ZURIK: Moreno alleges retaliation from Cantrell after longtime security aide yanked from team
‘One of the most disgusting political power moves that I think I’ve ever seen,’ Council president says
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans City Council president Helena Moreno says she’s lost one of the most valuable members of her team over an allegation that she believes is a reprisal attempt by Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
Each council member is assigned an Orleans Parish deputy sheriff to provide security. Deputy Greg Malveaux has been with Moreno since she landed on the council in 2017. Before that, he worked for other city council members.
Moreno says he was an important member of her team.
“He is my go-to guy,” she said. “He is the one that is at my side, you know, making sure that we’re meeting the needs of the community after certain emergencies.”
Moreno said she learned Friday (Oct. 7) that Sheriff Susan Hutson was reassigning Malveaux, to jail duty at the Orleans Justice Center.
Moreno said Hutson told her that she had received a complaint that Mayor Cantrell believed Malveaux was stalking her and recording surveillance video.
Late last month, Fox 8 aired a story on the mayor, showing surveillance video of her utilizing a city-owned property for personal use.
Moreno says Malveaux believes someone at the mayor’s office thinks he helped Fox 8 with that investigation, which he did not.
“The accusation is that he has stalked her to provide (Fox 8) with information … which I know for a fact is absolutely not true,” Moreno says. “He would 100 percent not do something like that. He would never go and just surveil the mayor, or follow her around, stalk her. He would have no reason to even do that.”
Fox 8 never received any video from Malveaux for the story, nor did he provide any information for the report. Some of the videos used in prior reports were taken by a Fox 8 photographer and producer. However, most of the video came from a French Market Corporation surveillance camera, which is mounted near the door of the city-owned Upper Pontalba Apartment.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission also released surveillance pictures of the mayor as it looked into her use of the apartment. The MCC said none of those images came from Malveaux.
“I know who took those pictures that we published,” MCC president Rafael Goyeneche said. “I know who furnished them to us. It wasn’t a City Hall sheriff’s deputy that’s driving for one of the council members.”
Goyeneche said he believes Malveaux’s transfer boils down to political payback.
“I think we’re looking at, you know, dirty old-school politics,” Goyeneche said. “(Malveaux) wasn’t the target. I believe that the target was the council. The council has asked some tough questions of the mayor, has asked some tough questions of the sheriff. Neither one of them appreciate it.
“This is a way of getting a message back to them, that there’s going to be a consequence if you begin to hold us accountable in the manner that you have.”
Moreno says if this is payback, she doesn’t want her team members caught up in it.
“Come at me directly. Come at me,” Moreno said. “Do not come after someone who is a dedicated public servant. Someone who is on my staff, who does not deserve to be accused of wrongdoing when he did absolutely nothing wrong.
“You come at me. Come at me every single time. Do not go after someone who is innocent and accuse him of a crime when he did absolutely nothing wrong.”
Dillard University political analyst Dr. Robert Collins says if this move is retaliation against Moreno and the council, it sets a dangerous precedent.
“When you start moving around sworn law enforcement officers on a political chessboard, you enter into very dangerous territory,” Collins said. “Generally speaking, most politicians -- regardless of political affiliation -- understand that law enforcement is off-limits. You do not play politics with law enforcement. You cannot play politics with law enforcement.”
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Fox 8 asked the sheriff’s office about the reassignment, whether Malveaux had been told of the allegations and what evidence of them Hutson used to make her decision. A spokesperson responded, “Per OPSO policy, we do not discuss personnel matters.”
Collins said the sheriff should provide an explanation.
“I think the sheriff needs to explain her actions, to make sure that this isn’t an act of direct political retaliation or something like that, because then you could run into ethical conflicts,” he said.
Four days after Hutson reassigned Malveaux, Moreno said he still hasn’t been told of any allegations against him. He was able to learn some details through Moreno and others. Moreno sent an email to the sheriff which said, in part, “You also mentioned that there is video evidence, but that the video is merely a video of the mayor. Stalking is a serious crime, but so is falsely accusing someone of a serious crime.”
Moreno told Fox 8 that if the mayor was being stalked, the NOPD likely would be investigating.
“If he’s being accused of stalking, why hasn’t the NOPD called him?” Moreno asked. “Why hasn’t the NOPD called him and said, ‘You are under investigation, we need to question you.’ None of that has happened.”
Malveaux reported to the jail for work on Monday (Oct. 10). Moreno said he hasn’t been trained to work at the facility, so he was told to go sit in his car and wait for a meeting with OPSO’s human resources department.
Moreno said Malveaux has now taken leave, hopeful that Hutson will investigate the claim and quickly clear his name.
“I have no doubt in my mind that all of this is political,” Moreno said. “But, as I mentioned before, then come at me politically. Don’t go attack an innocent public servant and go ruin his life, his career, whatever, just to try to get at me. This is seriously like one of the most disgusting political power moves that I think I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Malveaux was not authorized to speak with Fox 8, since he is a current employee of the sheriff’s office. Fox 8 also reached out to Cantrell’s office for comment about the allegations, but received no response.
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