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Parish president's hiring practices under investigation

St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom defends her hiring policies. (FOX 8 Photo) St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom defends her hiring policies. (FOX 8 Photo)
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, LA (WVUE) -

Strong words from St. John the Baptist Parish president, Natalie Robottom. She's now at the center of an investigation, accused of breaking state law with her hiring practices.

Recovering from an injury and in a wheel chair, Robottom called a news conference Thursday to say the accusations against her are blatantly false and suggested they're politically motivated, "keep in mind this is an election season and when you have individuals who lack relevance and a record of achievement yet are running for election or re-election they will do anything to gain attention," said Robottom.

Just this week the parish council voted to launch an investigation into Robottom's hiring practices after hearing a recent opinion from the St. John the Baptist Parish district attorney. That opinion was read into the record at a council meeting Tuesday, "under the existing employment circumstances with the parish administration its is this office's opinion that the parish is currently operating in both violation of state law and the parish charter in providing certain benefits including retirement and vacation pay to temporary employees who are not legally eligible," said St. John the Baptist Parish assistant district attorney, Jeffrey Perilloux.

Thursday, Robottom adamantly denied that claim saying she has been following policies that were adopted by the parish council long before she took office, "the fact that that's what we're doing right now with all the things that this parish is dealing with right now that they're trying to launch an investigation into paying benefits based on a policy that has been adopted and re-adopted by the council for people who have received these benefits as far back as 2008," said Robottom.

"It is the opinion of this office that such conduct is in direct violation of the law and potentially amounts to malfeasance," said Perilloux as he read the District Attorney's opinion Tuesday.

"The bottom line is I am following the policy that exist and if I didn't want to follow legal advice I wouldn't have meetings twice a week," said Robottom Thursday.

When asked if she was concerned about an investigation leading to criminal charges Robottom said, "not with me, I have absolutely no concern."

The parish council also voted to implement recommendations from the district attorney's opinion to fix personnel issues. In a statement released Thursday afternoon, St. John the Baptist Parish District Attorney Bridget Dinvaut said "we encourage President Robottom, and her administrative staff to work in a spirit of cooperation with the Parish council to serve the best interests of the citizens of St. John the Baptist Parish."

You can read the DA's full opinion here.

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