INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: EBR COA Board Chairman in violation of state law
UPDATE: Council on Aging board member C. Denise Marcelle has confirmed Wednesday that Brandon Dumas has resigned from his position as EBRCOA Board Chairman.
BATON ROUGE- There are more allegations of wrongdoing tonight at the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging. This time it involves Board Chairman Brandon Dumas and where he lives.
Today, the WBRZ Investigative Unit was in the middle of investigating his residency when the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging issued a press release claiming Dumas isn't doing anything wrong.
The Council's bylaws, the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs guidelines, and state laws tell a different story.
Assessor Records in Ascension Parish show on November 14, 2016, Brandon K. Dumas purchased a home in the upscale Fountain Hill Subdivision for $440,000. Those documents show it's where Brandon Dumas claimed a homestead exemption for 2016, and also the home as his primary residence.
Bylaws at the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging clearly state "Board Members must reside in the parish throughout their tenure." (Page 5, Section 5). Furthermore, the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs has similar guidelines. Subchapter C of the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs Council on Aging requirements clearly states, "Members of the Board shall reside in the parish throughout their tenure." All of these stipulations at the local, and state levels are backed up by State Laws. Louisiana Revised Statute RS 46:1602 Section B says regarding Council on Agings, "Each Council shall be composed of not less than five citizens of the state from among citizens within the parish who are interested in the welfare of the aging people."
In a press release issued by the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, the Agency said, "Dr. Dumas and his family own several parcels of land and two residential properties in Ascension Parish, the most recent was purchased in November 2016. The Dumas family has decided to relocate from East Baton Rouge to Ascension Parish and is currently in the process of relocation. When Dr. Dumas' Board Chairman term expires on May 18, 2017, he will also resign from the Board in anticipation of his residency change."
That however, goes against what neighbors in the Fountain Hill Subdivision told the WBRZ Investigative Unit. They said Brandon Dumas has lived at that house listed on the property tax records for a few months. A yard flag, with the letter "D" gently blew in the wind during our visit, but no one answered the door.
Two months before Dumas moved out of East Baton Rouge Parish according to Ascension tax records, the Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs sent a letter to Dumas about the residency requirements of another EBR Council on Aging Board Member. In a letter dated, September 2, 2016, Mr. Dumas received a letter stating that Treasurer Ricco Thomas was ineligible to serve on the Council on Aging Board since he lived in Addis. That letter clearly told Dumas that GOEA policy is that the board members must live in the parish where the agency is located.
Tonight, those in the legal community say Dumas is in clear violation. They also added that he has been sitting on that Board illegally since he started claiming the Homestead Exemption in Ascension Parish in November of 2016.
The Governor's Office of Elderly Affairs said it is now aware of this issue, and a letter will be sent to Dumas letting him know he is ineligible to sit on the EBR Council on Aging Board. Again, Dumas should have stepped down from the Board in November.
The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging has come intense scrutiny over the past month after a series of reports by the WBRZ Investigative Unit. Those reports showed that Board Member Dorothy Jackson drafted a will for a 95 year old client which named Executive Director Tasha Clark Amar as the executrix over Helen Plummer's will. The will would have paid Clark Amar nearly $125,000 over the next 20 years. After a series of stories, Clark Amar and Jackson backed off the will for Plummer.
Following those stories, WBRZ showed up at a Board Meeting where the Board listed it was discussing the State Legislative Auditor's impending audit. The agenda stated "executive session may be required." However, executive sessions are limited to talking about personnel matters, pending litigation or security of personnel. The State Legislative Auditor said the Board violated the open meetings laws when it called a meeting to discuss their audit. Following that story, Board members claimed the audit was never discussed. However, since the agenda was never amended, the State said the Board members in attendance were still in violation of the State's Open Meetings laws.