List of Orleans Sheriff's Office Appraisers Raises Questions

Turns out the wife of a local judge isn't the only unlicensed appraiser, earning tens of thousands of dollars doing work for the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.

A follow up to a FOX 8 investigation with our partners at The Lens finds a list that raises even more questions.

Every Thursday morning in the lobby of Orleans Civil District Court..

Dozens of properties are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Some are foreclosures. Others are blighted.

So far this year, close to 700 properties have been slated for Sheriff's sale in New Orleans, many requiring more than one appraisal, with the Sheriff's Office picking who gets the job.

"Both sides can appoint their own appraiser, if they don't, the Sheriff can appoint one for both," says FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti.

"If they're a certain amount apart, he can also appoint a third appraiser, sort of a tie breaker as it were ."

As FOX 8 first reported earlier this week with our investigative partners at The Lens, 5 of the 7 appraisers the Sheriff's Office uses, are not licensed in the state of Louisiana. Raspanti says that's perfectly legal.

"The Legislature said he doesn't have to use licensed appraisers so the Sheriff is following the law," says Raspanti.

"If you're a public official and you're trying to make sure a fair price is determined, why would you opt for the lower qualifications when you can get someone with the higher qualifications at no additional cost?" asks Rafael Goyeneche with the Metropolitan Crime Commission. He says the names of the unlicensed appraisers should raise a few eyebrows.

Take a look at who earned a total of nearly half a million dollars in 2011, performing almost 4700 appraisals.

The highest paid unlicensed appraiser for the Sheriff's Office is William A. Schultz, who earned more than $86,000 last year and about $15,000 already this year.

Billy Schultz is a long-time political consultant.

In 2007, he was sentenced to a year in federal prison on a misdemeanor tax evasion conviction.

Schultz tells FOX 8 he has been doing appraisals for the Sheriff's Office for more than a decade, but wouldn't say any more than that.

Goyeneche says, "It raises more questions about what was the selection process. You look at the background of a few of these people. One has a conviction from Federal Court. Some are political operatives."

Billy Schultz turned 60 in 2009.

His birthday bash was held at the Lakeview home of Municipal Court Chief Judge Paul Sens.
Which brings us to another name on the list who is unlicensed, but earning big bucks.

Judge Sens' wife, who's a real estate agent, Ann Garvey Sens took a 15 hour on line appraisal course, but is not fully licensed.

Sheriff Gusman put her to work last year, right around the same time Judge Sens put Sheriff Gusman's wife, Renee, to work as a court ordered drug counselor.

The judge told FOX 8 last month, he never considered anyone else for that job.

Also on the list of appraisers and unlicensed is a familiar face at Louisiana festivals. The Sausage King of New Orleans, Vance Vaucresson.

The family business no longer operates out of its Katrina damaged 7th Ward meat plant, but in 2011, Vaucresson earned close to $73,000 through work for the Sheriff's Office.

Rounding out the list of Sheriff's Office unlicensed appraisers are Janice Taylor, who made $70,000 last year. She's an attorney and the wife of retired Juvenile Court Judge C. Hearn Taylor.

And then there's the politically connected Frank Stire, the CEO of Montgomery Stire and Partners Public Relations Firm in Mandeville.

As an unlicensed appraiser for the Sheriff's Office, Stire earned almost $27,000 in 2011.

The Sheriff's Office does use 2 licensed appraisers, H.J. Richardson and Peter Hamilton.