ARNAUDVILLE — An Arnaudville Elementary School band teacher faces six misdemeanor charges after allegedly showing R-rated movies to his class before Christmas vacation.
St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested 30-year-old Brandon Levier on Wednesday, and booked him with six counts of exhibition of material harmful to minors.
Capt. Megan Vizena says the movies included “The Hangover,” “Ted” and “Horrible Bosses,” all of which carry Motion Picture Association of America ratings of R, or restricted.
Vizena said children as young as 12 were in the class. Arnaudville Elementary teaches students in fifth through eighth grades.
Levier was released on $6,000 bond Wednesday.
Tug boat sinks in Mississippi River
LAPLACE — The Coast Guard says a tug boat carrying 4,000 gallons of diesel and 100 gallons of lube oil sank in the Mississippi River near LaPlace.
Petty Officer Alex Washington said no one was on the vessel at the time and no injuries were reported.
Washington says the chemicals were contained and had not released into the water Thursday night.
Officer pleads not guilty to bribery
NEW ORLEANS — A 37-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department has pleaded not guilty to a felony count of public bribery.
Officer John Ray, who has been with the department since 1975, is accused of accepting $600 in bribes from a tow-truck company between 2010 and 2011.
Ray faces up to five years in prison if found guilty as charged. His attorney, Eric Hessler, says Ray is “confident he will be vindicated.”
Ray was assigned to the department’s Towing and Recovery Unit, which maintains a rotating list of qualified towing companies. He’s accused of accepting cash from a company and in exchange allowed only its drivers to haul equipment from one city tow zone.
St. Landry sets date to name Supt.
OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board has agreed to set a Feb. 7 meeting date to select a superintendent.
The selection was delayed several months after two board members were indicted for allegedly asking for bribes from one candidate in exchange for their votes.
Several board members said prior to Thursday’s vote that it is time to select a superintendent after board members John Miller and Quincy Richard were accused by federal officials of asking interim Superintendent Joseph Cassimere for $5,000 each in return for their support.
Miller and Richard pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned in November.
At Thursday’s meeting, Miller and Richard were among the nine board members voting to include the superintendent selection as an item on the Feb. 7 meeting agenda.
Lafourche council bar hours vote pulled
THIBODAUX — The Lafourche Parish Council will not vote on a measure to allow bars to stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends.
The ordinance’s author, Councilman John Arnold, said he is pulling the proposed change to “do more research.”
Arnold’s proposal would have amended parish ordinance to allow bars to sell alcohol until 3 a.m. on weekend nights while they would still have to close at 2 a.m. the rest of the week.
Man, 31, indicted
in rape of child, 9
BATON ROUGE — A 31-year-old Baton Rouge man has been indicted in the rape of a 9-year-old child last year.
East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury charged Clayton Lundy with aggravated rape in the Sept. 30 incident. The child is now 10.
An aggravated rape conviction would carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Sentence tossed for former cop
NEW ORLEANS — A former New Orleans police captain convicted of plotting to arrange a contract to provide security for Entergy at inflated rates and then skim off the top has had his prison sentence tossed out.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Michael Roussel, who commanded the police department’s traffic division, must be resentenced, but his conviction on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud stands.
Roussel, a 19-year police veteran, was accused of helping to arrange an overpriced security contract between Gladius Inc., a firmed owned by his friend, Joseph Branch, and Entergy. The idea was to inflate the contract so Roussel and Louis Dabdoub, an Entergy security manager and former police captain, could divvy up kickbacks.
But Dabdoub tipped the department to the scheme and then went undercover for the federal government. With Roussel in uniform, Branch gave Dabdoub an envelope with $1,000 inside, leading to the arrests of Roussel and Branch in June 2010.
Roussel was sentenced to 11 years and four months in prison.
Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac
to headline Jazz Fest
NEW ORLEANS — Billy Joel, Maroon 5, Willie Nelson, Fleetwood Mac and Hall & Oates are among the acts headlining this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
The outdoor spring music festival spans seven days over two weekends in such genres as jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, Cajun and zydeco. In all, hundreds of acts will perform on about a dozen stages on April 26-28 and May 2-5.
Other national acts include Earth Wind & Fire, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Jill Scott, Widespread Panic and B.B. King.
Most of the lineup is from Louisiana and includes festival favorites Irma Thomas, jazz singer-pianist Allen Toussaint and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews.
The Neville Brothers, for years the traditional closing act of the festival, will also perform, but not together. Aaron Neville is performing with his quintet on the final Sunday. His brothers Art, Charles and Cyril are performing without him as The Nevilles on April 28.
Other closing acts on May 5 will be the Black Keys and Hall & Oates, both first-timers to the festival. Also making their Jazz Fest debuts are Fleetwood Mac and Maroon 5 — the rock band fronted by “The Voice” judge Adam Levine.
Jazz Fest will be held at the New Orleans Fair Grounds racetrack.
Tickets are on sale now for $45 plus service charges. The price increases to $50 later this month and will be $65 at the gate.
$17.8M in Katrina grants include Jackson Barracks
NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana is getting $10.5 million to continue Hurricane Katrina repairs at Jackson Barracks, a National Guard installation in New Orleans. The grant is among three totaling $17.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Cedric Richmond said Thursday the city of Slidell is getting $1.8 million to fix roads, streets, sidewalks, curbs and driveways damaged by Katrina’s floods. Louisiana’s Office of Facility Planning and Control is getting the money for Jackson Barracks and another $5.5 million for projects at state-owned facilities around Louisiana.
Repairs at the National Guard installation include work on buildings, sewers and water pipes, power lines, communication, drainage, lighting and security fencing.
school security practices
BATON ROUGE — Education leaders are reviewing Louisiana school security procedures after the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Superintendent of Education John White suggested lawmakers should tweak a state law from 2001 that requires all elementary and secondary public schools to have a written crisis management and response plan.
White recommended that school districts get local law enforcement more involved in designing the plans, that the crisis plan be rehearsed and that more details be required in creating the plans.
His suggestions were made to the House homeland security committee, which heard Thursday from education leaders and law enforcement officials about what crisis prevention and response plans already exist — and what could be done to strengthen them.
Poverty Point nominated
as a World Heritage Site
NEW ORLEANS — Poverty Point State Historic Site and National Monument in West Carroll Parish has been nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage site list.
If approved, the prehistoric earthworks would join the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty, Stonehenge, the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef on the list of 962 sites in 157 countries designated as the most significant cultural and natural sites in the world. The U.S. currently has 21 areas listed as World Heritage Sites.
Poverty Point is a vast, integrated complex of earthen monuments constructed up to 3,700 years ago. It consists of six concentric earthen ridges with an outer diameter of more than a half-mile, and several large mounds, including one of the largest in North America.
Thibodaux to stay in North Lafourche Levee District
THIBODAUX — The city of Thibodaux will not seek to remove itself from the North Lafourche Levee District despite a councilman’s proposal.
The City Council tabled a resolution pushed Tuesday by Councilman Chip Badeaux that would have requested the Legislature to remove the city from the district to save tax money.
The Levee District protects the area from Lockport and Larose in south Lafourche to Kraemer and Chackbay in the parish’s northern reaches.
CenturyLink plans to expand
MONROE — CenturyLink plans to break ground as early as next month on a 250,000-square foot expansion of its corporate headquarters in Monroe.
The company said on Thursday the CenturyLink Technology Center of Excellence will include technology research and development labs, a network operations center and office and meeting space.
In the center, employees and vendors with network technology and IT skills will work together to create innovative products and services for CenturyLink’s customers.
The center, which will be located on the north side of CenturyLink’s existing headquarters building, will accommodate about 800 employees and is part of an expansion announced in 2011.
The state will contribute up to $14.9 million toward the expansion, or 50 percent of the total cost if the project is less than $29.8 million.
2 more charged in court bribery investigation
LAFAYETTE — Federal prosecutors have charged two more people in an ongoing investigation of bribes for favorable treatment in the Lafayette court system, including an assistant district attorney.
According to court filings, Greg Williams, an assistant district attorney in the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s office, faces one count of conspiracy.
Prosecutors have also charged Denease Curry with one count of misprision of a felony for allegedly not reporting the bribery scheme when she had knowledge of it, though it was unclear Thursday for whom she worked.
The charges come after District Attorney Mike Harson’s longtime secretary and office administrator, Barna D. Haynes, pleaded guilty Monday to accepting at least $55,000 in bribes to help criminal defendants get favorable treatment, mainly in DWI cases.
Prosecutors wrote in court filings that the bribery scheme went on for about four years without Harson’s knowledge, in part because of a “lack of oversight and safeguards.”
All of the deals arranged by Haynes were approved by a judge in special court sessions handled by the same assistant district attorney in Harson’s office, federal prosecutors have said.
Prosecutors did not identify that staff member, but Williams is the only assistant district attorney who has been charged thus far in the case.
The person who allegedly paid the bribes has been identified by federal prosecutors only as “co-conspirator No. 1.” U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley declined to say earlier this week whether that person is cooperating in the case.
AMIKids to start work on Feb. 1
LAFAYETTE — Officials say the organization hired by the Lafayette Parish School System to provide educational and behavioral intervention services to its most troubled students will start Feb. 1.
The nonprofit organization, AMIKids, is accepting applications for teaching positions for the new program that will be housed at N.P. Moss Preparatory campus.
The School Board approved a contract for the company’s services at its meeting last week. The $184,000 contract is for educational and behavioral intervention services for about 30 students through the end of the school year. Superintendent Pat Cooper told board members last week that the Lafayette Consolidated Government and Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office committed to sharing the cost.
The cost for the services annually is $368,000.
From The Associated Press.