Lee Zurik Investigation: Records show Thomassie gets around more than most
Written by: Lee Zurik, Chief Investigative Reporter - email
Contributor: Tom Wright, Investigative Producer - email
Surveillance video shows Constable Tony Thomassie inside and outside the Double Deuce bar in Harvey.
The MCC's spreadsheet of travel expenses by Jefferson Parish constables. A separate financial statement by First District Constable Liberto shows he claimed just $1,519 for travel expenses in 2012, compared to Thomassie's $46,926.
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Once a month, Jefferson Parish taxpayers send almost $1,700 to Jefferson Parish's Second District constable. It's part of the parish's supplement to his salary.
Thomassie is the elected official in Jefferson Parish who we found drinking at the Double Deuce bar in Harvey during the workday. Our undercover camera caught him on February 6, drinking at 5:15, about the same time Thomassie claimed on court documents to be serving papers.
"Most people don't know even what a constable is," notes Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
A constable serves court papers when you sue someone in Jefferson Parish's Second Justice Court; Thomassie delivers the papers. That job earns him a nice salary.
In addition to the $21,000 a year he gets from Jefferson Parish, Thomassie also earns money each time he performs a service. State records show, combining the money from the parish and services, Thomassie made $92,000 in 2012.
But when you take a closer look at his annual reports to the state's legislative auditor, something sticks out.
"What I'm seeing is a lot of smoke, a lot of question marks," Goyeneche tells us.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission put together a spreadsheet that details spending for all eight constables in Jefferson Parish.
In their annual reports, each can claim some money for travel and other charges.
In 2012, Thomassie says he spent almost $47,000 on travel.
Jonathan Liberto in the First District spent $1,500 in the same year. Joe Bourgeois in the Sixth District spent $578. The rest of the constables spent nothing on travel.
So seven constables spent a total of about $2,000 on travel and other charges. The eighth constable, Thomassie, spent almost $47,000.
Records from the previous two years tell a similar story. In 2011, the comparison was $27,000 spent on travel by Thomassie to $516 spent by the rest. In 2010, it was $19,000 to $749.
Thomassie keeps all of the money he collects from fees. He just has to report if that money goes to his salary, his office, or travel. By reporting more travel expenses and less salary, we have questions about the income tax implications.
We've been requesting records from Thomassie for years using the state's public records law. It gives elected officials three days to respond. Thomassie has never handed over a single record to us. Instead he remains silent, unwilling to answer our questions.
Tuesday, July 22 2014 6:08 AM EDT2014-07-22 10:08:09 GMT
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