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The New Orleans Office of Inspector General (OIG) received an anonymous complaint alleging that 12 Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB) employees were not paying their S&WB bills. OIG investigators obtained and reviewed information concerning account numbers, billing histories, hearings, disputes, and all correspondence regarding the 12 employees’ accounts for the period January 1, 2021, through April 27, 2023. OIG investigators determined four of the 12 employees were still employed by the S&WB and had delinquent account balances exceeding $500 as of July 2021. The four identified S&WB employees had outstanding account balances ranging from $1,992.64 to $4,433.07. The total outstanding account balance for the four identified employees was $13,136.11.

The OIG received an anonymous complaint that the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families (OYF) was directing the disbursement of monies donated to Forward Together New Orleans (FTNO). FTNO served as the transition committee for Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell. After the OIG initiated an investigation based on the anonymous complaint, an additional request for the OIG to investigate FTNO’s receipt and use of City funds was made by the City Council of New Orleans (Council) on April 27, 2022.

The Council’s Resolution NO. R-22-203 stated, “BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, That the Council also requests the OIG investigate monies being awarded to nongovernmental agencies through one-year CEAs, including public monies being diverted to Forward Together New Orleans.”

This investigation was predicated on information received from an anonymous complaint that alleged Wisner Funds were being mismanaged by the City of New Orleans (City) and the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) for contracted grass-cutting and lot abatement. The allegation was that the allocated one million dollars in the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) between CEO and the City could not be spent in the allotted one-year time frame. Concern was that any unspent funds would not be accounted for properly.

The OIG investigated the released confidential materials in the NOPD Officer Jeffrey Vappie case conducted by the NOPD PIB. The purpose of this review was to determine if the Police Officer Bill of Rights, La. R.S. 40:2532, was violated in this case. The law states: that “[n]o person, agency, or department shall release to the news media, press or any other public information agency, a law enforcement officer’s home address, photograph, or any information that may be deemed otherwise confidential, without the express consent of the law enforcement officer, with respect to an investigation of the law enforcement officer.” The OIG is authorized to comment on rules, regulations, policies, and transactions for the purpose of preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in order to promote effective and efficient government.

This investigation was initiated based on information received from anonymous complaints which reported the former OPCD Director, Tyrell Morris, was involved in a vehicle accident while operating an OPCD vehicle and that the accident was not properly reported to include the failure to adhere to the submission of a drug and alcohol test, in violation of OPCD policy. Allegations later arose from local news reports that changes were made to the OPCD Standard Operating Procedure Number 1.3.1 (SOP), which required OPCD employees involved in a vehicle accident with an OPCD vehicle undergo drug and alcohol test. Local media outlets also reported that changes were made to the SOP after the accident occurred. The alleged changes to the SOP included added language which lowered the standard required for drug and alcohol test for OPCD employees involved in a vehicle accident while operating an OPCD vehicle.

Basis for Investigation:
• On April 21, 2022, the City Council issued Resolution No. R-22-201 in order to “commence an investigation into procurement practices and activities involving the Mayor’s Office of Utilities (the “Utilities Office”), including without limitation the selection of Smart+Connected NOLA for smart cities and public Wi-Fi deployment in New Orleans.” • Notwithstanding the City Council’s request, the OIG had initiated an investigation into the awarding of this RFP and the potential issues surrounding the award.

The OIG Recommendations:
• The OIG recommends that all City agreements, including pro bono MOUs, be uploaded into BRASS. In addition, the OIG recommends that all City agreements should include the OIG cooperation clause, as shown below, which was not present in the MOU with IGNITE: The Contractor will abide by all provisions of City Code § 2-1120, including but not limited to City Code § 2-1120(12), which requires the Contractor to provide the Office of Inspector General with documents and information as requested. Failure to comply with such requests shall constitute a material breach of the contract. The Contractor agrees that it is subject to the jurisdiction of the Orleans Parish Civil District Court for purposes of challenging a subpoena.

• City Code Sections 2-691 and Section 2-692 do not exempt a person in Rhodes position from reporting an interest in a business that has no income. However, to provide further clarification, the OIG recommends the City Council revise City Code Section 2-692(b), which establishes dollar value categories for required disclosure, to read “Category I: $0 to $5,000.00”, rather than “Category I: less than $5,000.00”.

• The OIG also recommends that the City should require companies and persons who volunteer their services to the City to complete the same annual Louisiana Ethics training that is mandatory for public employees pursuant to La. R.S. 42:1170. The City should also require companies and persons who volunteer their services to the City to adhere to the following provision of La. R.S. 42:1121(B)( 1) in the same manner required of public employees providing assistance to others after termination of their public service.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the City of New Orleans (City) concluded the investigation into the allegation that the Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office (OPSO) improperly obtained hotel rooms for command staff during Mardi Gras 2023.

This investigation was predicated upon an anonymous complaint provided to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) alleging that the Orleans Parish Sheriffs Office (OPSO) improperly secured and paid for hotel rooms at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, located at 621 St. Louis St., New Orleans, LA 70130, in the French Quarter to house OPSO Command Staff during Mardi Gras 2023. The complaint also alleged rooms were left vacant by other staff members.

Based upon the review of records obtained from the Omni, a total of 90 room nights were secured and paid for by the OPSO. In the OIG analysis of the Omni records and interviews conducted of OPSO employees, 37 hotel nights were occupied by the OPSO Command Staff. Four employees stayed six nights or more, three employees did not occupy a room at all, and six employees stayed three nights or less in a room secured and paid for by the OPSO.

The investigation into this matter was predicated on an anonymous complaint received by the Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans (MCC). The complainant reported that two OPJC employees, Dr. Gail L. Audrict and her son, James A. Audrict, are not maintaining an actual domicile within the Parish of Orleans. Instead, both City employees are living in Slidell, Louisiana (St. Tammany Parish), in violation of the City domicile policy.

After reviewing St. Tammany Parish Assessor’s Office records, Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicle records, and Louisiana Secretary of State voter registration records, the OIG has determined that these two City employees, Dr. Audrict and Mr. Audrict, may not be maintaining an actual domicile within the Parish of Orleans. Such behavior would constitute a violation of the City Domicile Ordinance and the CAO Policy Memorandum No. 19(R), Domicile Requirements for City Employees.

On November 29, 2022, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a Request for Documents to the former Superintendent of Police, Shaun D. Ferguson. The Request for Documents included any policies, standard operating procedures and threat assessments involving the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers assigned to the Mayor’s Executive Protection Team (EPT) during the period January 1, 2018 to November 29, 2022. On December 23, 2022, the City Attorney’s Office responded to this Request for Records on behalf of your office and stated:

NOPD does not have responsive records regarding Threat Assessments, Security Plans, Critical Incident Response Plans and Training, and Site Surveys related to operations completed by the Mayor’s Detail.

On April 27, 2022, the New Orleans City Council adopted Resolution No. R-22-203 requesting that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigate monies being awarded to nongovernmental agencies through one-year Cooperative Endeavor Agreements, including public monies diverted to Forward Together New Orleans (FTNO).

On February 9, 2023, the City responded to this request and confirmed that a cashier’s check dated January 27, 2023, in the amount $1,063,410.40 was received from FTNO.
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