ABBEVILLE — A Vermilion Parish grand jury has charged a Maurice police officer with negligent homicide in a fatal crash last year that left an 83-year-old Abbeville man dead.
Assistant District Attorney Stanton Hardee said the panel indicted Officer Willis Thomas on Tuesday.
Thomas was responding to a call Oct. 11 with his emergency lights and siren activated when a car driven by Paul Suire pulled from a side street onto U.S. 167 and was hit on the driver’s door by the patrol car.
Suire was pronounced dead by the Vermilion Parish coroner. His wife, 79-year-old Philomene Suire, sustained moderate injuries. Thomas had minor injuries.
Sentencing delayed for witness in Nagin case
NEW ORLEANS — For the third time, a federal judge has postponed a sentencing hearing for a Louisiana businessman who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan didn’t give a reason for moving Frank Fradella’s sentencing hearing from March 13 to July 17, but Fradella is expected to be a key witness in the case against Nagin.
Nagin is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 20 on charges he accepted more than $200,000 in bribes from city contractors in exchange for steering them millions of dollars in work for the city.
Fradella pleaded guilty in June to making a $50,000 payoff to Nagin and giving him free loads of granite for a family business in exchange for favorable treatment of his business interests.
Huey P. Long Bridge expansion will open June 16
NEW ORLEANS — The Huey P. Long Bridge expansion project, designed to modernize the span built in 1932, will open to motorists June 16.
Transportation Secretary Sherri LeBas said Tuesday the $1.2 billion widening project, which began in 2006, is expected to finish four months ahead of schedule.
The renovated bridge has three 11-foot lanes in each direction and new intersections with traffic signals at Bridge City Avenue and Jefferson Highway. Drivers began using two new bridge lanes in April.
The driving surfaces will more than double from the original 18-feet wide to 43-feet wide on both sides of the bridge. A new east bank bound overpass is expected to be finished within the next two months with the final work, a west bank bound overpass, shortly before the entire span is opened.
Students face terrorism charges
TIOGA — Authorities say two Tioga High School students are facing terrorism charges in the case of emails sent to the school on Jan. 31 that resulted in a lockdown and extra security.
Rapides Parish sheriff’s deputies said the 17-year-olds face 10 counts of terrorism. Both were booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center and are being held without bond.
Teacher facing sex charges resigns
ALEXANDRIA — A Tioga High School teacher facing 13 sex crime charges has resigned from the Rapides Parish School District.
Heather Michelle Cooksey, 27, an English teacher, was arrested on Dec. 19 on charges that she allegedly had a sexual relationship with a student. She was arrested again on Jan. 22 on nine additional charges.
Cooksey is free on a $35,000 bond.
She faces four counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, two counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, four counts of prohibited sexual conduct between an educator and a student, two counts of sexual battery by fondling and one count of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
Cooksey’s resignation was accepted Tuesday during a Rapides Parish School Board meeting.
1 killed, 2 injured in La. 44 crash
PRAIRIEVILLE — State Police are investigating a fatal crash on La. 44 in Ascension Parish, just outside Prairieville.
Trooper Jared Sandifer said in a news release that 21-year-old Brady K. Delaune, of Gonzales, was driving a pickup north at 5 p.m. Tuesday when he ran off the road to the right, overcorrected and crossed into the southbound lanes and struck a car driven by 32-year-old Britney P. Bertucci, of St. Amant.
Sandifer says Delaune was killed in the crash.
He says Bertucci and her 2-year-old suffered moderate injuries.
Former bank tapped for police HQ
HAMMOND — The Hammond City Council has agreed to buy and renovate the former Hancock Bank Building for use as the police department’s new headquarters.
Mayor Mayson Foster asked the council Tuesday to approve necessary fiscal moves to ensure state funding would be available for the project.
The state awarded Hammond a $600,000 grant for acquisition of the building last year and the council has since approved a cooperative endeavor agreement between the city and the state to buy the building.
Renovations are expected to cost about $500,000 and the state grant will cover $277,500 of that cost while the city will contribute $222,500.
Foster says the final cost of the building’s purchase and renovation will be $1.165 million.
LAFAYETTE — Lafayette schools have confiscated nearly 700 cellphones from about 600 students this school year for violating school restrictions for having cellular phones on campus.
According to a school district study, the most cellphone violations this school year were at Comeaux High, with 301 infractions, followed by Lafayette High with 169, Carencro High with 138, Acadiana High with 103 and Scott Middle School with 32.
The Lafayette Parish School Board is looking at how schools are enforcing the district’s cellphone policy at their meeting today.
Coreil interim chancellor
ALEXANDRIA — The man in charge of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service has been named interim chancellor for Louisiana State University’s Alexandria campus.
Paul Coreil has been with the LSU AgCenter more than 34 years, 12 of them as vice chancellor and extension service director. He announced in December that he plans to retire in September.
“Paul Coreil has served the LSU AgCenter and the LSU System admirably for many years and he is the ideal individual to lead LSU Alexandria during a critical time,” LSU’s interim president, William Jenkins, said in a news release. “He is a proven leader who made the AgCenter’s extension and outreach effort a great success, and it is that kind of leadership that is important for LSU Alexandria in this transition period.”
Alexandria Chancellor David Manuel will leave the campus May 1 to become president of Drury University.
Coreil will run LSU-Alexandria until a permanent chancellor is named, Jenkins said.
A native of Ville Platte, Coreil has a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and, from LSU, a master’s degree in wildlife management and a doctorate in vocational education.
“I am passionate about higher education in Louisiana and very much appreciate the tremendous contributions that have been made by LSUA in not only the Alexandria area but across the state and nationally,” Coreil said. “As I assume this important interim leadership role, I pledge to support and enhance a culture of excellence and community/business engagement that will prepare LSUA and its students for long-term success and achievement.”
LSU-Alexandria offers bachelor’s degree programs in history, English, communication studies, nursing, business administration, biology, elementary education, mathematics, psychology, bachelor of general studies and criminal justice. It offer’s associate degrees in the care and development of young children, radiologic technology, nursing, clinical laboratory science and arts.
From The Associated Press.