BATON ROUGE — Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White is claiming he was fired because he resisted the political micromanagement of the city mayor’s administration.
White made the allegations Thursday, through lawyer Jill Craft. White was abruptly fired a day earlier by East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden’s top administrative officer.
Craft says the ousted police chief intends to appeal his firing.
Craft described pushback from Holden about a decision to move a police union leader to a different job. After that, Craft says White was told he wasn’t allowed to make any personnel decisions without prior approval from Holden’s office.
Holden hasn’t answered questions about the firing. In a letter, the city’s chief administrative officer, William Daniel, said there was a “substantial disagreement with the direction” of the police department.
Ex-school board member pleads guilty in drug case
SHREVEPORT — A former DeSoto Parish School Board member has pleaded guilty to a cocaine distribution charge.
Twenty-five-year-old Bartholomew Claiborne, of Mansfield, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison following his guilty plea Thursday.
A federal indictment in September accused Claiborne of selling cocaine more than a dozen times between October 2011 and July 2012.
His sentencing is set for May 21.
LHC acquires home health, hospice agencies
LAFAYETTE — Lafayette-based LHC Group Inc. says it will pay $20 million to acquire the home health service line of Addus HomeCare Corp.’s 19 home health agencies and two hospice agencies in five states.
Based in Palatine, Ill., Addus has three home health agencies in Arkansas; one home health agency and two hospice agencies in South Carolina; and one home health agency in Nevada. LHC will also acquire 90 percent of eight home health agencies in Illinois and six in California; Addus will own 10 percent of those locations.
When the deal is completed, LHC will have more than 300 locations in 23 states.
Students accused of making threats
INDEPENDENCE — Security has been increased at Independence High School after two students were arrested and accused of making threats against the school.
Tangipahoa Parish Schools Superintendent Mark Kolwe said in a written statement on Thursday that Principal Hugh Wallace said the students’ grandmother called the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Tuesday after finding written threats in the boys’ room at home.
Kolwe did not disclose the nature of the threats or the students’ names.
Due to the grandmother’s concerns, Kolwe she kept the boys at home.
Authorities searched the house, found the written threats and booked the two students into the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center.
Search resumes for possible bodies
SHREVEPORT — Authorities have resumed their search for what could be two bodies that fell from the train trestle across the Red River near downtown Shreveport.
Fire Chief Louis Johnson said the engineer of a Kansas City Southern train said he did see someone on the tracks around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
When railroad officials moved the train from the possible spot of collision, there was no evidence of any human injury.
A witness reported seeing two splashes in the river, leading officials to believe there may be two victims.
Authorities say the depth of the water in the area is about 30 feet.
Student arrested for meth possession
LACASSINE — An 18-year-old Lacassine High School student has been arrested on drug-related charges.
Garrett Patrick Guillory was booked Wednesday with possession of methamphetamine and Suboxone and having drugs in a drug-free zone.
Chief Criminal Investigator Chris Ivey says Guillory was arrested after Jefferson Davis Parish sheriff’s deputies were called to the school to investigate a report of a student in possession of drugs.
Board sides with fired spokesman
THIBODAUX — The Lafourche Parish Civil Service Board sided with the parish’s former spokesman Logan Banks in a wrongful termination complaint against the parish administration.
The board unanimously ruled Wednesday that Bank’s firing in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Isaac was improperly handled by Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.
Banks, who served as the parish’s spokesman for 11 months, claims he was made a scapegoat for political reasons following the government’s attempts to communicate the conditions in Kraemer and Bayou Boeuf following Isaac.
The ruling effectively reinstates Bank’s employment and could lead to him receiving back pay since he was fired. His annual salary was about $44,000, not including benefits.
Banks declined to say whether he would seek to work for the parish again.
B.R. General Mid City adds ER beds
BATON ROUGE — Baton Rouge General Medical Center Mid City is in the process of expanding its emergency room as LSU winds down operations at Earl K. Long Medical Center in north Baton Rouge.
Maryann Rowland, a hospital spokeswoman, said the expansion comes as the Mid City hospital has been inundated with a significant increase of people showing up in the emergency room.
Rowland says the number of patients visiting the emergency room has increased 20 percent during the past few months, prompting an addition to the emergency room.
The General’s Mid City location has 30 emergency room beds.
Rowland says the new project will add up to seven patient care areas.
Man pleads guilty in January 2012 mall shooting
BATON ROUGE — An 18-year-old Baker man has admitted his involvement in a January 2012 shooting outside the Mall of Louisiana that injured two teenage bystanders.
Michael L. Burrell pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to two years in prison followed by five years of probation. He was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Burrell’s 18-year-old co-defendant, Johnny Williams, of Baton Rouge, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors told state District Judge Trudy White that Burrell supplied the gun that Williams used to shoot into a crowd outside the mall on Jan. 7, 2012, striking two high school students.
Man gets 40 years for sex trafficking
NEW ORLEANS — A Florida man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking charges involving a teenage girl he drove to Louisiana to work as a prostitute for him.
U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said Thursday’s sentencing of 30-year-old Benson Coriolant, of Orlando, Fla., caps his New Orleans-based office’s first sex trafficking conviction.
Prosecutors say Coriolant recruited a 14-year-old girl to work as a prostitute for him in the Orlando area before driving her to Louisiana in March 2010, where law-enforcement officers found her and sent her back to stay with relatives in Orlando. The girl was arrested later that year after Coriolant sent her back to the New Orleans area a second time to work as a prostitute.
Farmers Insurance pulling out of La.
BATON ROUGE — State insurance regulators say Farmers Insurance Exchange, which has around 23,000 homeowner and 7,000 auto policies in Louisiana, is dropping those lines of business.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said Thursday that the company cited substantial losses as a major reason for pulling out of the state’s homeowner’s market.
Farmers will stop renewing current policies April 27, which means it will be out of the Louisiana market by April 27, 2014.
Donelon says Farmers has about 2.5 percent of the state’s homeowner’s market.
Jeff Albright, chief executive officer of Independent Agents and Brokers of Louisiana, says Farmers’ move is part of a restructuring by Zurich Insurance Group Ltd., which owns Farmers.
Crash kills driver
PONCHATOULA — State police say a Madisonville man was killed in a one-vehicle accident in Tangipahoa Parish
The accident happened just before 1 p.m. Thursday on La. Highway 445 east of Ponchatoula.
Trooper Nick Manale says 33-year-old Justin Estopinal was northbound when he lost control of his SUV, ran off the highway, struck a dirt embankment and hit a utility pole and large tree.
Manale says Estopinal was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene by the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner’s Office.
Students accused of making threats
LAFAYETTE — Two Acadiana High School students are accused of making threats toward the student body and staff members.
Lafayette Parish school system officials say one student, a 14-year-old, was sent to juvenile detention, and the other, a 17-year-old, was arrested after an investigation by Scott police.
According to a news release, the students were allegedly overheard threatening to bring a gun on campus Friday.
School system spokeswoman Angela Morrison said in the news release that “the matter has been resolved and there is no potential for danger.”
3 ways to collect state tax refund
BATON ROUGE — Taxpayers owed a refund from Louisiana will have three ways to collect their money this year.
The state Department of Revenue announced Thursday that electronic tax filers can receive a debit card, a paper check or direct deposit into their bank account.
New to the paper state income tax return this year is the option of selecting a paper check for a refund, in addition to the debit card.
The agency sparked an outcry when it shifted from paper checks to debit cards. Critics complained elderly residents had difficulty making the switch.
The Legislature passed a bill last year requiring that taxpayers be allowed to opt against debit cards.
To receive a paper check, taxpayers must select that option on their paper or electronic returns.
Board delays superintendent vote
OPELOUSAS — After extensive discussion, the St. Landry Parish School Board delayed until next month voting on a new superintendent.
Board member Huey Wyble provided no explanation before proposing a motion Thursday to postpone until March the selection of a superintendent.
The board approved Wyble’s motion 8 to 3, with board member Raymond Cassimere abstaining.
St. Landry has been without a superintendent since October 2011, when Michael Nassif resigned from the position. Joseph Cassimere followed Donnie Perron, who was named interim superintendent several days after the board learned of Nassif’s resignation.
From The Associated Press.