Criminal Justice
 

After more than six months, deputies finally get paid for security work at city auto pound

By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |

Sheriff Marlin Gusman finally paid some of the thousands of dollars he owed to reserve deputies who have been working a security detail at the city’s auto impound lot since May.

The sheriff is staffing these security spots through a contract with the city. But the city has paid Gusman only for work done through August, meaning Gusman’s deputies likely will wait to be paid for work done over the past 10 weeks.

At the rate Gusman is billing, he’ll incur costs $165,000 higher than the cap set in the city contract.

“I’m pleased to get the check. Shoot, I could use it,” said one reserve deputy, who initially contacted The Lens about the overdue payment. “But we’ve just got to keep poking and asking for the rest of the money. Where’s our paychecks for the last two months?”

The Lens is not identifying the deputy, who fears retaliation from Gusman for speaking out. Deputies serve at Gusman’s will and do not enjoy job protection.

The city cut a check Friday for $205,000 for work done by Gusman’s deputies for May, June, July and August. If Gusman’s deputies keep up their current work rate for the rest of the yearlong contract, which expires in May, he will run up $615,000 in billings. But the city contract limits spending to $450,000.

The city has paid Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman only for work done from May through August.

The auto pound contract is one of two no-bid security contracts Mayor Mitch Landrieu has signed with Gusman since May, at a time when tensions are high between Landrieu and Gusman.

When asked why the city didn’t bid the work, Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni said last month that the administration was happy with Gusman’s security work guarding the Criminal District Court and City Hall.

Berni did not respond to a request for comment asking whether the administration now plans to put the security work out to bid after The Lens observed one of Gusman’s deputies snoring on the job at City Hall Wednesday. Gusman also did not respond to a request for comment.

It has not been clear until now whether the payment holdup was Gusman’s responsibility, or Landrieu’s, because neither side has responded to requests for comment.

But in response to a public records request, Gusman’s attorneys promptly turned over a copy of a check – drawn on a bank in Baton Rouge – from the city on Wednesday, which they said was received from the city only on Friday.

Gusman began providing the services without a signed agreement with the city. In fact, the contract was signed only on Oct. 6, more than a week after The Lens began asking for it. Nevertheless, Gusman said he has been submitting invoices to the city since May.

Landrieu still has not complied with a public-records request for documents that would show how much NOPD officers made working the same detail before May, or with a request for the addendum to the contract that explains the scope of Gusman’s work.

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