Zurik: Formal charges filed against former court clerk following FOX 8 Investigation

Charges cite FOX 8 Lee Zurik Investigation into spending during clerk’s last days in office
Updated: Sep. 4, 2019 at 4:55 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A state investigative body has filed formal charges against a former First City Court Clerk over actions during his final days in office.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel with the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board filed formal charges against Timothy David Ray for three possible violations of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, a set of rules that govern how attorneys should practice.

The charges stem from Ray’s time as interim clerk for the First City Court. A FOX 8 Lee Zurik Investigation uncovered Ray’s questionable spending during his last days in office following an election he lost for the office.

Days before he left office, Ray wrote a nearly $5,000 check to a church pastor, Merlin Flores, for refitting and building new shelves in the clerk’s office. We discovered work had never been done in the clerk’s office and the shelving in place had been there for years.

Flores told FOX 8′s Lee Zurik on the phone that he gave Ray some estimates, but when asked if he did cabinet work for a living, he hung up.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, in their filing, says that “professional misconduct” by Ray warrants “discipline.”

Investigators discovered Flores is a personal friend of Ray and Flores admitted to investigators he did no work. In the thirteen-page filing laying out the charges for possible discipline, they referenced our stories and interview with Flores.

The formal charges against Ray said the payment to Flores were a “gross misuse of public funds.” Our FOX 8 Investigation also looked into another check written by Ray right after he lost the election. The check was written to Morgan Jones to move boxes from the courthouse in New Orleans to a Westbank facility.

The contract between the clerk’s office and the Westbank facility said the company would transport the documents for free, but Ray paid Jones more than $5,000 for that work.

“I personally went and looked at the boxes and nothing needed to be moved at all,” current clerk Austin Badon told FOX 8. "“It was just old fluff files. Just stuff that was in the office -- basically filler for the boxes. They were not active files or anything like that. It was just filler.”

The charging documents reveal Jones had “no prior moving company experience bur instead works at an Apple store.” Ray did not solicit any bids for the work and didn’t receive an invoice until a judge asked for a copy.

Investigators also discovered Jones was a personal friend of Ray.

Ray had twenty days to respond to the charges being filed by the ODC, but was granted an extension to file his response.

If the charges end up going before the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, the three-person panel could recommend anything from the charges being dismissed to enforcement options such as reprimand, suspension or disbarment.

See more investigations at fox8live.com/leezurik

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