Lee Zurik Investigation: FBI widens Galvan probe

The FBI's probe into St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan continues to widen. The Coroner's Office received another subpoena last month; the records were due last Thursday. It's the third subpoena related to the feds' investigation of the longtime coroner.

The FBI probe now includes the purchase of a 40-acre piece of property by the St. Tammany Parish Coroner, property that measures a quarter mile on each side.

Back in February, we asked why the St. Tammany Parish Coroner needed to buy 40 acres of land to build a new office building. If you take a look at the property, you see that vacant land dwarfs the building. It's unclear why the coroner needed so much space.

In the latest subpoena, the FBI asked for all records concerning the purchase of acreage for the Coroner's Office. And the government wants records concerning the bond issue that voters narrowly passed in 2004. That bond issue sends millions of dollars each year directly to the Coroner's Office -- it helped fund the new building. But as we've shown in a series of investigations, it also funded huge raises for many in the office, including the coroner himself.

What's unclear is whether the FBI is also looking at another purchase of property near the Coroner's Office. Nearly two weeks ago, FOX 8 News showed how the coroner purchased the property from Weyerhaeuser Company for his office building on December 8, 2006. And that same day, a business owned by the coroner, Florida Parish Holdings, also purchased property from Weyerhaeuser a half mile away.

The Coroner's Office property was 40 acres and it cost $1.4 million. The property that Galvan's private business bought was double the size, but cost $400,000 less.

We want to ask Galvan why the properties were purchased on the same day, and whether he received a discount on the larger property or overpaid for the Coroner's Office property.

Weyerhaeuser says the coroner property has highway access, and Galvan's private business property is mostly swampland.

Still, the purchases raised questions with us. It's unclear if the FBI has the same questions too, but what is clear is that the feds are looking closer now at the purchase of this land in Lacombe.

The Coroner's Office already received one subpoena from the feds. The other went to the City of Slidell and regards Galvan's private medical contract with the city to take care of sick inmates at the jail.

Next installment: Dr. Galvan loses a contract