Zurik: New documents reveal more double-dipping by state senator

WVUE Abbreviated 10pm - VOD - clipped version

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A law professor and a CPA say a state senator needs to be investigated following new information that Wesley Bishop called in sick to his full-time job at Southern University of New Orleans to fulfill his part-time job in the legislature.

The ongoing FOX 8 investigation has turned up new findings.

When you search the internet for “LWOP,” you find a long list of definitions. It is a common abbreviation meaning “leave without pay.”

It obviously means what it says: you temporarily leave your job but do not get paid. For 56 days in 2016, Bishop’s time sheets show he took LWOP from his full-time job at SUNO to fulfill his legislative duties.

The time sheet even shows LWOP means docked pay. But while the time sheets show Bishop would not get paid for 11 weeks of work, his pay records tell a different story.

Patrick Lynch, a CPA, said he believes someone at SUNO is okay with the issue, because Bishop got paid. According to Bishop’s payroll records, SUNO may have paid him for that leave without pay for 31 of the 56 days.

That amounts to $10,000 of compensation Bishop received when his time sheets indicated his pay should be docked.

“It’s payroll fraud is what it is. He’s making representation … why didn’t he call it to their attention?” Lynch asked.

Remember, Bishop makes $85,000 a year, which averages out to about $7,000 a month.

A look at Bishop’s February time sheets includes 80 hours of docked pay that month. But Bishop received his full paycheck that month - $7,000.

In March, Bishop noted 168 hours, or 21 days, of docked pay, but he received his full paycheck.

“These are public funds you and I are paying for,” Tulane law professor Joel Friedman said. SUNO is a public university.

Following years of budget cuts, SUNO is a university with deteriorating facilities struggling for money.

“SUNO doesn’t have a huge endowment. They need more funding than they get throwing away tens of thousands of dollars right now” Friedman said.

For these stories, FOX 8 reviewed four years of bishop’s payroll records:

  • In 2015, Bishop used 43 days of vacation or annual leave to attend the session. That is allowed by law.
  • In 2016, Bishop’s time sheets show 56 days of docked pay for the legislative session. But SUNO only docked his pay for 25 of those 56 days.
  • In 2017, Bishop used 43 days of sick leave, 
  • In 2018 he used another 79 days of sick time, which is against the law and SUNO policy.

All totaled, SUNO may have overpaid Bishop nearly $50,000.

"There needs to be an investigation starting tomorrow,” Friedman said.

He said SUNO must do an internal audit.

But Friedman and Lynch said other agencies should also investigate, like the state inspector general.

"It calls into question the entire administration at SUNO, and we’re paying for this with our tax dollars,” Friedman said.

SUNO has declined a request for an interview. After failing to schedule an on-camera interview for two weeks, FOX 8 showed up at Bishop’s office.

Bishop asked to see the documentation. It’s the same documentation he filled out that FOX 8 received from the university that employs him. Bishop reiterated that he wanted to see the documentation before an on-camera interview.

FOX 8 sent Bishop the documentation. One week later, he still hasn’t scheduled an on-camera interview and never responded to the request.

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