Louisiana State Police Retirement Board (LSPRB) for Shelley Sebastian’s return to work on Monday, March 11, 2019.

Update (April 27, 2019): 

As indicated would almost assuredly be the case entailing Cathy Derbonne v. Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC), the did re-urge its Peremptory Exception for No Cause of Action.  The hearing for oral arguments is set for Monday, July 29, 2019 in Judge William Morvant’s courtroom.

In this special Easter Sunday feature of Sound Off Louisiana, founder Robert Burns provides status updates to five LSP-related civil lawsuits:


Burns provides updates on five (5) LSP-related civil lawsuits.

 

Observations / Relevant Documentation Pertaining to Each Lawsuit:

 

 

Shelley Sebastian v. Louisiana State Police Retirement System:

Shelley Sabastian, terminated from LSPRB on 1/7/19 and 3/27/19.

Original Feature:  3/27/19:  Document Felps said to rely upon to terminate Sebastian asserted “not to exist.”

Sebastian material begins at 1:57 on video above.

Emails which DIRECTLY CONTRADICT the sworn courtroom testimony of LSPRB Executive Director Irwin Felps, Jr., entailing the retaining of security for Sebastian’s return to work being, “all oral with nothing in writing.”:

Sebastian’s final two time sheets for which the LSPRB is steadfastly refusing to provide the codes for the nature of her leave:

LSPRB’s official bogus explanation for why they have no intention of providing the codes applicable for Sebastian on the above time sheets:

As evidence that the preceding statement attributed to “legal counsel” is, we firmly believe, 100 percent bogus, consider our massive request for LSP time sheets, for which no such “privacy issues” were cited by LSP’s legal counsel for ANY of the sixteen (16) troopers for whom time sheets were requested AND provided in FULL.  NONE!!

Furthermore, even Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board Executive Director Sandy Edmonds, who was actively being investigated at varying times by both the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office and the Louisiana Office of Inspector General for alleged payroll fraud based upon time sheets we derived and submitted to them (which disclosed her being “on the clock” when, in reality, she was frequently vacationing out of state), had no such “privacy issues” asserted.  All anyone has to do is click here to see just a small sampling of the accounting for ALL hours applicable for Edmonds to include sick leave used/taken, annual leave used/taken, etc. supplied by Ms. Edmonds, her in-the-dark status of being investigated for alleged payroll fraud notwithstanding!

So, in a nutshell, we firmly believe that the preceding explanation provided by the LSPRB (stated to be uttered by “legal counsel” of whom we make clear we have a pretty low opinion in the preceding video) is, as we stated above, 100 percent bogus!  If anything, the apprehension regarding providing us with the leave codes stems from the fact that the payroll records applicable for the payroll periods have already been processed and pay stubs issued.  Hence, there exists no ability to, as Sebastian’s attorney asserts in the original Writ of Mandamus, go back and alter public records.  In other words, they are now etched in proverbial stone.

Those now-processed codes entailing Sebastian’s final pay likely cause Gann and Felps consternation in that they may well implicate them in payroll fraud given that Sebastian was ready, willing, and able to work, yet Felps allegedly told her to “stay away from the office” from March 13, 2019 through her termination date of March 27, 2019.  Under the theory that the leave taken by Sebastian (entailing one or more time sheets that were neither prepared by her nor signed by her) was sick leave when she was in fact ready, willing, and able to work, one can only conclude that payroll fraud appears to have taken place under such a scenario; furthermore, only Felps and Gann’s names appear anywhere on the time sheets as having any involvement in any such potential payroll fraud.

 

 

Kevin Sulcer v. Louisiana State Police:

LSP Trooper Kevin Sulcer, who asserted that a polygraphist position was posted by LSP in such a manner that only one candidate would emerge qualified (Donny Guitreau) and that he was excluded from being able to post for the position because of his African-American race.

Sound Off Louisiana has not previously published material entailing the Sulcer litigation.

Sulcer material begins at 20:21 on video above.

April 10, 2019 Order granting LSP’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissing Sulcer’s lawsuit with prejudice (i.e. without the right to re-file on the same subject matter).

 

 

Cathy Derbonne v. Louisiana State Police Commission:

Cathy Derbonne, former Executive Director of the Louisiana State Police Commission, who asserts she was “constructivel discharged” for whistleblowing actions on her part.

Original Feature:  1/28/18:  Ronnie Jones:  “Governor’s Office had told Derbonne to ‘shut the f— up.”’

Derbonne material begins at 23:35 on video above.

March 12, 2019 amended pleadings of Cathy Derbonne

 

 

Calvin Braxton v. Louisiana State Trooper’s Association:

Former Louisiana State Police Commission Member Calvin Braxton, who is suing the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association for alleged defamation of his character entailing an investigative report by Fox8’s Lee Zurik.

Original Feature:  5/15/18:  Braxton sues for defamation entailing LSTA’s role in Zurik investigative feature.

Braxton material begins at 27:26 on video above.

The following material is a copy and paste from our  post regarding potential nepotism entailing LSP Col. Reeves’ son, Caleb.

Level 3 Approval:  Jay Oliphant, whom Reeves promoted to Region 3 Majoron June 27, 2017.  Incredibly, and from what we are told by our LSP sources, Oliphant THEN RECEIVED A SECOND PROMOTION (to a highly-prestigious position of Lieutenant Colonel)  as  “deputy Superintendent of Patrol”sometime after June 27, 2017.  Again, as with Vidrine above, we could find no press release or other notice via Google search, but also as evidenced similarly to Vidrine above, Oliphant clearly got the second promotion as evidenced by the previous link.

Lieutenant Colonel Oliphant is perhaps the most intriguing player in the mix.  As long-time Sound Off Louisiana subscribers are aware, it is Oliphant who is the central focus of former Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) member Calvin Braxton’s defamation lawsuit against the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA).  In essence, Braxton alleges that the material contained in a report authored by Oliphant, which can be viewed beginning on page three (3) at this link, constituted an orchestrated attempt by the LSTA to have him removed from the LSPC by having Oliphant produce a “fake” incident report which Braxton claims is completely false.  He also asserts in the lawsuit that the content of that incident report has defamed his character.

Experts with whom we’ve spoken with ties to LSP have told us that the incident report, which is dated June 2, 2016, is highly suspicious as to its credibility because the actual incident transpired on December 5, 2015.  These experts have informed us that it’s unheard of for an LSP Trooper to draft an incident report some 180 days after the incident, and they’ve told us that the norm is for such a report to be prepared within 24 hours of the incident or 48 hours at the latest.

The timing of Oliphant’s report is also suspicious in that Braxton was known to be working with former LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne regarding irregularities at the LSPC.  Most noteworthy among those irregularities were illegal campaign contributions into Gov. Edwards’ (and others) campaigns in 2015 by the LSTA.  A consent agreement was reached with the State Board of Ethics entailing those illegal campaign contributions which called for a $5,000 fine to the LSTA.

What makes the timing of Oliphant’s incident report (June 2, 2016) suspicious is that, only 47 days after it was drafted, Gaming Control Board Chairman Ronnie Jones made a stunning revelation on a conference call for which he did not know Cathy Derbonne was listening in on via speakerphone.  Specifically, Derbonne contends that, on July 19, 2016, Jones stated that Gov. Edwards’ office had told Derbonne to “shut the f— up”about both the campaign contributions and the fact that she contended Gov. Edwards was making illegal appointments to the LSPC by not following Louisiana’s Constitution.  Derbonne’s contention about such illegal appointments actually mirrors the claim Attorney General Jeff Landryrecently lodged against Edwards in litigation Landry has filed entailing an Edwards appointment to the Red River Basin Commission.

Another interesting aspect of Lt. Colonel Oliphant is a Facebook post he made in early 2017 which follows:

Because LSP is itself law enforcement, Oliphant’s social media post seems particularly inappropriate and may have warranted disciplinary action because of the horrendously bad message that it sends to the public.  Specifically, it sends the message that someone citizens have entrusted to be brave when being called upon to help them resolve their insecurities or fears actually openly admits in a wide-open, available-to-the-world Facebook post that he struggles to manage his own insecurities and fears.  His reference to doing “whatever is necessary to protect those who are near and dear to me; including myself” could very easily be interpreted as an LSP Trooper willing to take the law and legal process into his own hands, which is something any LSP Trooper would warn any citizen against doing.

Oliphant also appears to want to be cute in not naming the individual whom he references as instilling such “fear” into him, yet all the while he’s composing that post, and it’s being commented upon and shared, he knows full well that anyone reading the post will know full-well that he’s referencing Braxton.  We should also note that we have been informed by folk with strong LSP ties that making a Facebook post of the nature Oliphant has made is potentially a violation of LSP’s policies and procedures.  If it isn’t, it certainly ought to be because of the horrendously bad message that it sends to the general public.  Sources have told us that Oliphant deleted the Facebook post in short order, but not before the preceding screen-shot was taken and subsequently provided to us for the purpose of this Sound Off Louisiana feature.

Braxton has denied any such focus on Oliphant.  Also, his attorney, Jill Craft, who also represents Derbonne in her LSPC litigation, states in the following interview with WWL in New Orleans, how Oliphant should have handled any such concerns on his part (for which we wholeheartedly agree with Craft’s statements in that regard):


Craft comments on Oliphant’s alleged fears of Braxton and Braxton’s contention that he was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the LSTA designed to have him removed from the LSPC.

It will be up to the jury in Braxton’s civil litigation to decide whether or not it concurs with Braxton’s very emphatic contention that Oliphant’s report is a fabrication and, further, if his name and reputation have been damaged by the LSTA and/or Oliphant, but we will make the following four observations on the matter:

1.  The matter of the political contributions was (and is) obviously highly sensitive to the LSTA, and that fact has been readily demonstrated by the LSTA’s recent lawsuit against the LSPC seeking to again make such contributions in the 2019 election cycle.

2.  IF (emphasis on the word “IF”) the incident report by Oliphant is indeed a fabrication, then THAT would explain why Edwards sat on the report for over a year.  Fox8’s Lee Zurik hammered Edwards hard on that fact.  Either way, the optics look horrible for Edwards.  Only two possibilities exist:  1) the incident report is authentic, in which case Edwards looks horrible for sitting on it for a year and taking no action until Zurik exposed its existence in a very public manner; or 2) the report is a fabrication, in which case Edwards appears complicit in the effort to sandbag Braxton by sitting on the report unless and until it was needed to oust Braxton from the LSPC.

3.  When we made a public records request of the Edwards administration for a signed resignation letter from Calvin Braxton, his office could provide us with nothing more than this press release, which had been widely distributed through Gov. Edwards’ internal email distribution system.

4.  IF (and again we emphasize “IF”) the report is a fabrication as Braxton alleges, that would mean that LSP has gotten corrupt beyond comprehension in that:  A) the LSTA could deploy a puppet (in this case, Jay Oliphant) to remove someone on the LSPC whom they deem to be adverse to their own interests; and B) that puppet would thereafter be rewarded for his role in the ouster via two lightening-fast promotions, the most recent of which is to a very highly prestigious position of Lt. Colonel, for which there are only four such appointments of that rank.  If that scenario is indeed what has transpired, then LSP can only be described as little short of a Mafia operation!  Further, the public’s trust will be almost impossible to restore for an agency that is that corrupt short of a massive overhaul led by someone from the outside who has no prior LSP connections, and Reeves wouldn’t remotely qualify for meeting that criterion!

Was Reeves’ rapid-fire promotions of Oliphant a “reward” to Oliphant for his alleged role in assisting with an alleged plot to oust Braxton?  We do not know, but Col. Reeves is invited to appear on camera to respond to any and all aspects of this investigative report to dispel any notions of nepotism, a continuation of the Edmonson sleaze factor, or anything else for which he’d like to provide commentary.

 

 

Louisiana State Trooper’s Association v. Louisiana State Police Commission:

Louisiana State Trooper’s Association President (and member of the Louisiana State Police Retirement Board) James O’Quinn.

Original Feature:  10/5/18:  LSTA asserts LSPC “violating our constitutional right.”

LSTA material begins at 31:05 on video above.

April 9, 2019 dilatory exception filed by Louisiana State Police Commission

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