INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Southern's band director took thousands of dollars in kickbacks
BATON ROUGE- Southern University confirmed Friday that a pending investigation by WBRZ led to the questions that are now swirling around Southern University's Band Director, Nathan Haymer.
For months, the WBRZ Investigative Unit has been reporting on questionable activities Haymer was involved in. Among the stories was a lawsuit over one company saying Haymer wouldn't allow the band to play if he didn't receive a kickback. Another concerned Haymer's felony theft arrest from 2005, after police reports showed $40,000 went missing from a high school in Lake Charles.
Following those stories, an anonymous source contacted WBRZ Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto alleging rampant theft by Haymer at Southern University. The allegation involved Haymer demanding money from Mardi Gras krewes in New Orleans to have the band play at various parades and events. During that time extensive research, meetings, and phone calls were held with our sources which included some in the Mardi Gras krewes.
Two weeks ago, the WBRZ Investigative Unit submitted a public records request, asking for all emails tied to any Mardi Gras krewes sent to or received by Nathan Haymer's school email account. The emails show throughout the 2018 Carnival Season, Haymer demanded payments if those krewes wanted Southern University's band to play.
The krewes involved are Bacchus, Zulu, Femme Fatale, Poseidon and Nyx.
One email dated January 3, 2018, reads: "Reduce payment to Mr. Haymer to $3,000."
Simultaneously, one sent to Zulu read, "Make check payable to Nathan B. Haymer for $3,000." That was documented as staff pay. Sources within Zulu tell WBRZ their check was made out to Haymer and was cashed.
Also in January, this email from Haymer to Femme Fatale, "... I will be paid $3,700."
Last month, we spoke to Haymer involving allegations of kickbacks outside the Band Hall.
"I'm an honest person," Haymer said. "I have integrity. Southern pays me well enough, and there's no need for me to get kickbacks."
Friday, dozens of band members showed their support for Haymer in front of the Board of Supervisors. In fact, many of them pleaded with the board not to terminate him. But, our sources said the checks that were made out to Haymer were not deposited in school accounts, leading to what they have described as "blatant theft."
Two months ago, Amy Newsom, an attorney representing Octagon Media told WBRZ her client was also a victim of Nathan Haymer. Octagon Media sued after Haymer requested a 10-percent kickback to have the band and the Dancing Dolls perform at an event.
"Yes, the 10 percent needs to be made payable to me so that the staff can be properly compensated," a text message quoted in the lawsuit from Haymer's phone reads. "I am asking for you to hide this 10 percent in your percentage charge from your business. If this can't be done, please let me know."
"When she refused to pay Mr. Haymer the kickback, he didn't show up to the event," Newsom said. "Many of the school children were disappointed, and my client suffered financial losses as a result of Mr. Haymer's actions."
Tonight, Southern University has launched its own investigation into the emails.
A statement from the school to the WBRZ Investigative Unit reads, "The University continues to read the emails requested."
No further comment was provided.