Serpas responds after FOX 8 investigates his NOPD return - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Serpas responds after FOX 8 investigates his NOPD return

Updated:
New Orleans -- The NAACP is calling for an investigation into alleged inconsistencies surrounding last year's return of New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas.

A FOX 8 investigation raised questions about the chief's pension enrollment form, the city attorney who notarized it and payroll records.

Neither Serpas nor Mayor Mitch Landrieu would do an on camera interview before our story aired, choosing to release statements instead. But Tuesday, they were speaking out.

As FOX 8 first reported Monday night at 10, the documents in question show Serpas' date of employment on his pension application form as May 6, 2010 -- which the city says was a mistake, since he actually didn't start work until the week after that.

But as FOX 8 also pointed out Monday night, that same date was also listed as the date the document was signed by Serpas and two witnesses, and notarized by an assistant city attorney -- even though the chief was still in Nashville, addressing that city's severe flooding.

Payroll records also show Serpas was paid by the city on May 10, even though he was still police chief of Nashville, and even though New Orleans paid interim chief Marlon Defillo a chief's salary on that date as well.

Serpas says he did nothing wrong.

"None of that is accurate," Serpas told FOX 8. "The date of hire has been clear from the very beginning. It's May 6th. I was completely transparent by documenting that I needed a leave of absence, to stay with the people of Nashville. I actually filled out that form that you're talking about on May 18th, when I took my physical. So the fact that New Orleanians signed that form is completely consistent. I've been very transparent."

Serpas did not say he signed the form in front of the assistant city attorney who notarized it, dating it as being executed on May 6.

Mayor Landrieu says the story is nothing more than an attempt by people within the department to smear the police chief's name because they don't like his policies.

As far as questions about notarization rules being broken, the Mayor told FOX 8, "That matter is always between the lawyer and the Bar Association. Of course it concerns me. As a general rule in the practice of law, you shouldn't notarize a document that's out of the presence of the person that signs it. So of course it concerns me."

When asked about the NAACP's calls for a probe into the matter, Landrieu said, "Danatus King and the NAACP have been against Chief Serpas since before he got here."

The head of the NAACP says, in any case, there should be an investigation into the alleged inconsistencies, since the chief runs the department with a "you lie, you die" zero tolerance policy.

"If there was a mistake made on the date on that document, and mistakes made on other documents, then it shows either an incompetency on the part of the notary, and that the witnesses didn't notice the date that was on, then that the person signing it didn't notice the date was wrong," said Danatus King, President of the NAACP's New Orleans branch.

The director of the pension board says the wrong date could have been a result of someone with the city thinking Serpas had to re-enter the pension system before his 50th birthday, on May 9.  The document itself says the applicant must be employed before age 50. 

That wasn't an issue for the chief, who had credit for prior service, and it would not have affected his huge pension payout.
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