St. Tammany leaders sound off on charges against Coroner Galvan - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

St. Tammany leaders sound off on charges against Coroner Galvan


MANDEVILLE, La. - As news of federal corruption charges against Coroner Peter Galvan spread across the Northshore Friday, St. Tammany Parish leaders had mixed emotions.

"It's certainly not a day of joy," said Parish President Pat Brister. "We are delighted that we're getting to an end of a process that we've been going through, and it is a process."

Parish leaders say that process began unfolding in January, with their request for a legislative audit on Galvan's activity. As questions mounted, officials said the situation took a significant toll.

"It has been difficult, but we've stuck together," said St. Tammany Council Chairman Jerry Binder. "We were determined to stay the course with the justice system."

"When this started, it was one of the worst things I've ever seen happen to this parish," said District 9 Councilman Gene Bellisario. "When we ran for office, including Pat, this was not on our horizon, wasn't on our radar screen. We have completed the first stage of this, and now we have to start rebuilding confidence back with the citizens."

The coroner's office has remained under heavy scrutiny for months, forcing the council to take control of its finances and even set its salaries.

On Friday, Brister said there is no excuse for taking advantage of public office for personal gain.

"The transparency of what we do day-to-day is something we owe the public, and we know what the rules are," Brister said. "There is no ambiguity about what you can do, what you cannot do. It is spelled out very, very plainly. So, if you choose to go down that road, that's your choice, and it's unfortunate that that's what was done here."

Galvan is set to resign by next Friday.

Council members said they'll pass a resolution within the next 20 days to set an election for a new coroner. In the meantime, the current first deputy in the office will take over on an interim basis.

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