JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A Jefferson Parish consultant is back on the job after resigning in the wake of a Lee Zurik Investigation.
According to our partners at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, Joshua Nemzoff sent a text Wednesday night saying he "made up" with the parish attorney's office. He had quit after the office demanded he provide daily accounting for his activity in July.
Six-hundred and fifty dollars an hour - totaling more than $921,000 in taxpayer dollars - over the past 18 months. That's how much Jefferson Parish paid Pennsylvania-based consultant Joshua Nemzoff to advise them on privatization deals at East and West Jefferson hospitals.
"We have parish employees that work in extreme conditions under some very harsh environments that don't make what this gentleman was making in half of a day," Council Chairman Chris Roberts said.
In Zurik's investigation last month, FOX 8 tried to look into exactly what Nemzoff was doing to earn that money. But the parish refused to turn over the documents, saying they were private. Our investigation revealed Nemzoff wasn't turning in detailed invoices justifying his work. In fact, every invoice that we obtained from a Jefferson Parish source had little detail of why Nemzoff worked as many as 12 hours in one day. One invoice, for example, said on December 31 of last year, Nemzoff billed two hours with just the vague description "NWC." Jefferson Parish decided that was good enough to pay him $1,300 in taxpayer money.
"How anyone could have signed off on paying invoices of that magnitude with very little documentation should be concerning, and that's why, you know, some of us have raised that alarm," Roberts said.
Since our investigation aired, we obtained an email Nemzoff sent to four council members Tuesday night, saying he would stop working for the parish. He writes, "My contract ends on September 5, but I have been informed that my current bill will not be paid unless I provide significantly more detail. I have responded to this latest request by informing your staff that I have stopped work on this project and will not be doing anything more. I have had enough."
We asked Roberts about that email.
"I don't think it is too much to ask of someone when they are paid that amount of money to be held accountable for the work they are doing," Roberts said. "I think any outstanding invoices right now shouldn't be paid, and if there are questions we need to press for additional information."
In the email, Nemzoff also has strong words for the council chairman, inspector general, parish president and Zurik. Nemzoff writes, "I am going to take out my 2009 Ducati Sport Classic with the really loud Termignoni pipes and ride up to Frenchtown for an iced coffee and a doughnut and relax for a while. Chris Roberts, David McClintock, John Young and that moron Lee Zurik can go find someone else to slander."
Nemzoff confirmed to us by phone Wednesday morning that he had resigned.
"He can make whatever comments he chooses, Roberts said. "We're just simply doing our job."
We reached out to Jefferson Parish President John Young, as well as the parish attorney, whose office is responsible for approving Nemzoff's invoices, but both say they are not able to comment at this time. Nemzoff said by phone Wednesday morning that he quit after the parish attorney told him he had to start providing detailed invoices. At the time, Nemzoff said he didn't need the aggravation and claimed the parish knew he couldn't provide detailed invoices when they hired him.