State Police Commission’s Riecke voices “anger” at Legislature over funding but ignores his own 2017 headstrong charge to terminate its Executive Director costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for legal defense costs.

Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) member Jared Riecke.

Well, when we presented the Woodward “shut up, or I’ll hold you in contempt” recent feature, we indicated that we’d certainly cover Woodward’s August 12, 2021 appeal of alleged improper conduct during a DWI arrest transpiring on March 24, 2021.  We certainly would have done that; however, for the second time in the last three months, the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) simply cancelled the meeting.  We’ll certainly cover that appeal assuming it’s still on for the September meeting and on the assumption that the LSPC doesn’t make it three-out-of-four on cancellations!

Let us now focus on yet another interesting matter covered at the July 8, 2021 LSPC meeting, which Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns missed due to the imminent passing of his mother.

At that meeting, LSPC member Jared Riecke expressed “anger” at members of the Louisiana Legislature for failing to adequately fund the LSPC in order for the agency “to fulfill our obligations.”  Let’s take a couple of minutes to listen to Riecke and LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr. cry like little babies, shall we?  [Note:  No video due to Burns’ absence]:

7/9/21 LSPC meeting during which Commissioners Jared Riecke and Eulis Simien, Jr. lament the Louisiana Legislature’s failure to fund their budget increase requests.

Why do we at Sound Off Louisiana find both Simien and Riecke’s complaints of the Legislature to be unbelievably galling?  The answer is simple; however, let us first provide a history to some of our newer subscribers.

Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns had never attended an LSPC meeting in his life until the meeting of January 12, 2017.  He was asked to attend that meeting and videotape it because there were two interesting items on that agenda.  Specifically:

5. Executive session for discussion of professional competence of Director of State Police Commission.

6. Consideration of whether employment of the Director of State Police Commission should be continued or terminated.

In a nutshell, four of the seven  LSPC Members were hell-bent to terminate its then-Executive Director, Cathy Derbonne.  The only members of the LSPC from those days who are still serving today and who actively engaged in that despicable episode are Jared Riecke and Eulis Simien, Jr.

We can’t stress enough that this meeting was 4 1/2 years ago.  Mike Edmonson was sill Colonel, and LSP basically did whatever it wanted to do!  The LSPC served as nothing more than a lapdog for Edmonson and the Louisiana State Trooper’s Association (LSTA).  Anybody causing the slightest of problems (e.g. Cathy Derbonne or former Commissioner Calvin Braxton) was easily flushable via the LSTA’s extensive and dominating influence on LSP matters.

So, Cathy Debronne was the Executive Director being referenced on the above agenda.  How did she end up under the microscope?  Well, she did as she asserts she had been instructed to do by Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne and reported improper campaign contributions by three (3) LSPC members who subsequently had to resign from the LSPC as a result of those contributions.  One of those three commissioners was Franklin Kyle, who is friends with Jared Riecke, with both serving on the Board of Directors at American Bancshares, holding company for American Bank and Trust, Covington, Louisiana.

The connection is tight between Kyle and Riecke, and it was Riecke who replaced Kyle on the LSPC.  That fact prompted then-LSPC member Lloyd Grafton’s act of openly accusing Riecke of coming onto the LSPC with “an agenda” to terminate Derbonne because of her actions leading to Kyle having to resign from the LSPC.

Let’s take a quick look at just how strong the Riecke family ties to American Bankshares are, all of which are derived from the linked Federal Reserve report above listing owners of 5% or more of the holding company’s stock:

Julian J. Rodrigue, Jr. (as trustee for Karen Smith Riecke inter vivos trust)   770,000 shares representing 27.31% of the shares outstanding;

Karen Smith Riecke   581,240 shares representing 20.62% of the shares outstanding;

Riecke and Associates   223,877 shares representing 7.94% of the shares outstanding.

Jared Riecke also is listed as directly owning approximately 27,689 shares, representing approximately 0.98% of the shares outstanding.  Raymond R. Riecke (relationship to Jared unknown), who also is reported on the 2017 report linked above as a member of the board of directors, is also listed as owning approximately  1,212 shares, representing 0.043% of the shares outstanding.  Finally, Edward T. Riecke (relationship to Jared unknown) is also listed as owning approximately 60,622 shares, representing approximately 2.15% of the shares outstanding.  Edward Riecke is  also reported as Chairman of the Board of the bank holding company.

For his part, Kyle, a Mandeville engineer and business owner, is listed as a board member owning approximately 36,994 shares, representing approximately 1.31% of the shares outstanding.

Interestingly enough, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards, brother of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, also is listed as a member of the bank holding company’s board of directors.

Derbonne also reported other alleged wrongdoing such as the LSTA deploying its then-Executive Director, David Young, to serve as a straw donor to illegally funnel money into the 2015 campaign of then-candidate John Bel Edwards and others (the LSTA was fined $5,000 for making those donations), but it is likely the reporting of Kyle that was Derbonne’s downfall.  Why?  Because, as a former FDIC bank examiner, the one thing Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns can attest to is that members of any bank’s board of directors have egos that won’t fit in the Caesars Superdome.  Kyle’s resignation from the LSPC, especially given the manner in which that resignation came about, certainly lends credence to then-LSPC member Lloyd Grafton’s contention that Riecke, as Kyle’s friend and colleague on American Bancshares’ Board of Directors, likely did in fact join the LSPC with his top priority being “an agenda” to ensure Derbonne was terminated as quickly as possible.  If so, he certainly succeeded in fulfilling that top-priority personal agenda item.

So, at that infamous January 12, 2017 LSPC meeting, Riecke and Simien (along with the other LSPC members serving at the time, all of whom operated in secret in an executive session) allegedly strong-armed Derbonne into resigning to spare her a “public humiliation” which would transpire subsequently in the meeting out in the open if she refused to resign.  Derbonne therefore caved and signed a hastily-drafted resignation letter.

At a subsequent LSPC meeting on February 22, 2017, in an extremely rare move, Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns chose to directly address the LSPC entailing what he believed would be an imminent waste of a fortune in legal fees entailing an obvious whistleblower lawsuit that would seem almost certain to be filed by Derbonne.  Burns stressed that, “as a taxpayer,” he would far prefer the money be spent for actual services performed by employees of the LSPC rather than wasted on attorney fees defending a lawsuit.

At that point, the LSPC had not hired a replacement for Derbonne, and Burns encouraged the LSPC members to offer the job back to Derbonne or at least offer her a similar position so that the LSPC (and taxpayers) would not end up spending a massive amount on legal fees, not to mention the liability any potential judgment Derbonne may ultimately obtain may tally.

We think its worth the time to watch Burns’ very rare instance of directly confronting the LSPC members on what had transpired at the prior meeting and where he believed the LSPC stood on soon-anticipated legal expenditures:

2/22/17:  Sound Off Louisiana’s Burns seeks to have the LSPC conserve taxpayer resources by avoiding expensive legal fees entailing the actions of Riecke, Simien, and other LSPC members at the prior LSPC meeting regarding strong-arming a resignation letter out of its Executive Director, Cathy Derbonne.

Of course, Simien (who voted to accept Derbonne’s strong-armed resignation letter) and Riecke (who’d spearheaded the effort for Derbonne’s ouster with him being mainly motivated by her action entailing Kyle as outlined above), once he heard the roll call transpiring and heard Simien vote “yes,” on accepting Derbonne’s resignation (Riecke’s name was called last), quickly realized that his vote was no longer needed to obtain the four required votes, so he actually had the unmitigated gall to vote “no.” In fact, several people unfamiliar with Riecke or his slime ball tactics, contacted Burns later and stated that, “at least he (Riecke) was in her corner!”  Burns had to educate such viewers on a one-on-one basis as to just exactly what had gone down in that vote!  All of that notwithstanding, Simien still wants to now tout the high level of “integrity” on the LSPC!  Seriously?

So, what happened as time passed?  Well, as Burns indicated would be the case, on January 8, 2018, Derbonne filed a whistleblower lawsuit, even alleging in it that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office, “had told her to shut the f— up!”  The LSPC then began expending taxpayer funds to defend the very lawsuit Burns told them in the video above was inevitable and which could have easily been prevented!

The LSPC first spent precious taxpayer funds to file a Peremptory Exception of No Cause of Action.  The Commission got a temporary victory when 19th JDC District Judge William Morvant ruled that, relying on a New Iberia case he cited, a Louisiana State employee does not have whistleblower protection if reporting wrongdoing is part of the employee’s regularly-assigned duties.  He indicated that reporting such wrongdoing was among Derbonne’s regularly-assigned duties, and she therefore had no protection under Louisiana’s whistleblower’s statutes, thus prompting him to grant the LSPC’s exception.

It’s very expensive to appeal any district court decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but that’s what Derbonne did.  Hence, the LSPC had to expend funds to prepare a brief and arguments before the First Circuit.  Now the legal bills are mounting up big time!

On October 14, 2020, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Morvant’s ruling, thus costing the LSPC not only its own attorney fees and costs for the appeal but also Derbonne’s court costs associated with her appeal.

Still not content to cut its attorney fee losses, the LSPC appealed the First Circuit ruling to the Louisiana Supreme Court.  That entailed more legal fees to apply for the Writ.

On February 17, 2021, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied LSPC’s Writ.  From the previous link:

2020-C-01323 CATHY DERBONNE VS. STATE POLICE COMMISSION (Parish of East Baton Rouge)
Hughes, J., would grant and docket.
McCallum, J., would grant and docket.

On the initial audio file above entailing Riecke slamming Louisiana legislators for not granting the funding that he admits he appeared before them to “beg for,” it’s possible the Legislators may have assessed Riecke’s credibility not only for he and Simien’s propensity to flush money right down the toilet entailing massive legal fees from their supreme arrogance of seeking to fire Derbonne (and settling for a strong-armed resignation), but they may have also taken into account this Metropolitan Crime Commission post on Riecke, which was itself derived from Louisiana Voice blogger Tom Aswell.  From the feature:

“Should a person of interest in a murder case who refuses to cooperate with authorities and who refuses to take phone calls from investigators be allowed to serve as a member of the Louisiana State Police Commission?”

The question, apparently directed at State Police Commission member Jared Caruso-Riecke, a St. Tammany Parish resident, sent an excited murmur through the crowd and sent panelists fumbling for a diplomatic, if uncomfortable response.

Caruso-Riecke’s business partner Bruce Cucchiara was gunned down in the parking lot of a New Orleans East apartment complex on April 24, 2012.

The murder remains unsolved.

Cucchiara worked for the RIECKE FAMILY in Covington and at one time ran the Southeastern Louisiana Water & Sewer Co., before it was purchased by the St. Tammany Parish government in a controversial 2010 DEAL.

Caruso-Riecke had a LIFE INSURANCE POLICIY on Cucchiara with New York Life totaling some $5 million, his children said.

Cucchiara also has signed a promissory note as security on some real estate property to Caruso-Riecke only 20 days before he was killed.

CAITLIN PICOU, Cucchiara’s daughter, said Caruso-Riecke gave an initial statement to investigators but since then, the detective “has reached out to him but he declined to speak. They’ve reached out to his lawyer, as well, and he’s declined as well.”

“This (Cucchiara) was his best friend and he (Caruso-Riecke) won’t cooperate with investigators,” Chris Cucchiara said.

But, he added, Caruso-Riecke told him and Caitlin that he’d deleted some of the elder Cucchiara’s emails in an effort to “clean up” any personal messages.

Picou and her brother, Chris Cucchiara said when police did not clear Caruso-Riecke, thereby freeing the life insurance company to pay the benefit, “he (Caruso-Riecke) filed suit. Chris Cucchiara also said he was told by investigators that they did not want to clear Caruso-Riecke, “but we got a lot of pressure from higher-ups who live on the North Shore (St. Tammany) that we need to release the money.

It’s not clear where such pressure was coming from, but despite investigators’ having not cleared him as being implicated in the murder, Caruso-Riecke SUED New York Life on Aug. 7, 2012 to obtain the benefits of the life insurance policy on his business partner. Inexplicably, he filed his lawsuit in federal court in Baton Rouge instead of New Orleans, which would have normally been the proper venue for a St. Tammany resident.

Regardless, New York Life apparently decided not to fight him and the lawsuit was DISMISSED in Caruso-Riecke’s favor on Oct. 1.

Of course, Riecke was a controversial appointment to the LSPC even ignoring everything above given his past extensive involvement in racing teams bragging of evading radar detection by illegally switching out license plates.

At any rate, Riecke appeals to legislators who “watch or listen to LSPC coverage” (presumably through Sound Off Louisiana since we’re the only media outlet to consistently cover the meetings) to hear his July 8, 2021 commentary and specifically his plea for those legislators to sympathize with the LSPC and provide them with “much needed funding.”

Perhaps those legislators actually have been listening (or most times, watching) all along and, as a result of the forgoing absolute waste of massive amounts of taxpayer resources on the Derbonne litigation (with it being an open question when the LSPC may finally “cry uncle” and opt to settle with Derbonne to stop the bleeding from all those attorney fees), denied Simien’s and Riecke’s request.  If so, perhaps they have deemed Riecke and Simien to simply be piss poor stewards of precious taxpayer funds they’ve appropriated to them and entrusted them with in the past.   If so, we can only assume the legislators, in denying Riecke and Simien’s most recent appeals for more funding, may have been tacitly saying to them both, “Shut the f— up!”

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State Rep. Ted James says it is “not yet” time for Col. Davis to resign based upon assurances from District Attorney Belton, Col. Davis and others that AP article is “not true;” also states he hopes he’s not “proved wrong.”

State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, appearing before the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday, August 9, 2021.

This will be the shortest post in the history of Sound Off Louisiana.  At the Baton Rouge Press Club (BRPC) meeting of Monday, August 9, 2021, State Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge) was asked by Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns about the contents of this AP feature on Ronald Greene.   Burns specifically focused James’ attention to this segment of the feature:

Davis and Cain traveled to District Attorney John Belton’s office in Ruston — more than 200 miles north of Baton Rouge — on May 20 to review the video frame by frame and make the case that the troopers’ actions were justified.

In light of the preceding excerpt from the AP feature, Burns asked James if it was time for Davis to resign.  The entirety of Burns posing the question and James’ response is comprised of a mere 50 seconds.  Hence, between the title of this feature and the video, there’s not much we feel a need to add, so here’s the video:

Rep. James responds to Burns’ question of whether it’s time for LSP Col. Lamar Davis to resign.

CLICK HERE for Rep. James’ presentation in its entirety.

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During hearing for alleged sending of “derogatory tweet about race,” Police Commission Chairman states: “You’ll be held in contempt if you don’t shut up!”

Louisiana State Police Trooper William R. Woodward, III, who was told at the July 8, 2021 Louisiana State Police Commission to “shut up, or you’ll be held in contempt,” by Commission Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr.

On or about January 21, 2020, LSP Trooper Treone Larvadain became the first African-American female to be promoted to Captain in Louisiana State Police (LSP)’s history.  Much fanfare was made about the accomplishment, and perhaps none more so than this WAFB (Channel 9 in Baton Rouge) feature on the accomplishment.

WAFB, on the day after the above feature aired, January 29, 2020, posted to its Facebook page that congratulations were in order.  LSP Trooper William Woodward, III, the same trooper on whom we recently reported entailing his attorney, Michael DuBos,  asserting that LSP Col. Lamar Davis fails miserably to comply with proper investigative procedures, posted this tweet to his personal Twitter account.  Here’s the content of the Tweet:

The first African-American female to ever….Wow, what country in Africa are you from?

Let’s take a minute (literally) to hear LSP sum up the above events:

At the July 8, 2021 LSPC meeting, Larvadain’s accomplishment and Woodward’s Twitter post are conveyed.

Next up, let’s again spend less than a minute to hear LSP outline all of the alleged violations Trooper Woodward committed in posting the above eight-word tweet:

LSP outlines Woodward’s alleged violations.

Next, we believe in permitting the accuser (Larvadain in this case) to be able to air his or her views in full with no editing, so for those willing to invest the time, here’s a 15-minute audio of Larvadain on the witness stand espousing on her feelings about the Twitter post and why she feels it was inappropriate for Woodward to have posted:

Larvadain explains why she took offense to Woodard’s post and the rationale for why she filed the complaint against him.

At the 3:52 mark of the above audio clip, Larvadain seems to desire to point out the fact that Woodward is employed at Troop F, which has gained national attention entailing the alleged use of excessive force during arrests of African-American individuals.

Nevertheless, when Woodward, who represented himself, questioned Larvadain entailing why she felt the need to emphasize that Troop is the one at which he is employed, Larvadain denied having stated that Woodward worked at Troop F.

When Woodward pointed out that she had in fact stated that he worked at Troop F, Larvadain said that, if she did state the troop at which Woodward is employed, it was meant as nothing more than being informative of which LSP Troop Woodward is employed and that nothing further should be read into her disclosure of that fact.

The next witness called was Bryon Sam, who performed an EEOC review of Woodward’s tweet, and Woodward sought to hone in on the fact that LSP failed to conform to the timeframes for conducting an investigation on the matter.

LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr., once again demonstrating his propensity to place himself as Judge over the proceedings accused Woodward of “wasting time,” and further told Woodward that, “You’ll be cited for contempt if you don’t shut up!”  Let’s again take less than a minute to have a listen, shall we?

LSPC Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr. asks Woodward why he is “wasting time,” and further admonishes him that, “You’ll be cited for contempt if you don’t shut up!”

We will once again stress the fact that Simien is supposed to serve merely as a member of the LSPC for hearings and permit Lenore Feeney, the actual judge or “referee,” to handle the proceedings.  Instead, just as we’ve stressed in the past, Simien declares himself to be the de facto judge (is there anyone else in a courtroom who can inform any individual that he or she is “in contempt”?) of the proceedings.

We will give Simien credit for one thing.  At least he did not come down from his position (Commissioners sit on elevated seats), and forcefully shove anyone in attendance the way Cosmetology Board Chairman Edwin Neill, Jr., did on Monday, August 2, 2021 entailing shoving Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns.  We’ll have another feature on Neill in coming days that we think our subscribers will find very interesting.

While Simien felt Woodward’s defense was largely a “waste of time,” we will point out some written material Woodward supplied to the LSPC before the meeting which we believe to be noteworthy irrespective of Simien’s overall take that Woodward did nothing more than “waste time.”  In Woodward’s response letter to LSP dated March 17, 2021, he makes the following assertions:

1.  No violation shown by LSP;

2.  LSP violated Woodward’s First Amendment right of free speech afforded by the U. S. Constitution and Louisiana’s Constitution;

3.  The suspension should be removed from his record and he be compensated for the lost pay and costs associated with the suspension;

4.  Request for a hearing (he got that on July 8, 2021, which is the very subject of this post).

5.  Double jeopardy given that Woodward asserts he, “was subjected to verbal berating from Lieutenant Eric Cuenca and removed from my honorable service on the Honor Guard and suspended from working overtime details for an extended period of time in 2020 in direct relation to the alleged violation of policy in regards to my tweet on Twitter this suspension came from.”

6.  Violation of LSPC Rule.  Specifically, he asserts:  “The decision to suspend me came twelve (12) days prior to me being served with the notice to be suspended as evident in email dated 12/29/2020 and the letter notifying me I would be suspended was given to me on 01/10/2021. This is in violation of Commission Rule 12.19 (f).”

7.  Another allegation of failure of LSP to conform to timelines.

8.  That the objectionable tweet was made on his own personal Twitter account and that LSP had failed to provide any evidence that he made any post on any social media platform sponsored by WAFB.

While it’s understandable that Woodward could not verbally assert everything above, we do question Simien’s characterization that he was “wasting time” before the LSPC, particularly regarding assertion # 2 above.  Who knows, perhaps once the dust settles from all this, Woodward may contact The Louisiana Chapter of the ACLU and see if they may have interest in taking on his case for alleged violations of Constitutional rights of free speech.

Next up, LSP Col. Lamar Davis took about 10 minutes to provide his thoughts on the matter and justify his imposition of the suspension.  As with Larvadain, we’ll provide his full commentary on the matter.  Here it is:

LSP Col. Davis testifies entailing what LSP policies he asserts Woodward violated and why he suspended Woodward for the tweet.

We’ll point out that, at the 3:18 mark of the above audio, Davis indicates that Woodward’s action negatively affects the trust that the community has in LSP and emphasizes that troopers are to protect all citizens, irrespective of race.  His point is well-taken; however, we cannot help but note the utter hypocrisy of Davis making such a statement given the fact that, according to the Associated Press, on May 20, 2021, Davis accompanied his Chief of Staff, Doug Cain, on a trip to Monroe to attempt to convince District Attorney John Belton NOT to lodge formal criminal charges against the arresting troopers in the Ronald Greene matter.

We can only openly ask just how adverse Davis’ alleged (we use the word “alleged” because he declined comment to AP reporter Jim Mustian) action is regarding the Greene matter?  Specifically, we wonder just how his own action impacts “community trust,” especially among the African-American community?  Will they now view him as a total sell out?  A total fraud?  An Uncle Tom?    We’re not sure, but somehow we believe trying to block criminal charges wherein troopers beat the living daylights out of a black arrestee who was crying out, “I’m sorry,” and “I’m scared,” and, “I’m your brother,” and who would be beaten nevertheless to the point he died would erode “community trust” far more than Trooper Woodward’s tweet!  That’s just our opinion, though.

At any rate, it would seem particularly inappropriate for someone who now looks to have quite likely engaged in obstruction of justice (Davis) to sit in judgment of someone who, while he certainly may have failed to use common sense in making the Twitter post, hasn’t been remotely accused of a criminal act the way Davis is now directly accused of having committed!

Also, Davis stated that he took past infractions on Woodward’s part into account.  In the interest of full disclosure, those past infractions (which the LSPC members had access to as part of their packages for the hearing) entailed a 2000 incident in which Woodward told a driver over the LSP vehicle’s PA system to, “get over into the G/D right lane!” and also a 2010 incident entailing abandoning an off-duty detail to work DWI and other traffic incidents.

As the hearing drew to a close, Chairman Simien again lit into Woodward as Woodward made his closing arguments, asserting that he was “lecturing to the Commission.”  Again, for investing a minute of time, anyone can hear Simien’s chastising Woodward for the content of his closing arguments:

LSPC Chairman Simien chastises Woodward for the content of his closing arguments.

When the final judgment of the LSPC was rendered, Simien once again could not resist the urge to provide his own commentary at the very end.

Simien’s commentary was completely inappropriate and, we firmly believe that, as a result of it, Woodward’s attorney, Michael DuBos, should seek a Motion for Recusal from Chairman Simien at Woodward’s August 12, 2021 hearing of Trooper Woodward’s appeal for alleged wrongdoing during a DWI arrest Woodward executed on March 24, 2021.

To us, it is abundantly clear that Simien, by his very words at the end of that ruling (beyond his other inappropriate conduct) demonstrates that he in no way whatsoever can serve as an unbiased juror in the upcoming appeal!

Let’s again take just over a minute to hear Simien’s unsolicited commentary at the conclusion of the announcement of the LSPC’s decision on the Twitter post, shall we?:

Simien provides unsolicited (and we believe inappropriate) commentary after the LSPC rendered its decision on Woodward’s Twitter post.

So, that’s the latest, folks!  Fortunately, Sound Off Louisiana’s founder’s mother can only pass away once (a fact for which he is most grateful), so, unlike the July 8, 2021 LSPC hearing wherein Burns simply could not attend with his mother’s passing being imminent, he’ll be there for the August 12, 2021 appeal hearing for Woodward and whatever other noteworthy happenings may transpire at that meeting and have his camera along with him.

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