As activist Belinda Parker-Brown, six other St. Tammany residents sue State Police Commission Members alleging Open Meetings violation, U. S. Congressional candidate Cleo Fields says he would “bring again” legislation to abolish the Commission.

Community activist Belinda Parker-Brown, along with fellow St. Tammany Parish residents Rita McDonald and Hvishi Opa Luksl, explain why they sued the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) alleging violation of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Laws entailing the mailing of a letter to the campaign of Collin Sims, who is running for District Attorney in St. Tammany Parish in the election this Saturday, March 23, 2024.

On February 1, 2014, we published this feature covering the fact that the LSPC sent Collin Sims’ campaign a letter indicating that it needed to “cease and desist” from utilizing LSP troopers’ photos on billboards, which the LSPC indicated essentially was a tacit endorsement of Sims by the troopers.

Thereafter, we published this March 10, 2024 feature wherein the Sims campaign responded to the January 20, 2024 letter stating no violation whatsoever had been committed.

Belinda Parker-Brown, an avid follower and frequent guest of Sound Off Louisiana, contacted us informing us that she was “furious” over the LSPC engaging in this action and that it was a, “blatant violation of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Laws.”

On Monday, March 18, 2024, Parker-Brown, along with six (6) other St. Tammany Parish residents filed this lawsuit against the seven (7) LSPC Members whose signatures appear on that letter alleging they in fact violated Louisiana’s Open Meetings law.

Let’s take a look at a few highlights from the lawsuit:

On Saturday, January 20, 2024, each Member of the LSPC began a process of signing a letter addressed to Mr. Collin Sims, a candidate for District Attorney in St. Tammany Parish for which the election is on Saturday, March 23, 2024.

The letter accuses Mr. Sims, the interim District Attorney of St. Tammany Parish, of using the photo, “in a false light to depict those (Louisiana State Police) troopers as standing in support of your campaign.”

The named LSPC Defendants mailed the letter to Mr. Sims without placing any intention to engage in such an act on any agenda, without noticing any member of the public of its intent to do so, and without convening any public meeting to permit public comment regarding the obtaining of a formal, on-the-record affirmative vote by the LSPC body to engage in the act of drafting and mailing the letter.

The LSPC is a public body and is therefore subject to adherence to Louisiana’s Open Meetings Laws.

Louisiana R. S. 42:12 calls for the “liberal construction” of “public policy for open meetings,” and further states in R. S. 42:12(A) that, “It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens be advised of and aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.  Toward this end, the provisions of this Chapter shall be construed liberally.”

Louisiana R. S. 42:14(B) states the following: “Each public body shall be prohibited from utilizing any manner of proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, or any other means to circumvent the intent of this Chapter.”

By circulating the letter evidenced and identified as “P-1,” the named Defendants clearly engaged in secretive proxy voting as evidenced by the exact dates and times of their signatories on the letter. Such signatures represent what should have been affirmative votes to draft and send the letter conducted in an open meeting of the LSPC; however, the named Defendants circumvented their requirement to conduct such a public matter at an open meeting and took it upon themselves to engage in the very “proxy voting and secret balloting” stated as being prohibited in R. S. 42:14(B).

Petitioners aver that the named Defendants circulated that letter, electronically signed, date stamped, and time stamped their signatures on the letter, then mailed the letter to Collin Sims with the direct and specific intent to avoid public notice, public discussion, and to specifically block Petitioners’ rights to both observe deliberations regarding the contents of the letter and to offer public comment entailing same. In short, Defendants’ acts constitute a blatant and obvious violation of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Laws.

By their knowing and willful violations of LA R. S. 42:14(B) and pursuant to LA R. S. 42:28, each LSPC Member named Defendant is personally liable unto Petitioners for the amount of $100 each to each named Plaintiff in this Petition. Further, Pursuant to R. S. 42:26(C), upon successful awarding of a Judgment of this Honorable Court in which such $100 civil penalty is assessed against each LSPC Member and awarded to each Petitioner in this Petition, Petitioners are also entitled to reasonable attorney fees and the costs of this litigation.

Further, this Petition has been filed within the 60-day timeframe permitted by LA R. S. 42:28 for the imposition of Civil Penalties against the seven (7) named Defendant Members of the LSPC as 60 days from January 20, 2024 is Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

So the suit in essence says that, as evidenced by the letter provided as an Exhibit to the lawsuit (P-1), the LSPC Members engaged in a modern-technology slow-motion meeting wherein LSPC Members are alleged to have cast affirmative votes for mailing out the letter on the following dates and times:

Chairman Eulis Simien, Jr., was first to cast an affirmative vote for mailing the letter by his date and time signature of Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 5:04 p.m.

Simien was followed by Vice Chairman Monty Montelongo, who is the LSP Trooper representative on the LSPC, who cast his electronic vote to mail the letter on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 5:09 p.m.  [Sidebar:  The letter was copied to the Louisiana State Troopers’ Association].

Montelongo was then followed by Oliver Jenkins, who cast his affirmative vote via his electronic signature on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 5:30 p.m.

Jenkins was then followed by Bernell Nevil, Jr., who is no longer an LSPC Member, on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 6:39 p.m.

Nevil was followed by Mark “Aubrey” Cole, who cast his affirmative vote via his electronic signature on Sunday, January 21, 2024 at 5:18 p.m.

Cole was followed by Tony Pierite on Sunday, January 21, 2024 at 5:31 p.m.

Pierite was followed by the final member of the LSPC, who also resides in St. Tammany Parish, Jared Caruso-Riecke, who allegedly cast his affirmative vote via his electronic signature on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 12:36 p.m.

Let’s go ahead and embed that letter (Exhibit P-1 in the litigation) again at this time:

Now let’s take a look at what Parker-Brown and two other Plaintiffs in the matter had to say on camera about why they filed the suit:

 3/18/24:  Parker-Brown, McDonald, and Luksl discuss their lawsuit against the Members of the LSPC.

On another note and, as referenced near the end of that video, Louisiana State Sen. Cleo Fields, who has indicated that he is a candidate for the redrawn 6th U. S. Congressional District, responded to a question by Sound Off Louisiana‘s Robert Burns regarding why his bill to abolish the LSPC met a fate of being, “withdrawn from the files of the Senate.”  Let’s take a look at his response at this time:

 3/18/24:  Sen. Fields responds to the fate of his bill to abolish the LSPC being “withdrawn from the files of the Senate.”

So, folks, one can only assume that this was not the greatest day for the LSPC.  As we indicated on the first video above, we will monitor the suit against the LSPC Members (open meetings violations are personal liabilities and can NOT be reimbursed by the agency for whom a member serves) and produce updates as developments unfold.

CLICK HERE to view Sen. Fields’ presentation to the BRPC in its entirety.

St. Tammany District Attorney Collin Sims’ campaign responds to State Police Commission’s letter by declaring no violation and boomerangs it right back citing apparent involvement of Commissioner Riecke in Vincent Wynne’s campaign appearing to violate LSPC Rule and Louisiana Constitution.

Billboards of District Attorney Collin Sims’ campaign.


Editor’s Note:

On the video below, the “smart people” Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns references have no involvement whatsoever in the campaign of Collin Sims, nor do they reside in St. Tammany Parish.  Further, Burns has engaged in no interaction whatsoever with the Sims campaign.


On February 1, 2014, we published this feature covering the fact that the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) sent the Collin Sims campaign a letter indicating that it needed to “cease and desist” from utilizing LSP troopers’ photos on billboards (see feature photo for this post).  The LSPC indicated essentially that the billboards constituted a tacit endorsement of Sims by the troopers.

Literally within an hour of publishing the feature, we received feedback from what Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns states publicly came from people, “who are more intelligent than me.”  Those individuals follow the blog religiously, and they indicated that there, “is no expectation of privacy,” on the part of the LSP troopers and, further, that since it was not the troopers who initiated the placement of the billboards nor paid for them, there was no campaign violation whatsoever.

Accordingly, Burns decided to address the LSPC at its February 8, 2024 meeting to inform the LSPC of that feedback he’d gotten.  Here’s his presentation before the LSPC:

 2/8/24:  Burns provides the LSPC with the assessment of a few followers of his blog whom Burns says, “I have enough humility to say are more intelligent than me,” regarding the LSPC’s January 20, 2024 letter to the Sims campaign.

Interestingly enough, approximately six (6) hours after Burns made his commentary above, the Sims campaign sent this email of February 8, 2024 clearly indicating that there was no violation of any rule and strongly chastising both the LSPC and one of its members, Jared Riecke, for an apparent violation of both the Louisiana Constitution and LSPC Rules in sending out the letter to the Sims campaign.  Let’s take a look at some highlights from that email at this time:

The image in question is of Collin Sims, executing his duties as Chief of the Criminal Division for the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, at a public press conference in Covington, Louisiana on October 13, 2023, with the family of Captain Vincent Liberto, a Mandeville police officer murdered in the line of duty.

In addition to family members of Captain Liberto, individuals in attendance included prosecutors and law enforcement officers from various agencies involved with the case. The video feed of the press conference was broadcast live on television and the internet and numerous still images were published in multiple online and print media sources.

The usage of the picture is not in violation of any law or rule for Mr. Sims or those pictured alongside him. The image on the billboard does not indicate or insinuate any endorsement from any individual in the photograph. It is a public picture of Collin Sims doing his job in a public space.

What should be concerning to the commission, those who govern it, and the general public, is the apparent involvement herein by Louisiana State Police Commission member Jared Caruso-Riecke and any direct or indirect involvement he may have with the upcoming election for the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Direct or indirect involvement by Mr. Rieke in support of candidate Vincent Wynne, or any other candidate, appears to be in violation of the Louisiana Constitution (Article 10, Section 47) and Louisiana State Police Commission Rules (LSPC Rule 14.2).

The purpose of any appointment to the Louisiana State Police Commission is to be in service to the citizens of Louisiana. It is disappointing to see this commission potentially used in a political manner in contrast to its mission, state law, and its own rules.

Based on the above scathing smack down of the LSPC, we don’t look for any Cease and Desist anytime soon, and we want to thank one dedicated Sound Off Louisiana follower who alerted us to the fact that there is no campaign violation of any sort (together with the rationale for why) within an hour of us publishing our feature.

Our only question at this point is whether or not the LSPC bothered with contacting its own attorney, Lenore Feeney, and if so, if she gave a green light to sending out this letter.  We think it speaks volumes if the LSPC members did not consult her and speaks even more volumes if they did and that January 20, 2024 letter went out anyway!

Will Kelly Anderson obtain a “boatload of money” via qui tam lawsuit as U. S. pushes for $42 million restitution & 30-year prison sentence at Dr. Akula’s April 10 sentencing?

Dr. Shiva Akula, who has been incarcerated since approximately January 9, 2024 and who was convicted on 23 counts of Medicare fraud totaling approximately $115,000 on November 6, 2023, awaits sentencing on April 10, 2024 at 2:00 p.m., at which time the New Orleans U. S. Attorney’s Office seeks the maximum 30-year prison sentence as well as a restitution order totaling $42 million.


Addendum (March 10, 2024):

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, Dr. Akula did file this Response to the U. S. Government’s Motion to Appoint a Receiver.  

Also, on March 6, 2024, Judge Africk issued this Order indicating that the Government’s loss calculation would not be considered until the final presentencing report is received rather than the draft submitted. 


On November 7, 2023, we published this feature recapping the trial of Dr. Shiva Akula, a New Orleans Indian physician whom the U. S. Government charged with 23 counts of Medicare fraud totaling approximately $115,000.

We also stressed in our feature of Day two (2) of the trial that  key prosecution witness Kelly Anderson stood to obtain a “boatload of money” from her qui tam lawsuit.  That phrase “boatload of money” is not ours but rather the phrase uttered by Akula’s defense attorney, David DeVillers, to the jury during opening arguments.  DeVillers, in an apparent attempt to impugn the integrity of Anderson, uttered the phrase on at least four or five occasions during opening arguments.  From that feature, let us again provide a quick primer on the nature of a qui tam lawsuit:

As Burns stated he’d do in the video, here’s the link for guidance on the nature of the qui tam lawsuit filed by future prosecution witness Kelly Anderson.  From that Cornell University explanation:

In a qui tam action, a relator brings an action against a person or company on the government’s behalf. The government, not the relator, is considered the plaintiff. If the government succeeds, the relator bringing the suit receives a share of the award. This is also called a popular action.

For example, the federal False Claims Act authorizes qui tam actions against parties who have defrauded the federal government. If successful, a relator in a False Claims Act qui tam action may receive up to 30% of the government’s award.

In today’s Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns provides a comprehensive update on the Akula matter and explains why the distinct possibility does exist that Anderson may well receive that “boatload of money” as the U. S. Government pushes hard for $42 million in restitution during Akula’s sentencing on April 10, 2024:

 Burns provides comprehensive update of USA v. Dr. Shiva Akula, who is scheduled to be sentenced on April 10, 2024, at which time the US Attorney will be seeking the maximum 30-year prison sentence and a $42 million restitution order.

Let us supply the support documents we reference in the preceding video:

1.  Judge Africk’s 1/31/24 denial of Akula’s Motion for New Trial and Motion for Judgment of Acquittal.

2.  U. S. Attorney’s 1/28/24 Motion to Appoint Receiver.

3.  Judge Africk’s Order for Akula to Respond to the Motion to Appoint a Receiver No Later than Friday, March 8, 2024.

4.  Lis Pendens (Filed Monday, March 4, 2024):  St. Charles Avenue Condo in New OrleansCovington Hospice Facility; Clearview Hospice Facility in Metairie.

5.  U. S. Attorney’s March 5, 2014 Memorandum for Loss Calculation and Restitution Amounts.

Toward the middle of page five (5) of the Memorandum for Loss Calculations, it should be noted that a significant amount of Akula’s billings, according to the U. S. Attorney’s Office, entailed patients who were, “not hospice eligible.”

We can’t help but be reminded of our past February 13, 2019 feature in which Billy Broussard went to excruciating lengths to authoritatively demonstrate his contention that Gravity District 8 of Ward 1 of Calcasieu Parish sought to defraud FEMA/GOHSEP by having ineligible debris reported to FEMA/GOHSEP as eligible.  All of this dealt with the “Indian Bayou project,” which entailed cleanup in the aftermath of the 2006 flood.

He did so via his October 4, 2018 email for which we supplied a link (two paragraphs above the audio file on the above-linked feature).  The email provides a link for a May 20, 2009 email from internal auditor Kelly Fontenot to FEMA/GOHSEP-contracted folk indicating a need to get those GPS locations to go away.

It must be nice when you’re the government and you can somehow make “GPS locations go away” such that potential FEMA/GOHSEP fraud goes undetected.  We bet Dr. Akula sure wishes he had a way to get, “those Medicare billing codes to go away.”

It appears he may spend the remainder of his life in Federal prison (along with complete liquidation of all of his assets) as a result of his having no such ability!