Criminal Justice

IG says Muni Court hired judge's relatives, building "dynasty"

Family members of Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens have earned more than $1.2 million working at the court since 2010, according to a public letter released today by New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux.

Quatrevaux reported that 18 Sens family members have worked at the court since 2000, including seven present employees working in a variety of administrative and clerical positions.

The inspector general last month released a report that followed up on reporting by The Lens and our partners at Fox8 that examined how Sens hired Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s wife about the same time that Gusman hired Sens’ wife. That report found no wrongdoing, but it said it had the appearance of inpropriety.

Today’s letter and its findings were sent to Administrative Judge Desiree Charbonnet, who replaced Paul Sens as top judge at the Municipal Court in early June.

According to the Inspector General, the Sens relatives who have worked at the court since 2000 include his son, two of his sisters-in-law, three nephews, two nieces, three cousins, three nieces-in-law, a brother to his sister-in-law, a cousin-in-law and two nephews-in-law.

Judge Sens’ cousin Christopher is full-time clerk of the court and, at over $200,000 in salary, the highest earner over past three years.

Caroline Lampard, the judge’s sister-in-law, is the full-time court clerk supervisor, and will earn over $60,000 this year. Nephew Colin Sens is a full-time clerk making about $40,000 this year. Nephew Edward Sens had the job before him.

Nephew-in-law Dan Crowley has earned about $133,000 over the past three years as a full-time minute clerk, reported Quatrevaux. Crowley’s wife, Lenee Sens Crowley, is also a full-time minute clerk and Paul Sens’ niece. She’s earned over $140,000 since 2010.

The report shows cousin Christopher Sens’ earnings jumped from $57,000 in 2010 to $99,549 in 2011, signaling a promotion to full-time clerk of court.

He has earned $54,000 to date this year. Ronald Edward Lampard is the highest single-year earner between 2010-2012. In his last year as clerk of court, in 2010, he earned $129,010. He is Caroline Lampard’s brother.

After serving on the Orleans Parish School Board, Sens was first elected to the court in 1996 and took over as chief  judge in 2007.

The first Sens family member with listed earnings is the judge’s sister-in-law Mary Sens, who stopped working for the court in 2000. The judge’s son, Steven Patrick, earned over $6,000 in 2010 and 2011, but is listed as inactive for 2012 on the Quatrevaux chart.

Quatrevaux told Charbonnet he was sending his findings to the state Judiciary Commission, “which will take whatever action it deems appropriate.”

“Building a family dynasty at the expense of the taxpayers of New Orleans creates an appearance of abuse that undermines public confidence in the judiciary and our elected officials,“ wrote Quatrevaux.

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  • Sioux

    Witch Hunt…Some of these people you have smeared in your article have worked at the court house for over 20 yrs…BPS….before Paul Sens.