Lee Zurik Investigation: Auditor reviews Galvan's taste for fine wine

COVINGTON, La. - Receipts tracked down by Louisiana's legislative auditor show Dr. Peter Galvan, the disgraced former coroner of St. Tammany Parish, and his guests like wine - expensive wine.

One night in 2008, Galvan and six guests dined at La Provence and ordered three bottles of wine. One cost $125, another $120, and the third, a bit cheaper – just $50.

A few months later, Galvan and friends spent $501 on wine and liquor at Del Porto restaurant in Covington. A receipt shows orders for Crown Royal and Sprite, mojitos, martinis, margaritas and four bottles of wine totaling $400.

Purchasing alcohol with public money is illegal.

Overall, the auditor says, Galvan made $53,000 in purchases that appeared to benefit the coroner personally. That includes boating equipment and fuel, airplane accessories and parties – one, a reception in his honor, with a full cash bar.

Much of the audit included findings detailed in a series of FOX 8 investigations, such as the unused sick and vacation time Galvan cashed out. The auditor said Galvan was paid for vacations not recorded in leave records. In fact, the auditor noted, he didn't submit the forms until our stories aired earlier this year.

In our reports, we questioned how Galvan even received benefits because he also worked as a full-time doctor at his private practice. The auditor had that same question and even wrote, "According to four employees, Dr. Galvan does not maintain a regular work schedule and rarely comes to the office."

Our stories prompted the Slidell police chief to cancel a contract with Galvan as a private doctor. Galvan was hired to take care of sick inmates but, as we reported, Galvan never went to the jail – he sent an employee instead. The auditor says that may have violated the law, too, and in fact Galvan was charged earlier this month for using a public employee to fulfill his private contract.

And finally, our stories showed Galvan was improperly reporting his retirement benefits to the state board, counting the unused sick and vacation time he cashed out. The retirement board has changed that since our stories. The auditor says Galvan may have broken state law by improperly reporting his total compensation.

The auditor's office says its staffers requested an interview with Galvan through his attorney. The attorney asked for written questions and the auditor sent them. Weeks later, Galvan told them he would not respond to any questions.

Federal authorities charged Galvan in a bill of information on Oct. 11. He resigned as St. Tammany coroner last Friday, and a source tells FOX 8 that he'll plead guilty Wednesday.