Criminal Justice
 

Whistleblower asks state to investigate extra payments to Orleans deputies

A former sheriff’s deputy turned whistleblower has asked state officials to investigate the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office for paying administrative and support staff monthly supplements that are meant for law enforcement personnel.

On Friday, Bryan Collins filed a complaint with Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera and state treasury officials, asking them to investigate or audit Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s participation in the Deputy Sheriff’s Supplemental Pay program.

Under the program, the state pays an extra $500 a month to deputies whose primary responsibility is security or law enforcement.

Based on an August payroll report, Collins says Gusman is signing off on as much as $300,000 per year in supplemental pay to 51 employees who don’t do such work. Among the employees he flagged: Gusman’s purchasing chief, clerical workers, cooks and maintenance workers.

State law says employees who perform “purely clerical or non-enforcement duties” are ineligible for the extra pay. The state’s application for supplemental pay requires the sheriff to describe exactly how much of each deputy’s job is related to law enforcement.

Collins wrote that the Sheriff’s Office has failed to ensure “that only duly qualified security and enforcement deputies receive DSSP [Deputy Sheriff’s Supplemental Pay] payments.”

The deputy resigned from his job at Orleans Parish Prison late last year after claiming the Sheriff’s Office retaliated against him for providing NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune a photo of a blood-covered jail cell, which he provided to illustrate ongoing inmate-on-inmate violence at the jail. Collins has since filed a federal free-speech lawsuit against the office.

Phil Stelly, a spokesman for Gusman, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Collins’ complaint.

He previously told The Lens that many of the employees flagged by Collins do perform law-enforcement work even if their job titles suggest otherwise.

“In these days of reduced staffing, deputies sometimes wear many hats and are called upon to perform security functions while at other times perhaps performing clerical or medical services,” Stelly said in a statement.

He also said that three of the names on Collins’ list were eligible under a “grandfather clause” that allows these payments for any deputy employed before March 1986.

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