Lee Zurik Investigation: Coroner's financial statements an eye-opener

Dr. Peter Galvan (File)
Dr. Peter Galvan (File)

It takes a lot of paper to lay out in detail the financial status of St. Tammany Parish's coroner -- his 2008 statement alone is 48 pages long.

Galvan has to file a financial disclosure form with the state every year. What this tells us is that he makes even more public dollars than we first reported.

Through his private practice, Galvan also does work for the City of Slidell. In a response to our inquiries, the Slidell city attorney wrote that Galvan provides services at the jail and gives new employees physicals.

For that, taxpayers in Slidell send even more money to Galvan. According to his financial disclosures, Slidell paid Galvan $62,993 in 2011, $84,399 in 2010, $86,288 in 2009 and, in 2008, $81,541.

So adding it all up -- we'll use 2010 as an example -- the Coroner's Office and the City of Slidell amounted paid $305,000 of taxpayer money to Dr. Peter Galvan in that year.

Hard to believe, but there's more.

Galvan's financial disclosure form lists all the insurance companies he's paid by. It's a lengthy list that includes United Healthcare, the Louisiana Workers Compensation Corporation and many more.

It helps show the health of Galvan's private practice. Galvan says he makes over $100,000 as a medical doctor – we don't know how much more, because the form doesn't force an elected official to disclose any more than $100,000.

According to Galvan's private medical office, he sees patients all day on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays and Fridays he works a short day, seeing his first patient at 8:00 and his last at 3:00 in the afternoon. Still, on his financial disclosure form, he lists both his private medical practice and his public coroner position as full-time jobs -- two full-time jobs.

By the way, Galvan's wife also has a full-time job – she's the office manager at the medical practice and she also makes a six-figure salary.

Even other elected officials wonder how Galvan can juggle his public and private positions, all the while making a hefty salary and giving himself significant pay increases.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that no one knew about Galvan's huge salary increases -- he never disclosed them publicly.

Schedule D of the state's financial disclosure form makes an official list all income from the state or political subdivisions -- that means any income from any public entity. It's where all other elected officials list their public salaries, including St. Tammany's parish president, the sheriff, the governor and the Mayor of New Orleans.

But Galvan never listed his public salary from the Coroner's Office there. He put it in Schedule E instead, an "X" in a box to indicate that he made over $100,000.

The Ethics Board would call that an inaccurate filing; Galvan could be assessed a fine. Regardless, it may be one reason his huge salary went unnoticed, until we started asking just how much the St. Tammany coroner was being paid.