CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta can't escape the limelight after one parish employee accused him of harassment.
Documents submitted to the parish seek whistleblower protection for Donald Bourgeois, the parish's Director of Recovery, claiming he's been kept from doing his job and defamed because he is cooperating with state and federal investigators looking into possible violations of Louisiana law by Peralta.
"In this case, unfortunately, Mr. Bourgeois, who's a dedicated parish employee, has been brought into this investigative process involving the parish president. He was brought into the process through no choice of his own, and now he's being unfairly attacked and defamed," said Alan Bouterie Jr., Bourgeois' attorney.
The document, obtained only by FOX 8, claims that after Bourgeois started answering questions from investigators, Peralta forbid him from participating in staff meetings or interviewing applicants for positions in his department, took him off the essential personnel list, and told employees, "Donny Bourgeois is going down, I got him."
The document even claims Peralta said to a parish resident, "have you ever seen a bigger (expletive) in your life.?"
Now parish leaders think the issue continues to give St. Bernard's image a black eye and now could affect the hundreds of workers employed by the parish.
"The Morale over at parish government is pretty low in a few areas, but again, being that all of this is going on they show up and do the work for the citizens every day," Councilman Guy McInnis said.
It's why McInnis wants to ensure that every employee can work without fear of reprisal.
"Our employees and our administrators shouldn't feel intimidated by anyone when it comes to telling the truth or cooperating with law enforcement agencies," McInnis said.
Peralta is currently under a gag order and won't speak to new agencies, but FOX 8 reached out to Chief Administrative Officer Michael Gorbaty, who said the issue is a personnel matter.
The document handed to the parish is simply a warning, but Bourgeois' attorney said he would take legal action if harassment continues.