With Galvan's resignation, what's next for the St. Tammany Coron - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

With Galvan's resignation, what's next for the St. Tammany Coroner's Office?


MANDEVILLE, La. - For St. Tammany Parish leaders, the feeling is bittersweet.

The controversy surrounding Peter Galvan has been a black eye for the parish, but Parish Council Chairman Jerry Binder believes Galvan's resignation will bring some healing.

"I feel good for the workers at the coroner's office who have gotten through this for the last 10 months," Binder said. "I feel good for the people of St. Tammany that we're gonna be moving forward with this."

Galvan sent his resignation letter to the Secretary of State's office Friday afternoon, two days after he made his first appearance in federal court to face corruption charges.

Galvan pleaded not guilty, but he's expected to change that plea as part of a deal with prosecutors.

On Friday, some parish residents welcomed the resignation.

"I think it's a great thing because the taxpayers work hard paying their taxes and it's unfair for someone to just come in, take it, and do whatever they want with it," said Durrane Weldon.

"There will be some bumps in the road, but it's a good thing," said Dale Phillips.

Now, the Parish Council must act quickly to appoint an interim replacement for Galvan after Chief Deputy Coroner Michael Defatta declined the job.

"We have 20 days to name an interim coroner, but in the meantime, Dr. Defatta, as the chief deputy coroner, will be the highest-ranking person at the coroner's office for the next 20 days," Binder said. "I will be speaking with other Parish Council members and our legal team to try to determine what would be an appropriate salary for this interim coroner that we would appoint. At that point, we can start to consider what would be the salary of an elected coroner."

An election to select a permanent replacement to finish out Galvan's remaining term will likely be held in April, Binder said.

The council also continues pushing for reimbursement on more than $700,000 - taxpayer money spent on legal fees connected to two lawsuits involving parish government and the coroner's office.

Still, despite the challenges, Binder sees better days ahead.

"We're going to be fully supportive of that office, Dr. Defatta, the interim coroner and whoever is elected coroner," he said. "We want to have a closer relationship, not to overdo things with their office, but to be in a very good, positive relationship moving forward."

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