Pointe Coupee 'ghost employee' exposed by WBRZ Investigative Unit off hook for state panel's costs
NEW ROADS — Members of the Louisiana Supreme Court reached a split decision Thursday on whether a "ghost employee" in Pointe Coupee Parish should pay for the cost of an investigation by the state's Judiciary Commission.
Once again, the justices said former Justice of the Peace J. Randy Guidroz didn't have to pay.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported in 2020 that it appeared Guidroz had taken home $500,000 over a 12-year period despite there not being any record of him doing work.
The Judiciary Commission this summer suggested a 180-day suspension for Guidroz, but he quit less than 12 hours after WBRZ reported on the commission's recommendation. With his leaving office, the suspension request became moot and the commission had to drop its case.
Still, under the law, the panel was allowed to ask that Guidroz pay $1,598.02 to cover the cost of the investigation. The court in October said Guidroz didn't have to pay, and in its decision Thursday rejected the Judiciary Commission's request for another hearing on the matter.
The 5-2 vote announced Thursday didn't sit well with Chief Justice John L. Weimer.
"Because of the over $500,000 in proceeds, plus benefits, earned by the justice of the peace in the questionable employment relationship with the sheriff; the delayed resignation; and (a rule) specifically enacted to address this very type of situation, court costs should be assessed to the justice of the peace," Weimer wrote.
The chief justice also said that if the court costs are not imposed, the Judiciary Commission at a minimum needs an explanation so it "can comprehend when and why this court will exercise its discretion not to impose court costs despite the enactment of this specific rule."
Guidroz was listed as a full-time "intelligence officer" for the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office and also as a justice of the peace governed by rules enforced by the Judiciary Commission. The dual office-holding violated state law, and the court noted Guidroz had blurred the line between his two roles.
Justice Scott J. Crichton also said he would have granted a rehearing related to the costs, but only Weimer outlined his reasons in writing.
Weimer on Thursday said there was nothing preventing Guidroz from paying voluntarily, noting the figure "seems a modest amount when considering all the time and effort expended due to his actions–actions he eventually acknowledged violated the canons."
The chief justice also included a footnote that said Guidroz' departure "foisted" on taxpayers the cost of an election to replace him.
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