Pointe Coupee's 'ghost employee' sticks taxpayers with bill one more time as case is dismissed
The Louisiana Supreme Court on Friday agreed to dismiss a complaint against a former Pointe Coupee Parish justice of the peace once dubbed a "ghost employee" and is letting him walk away without paying for the investigation.
The state's Judiciary Commission this summer recommended a 180-day suspension for J. Randy Guidroz, but he quit his post instead — stepping aside less than 12 hours after a WBRZ Investigative Unit report highlighted the commission's action.
Chief Justice John L. Weimer agreed with the decision to dismiss the case, but filed a two-page dissent saying Guidroz should have to pay for the investigation. The commission estimated the cost at about $1,600.
"While I agree this matter is properly dismissed, I dissent in part from the order granting dismissal because it does not include recovery of costs as moved for by the Judiciary Commission," Weimer wrote.
Guidroz was labeled a "ghost employee" after it appeared he remained on the Pointe Coupee Parish payroll despite there not being a record of his doing any work. WBRZ reported in 2020 that it appeared Guidroz had taken home $500,000 over a 12-year period.
In addition to being a full-time "intelligence officer" for the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office, Guidroz was also a justice of the peace subject to rules enforced by the Judiciary Commission. His holding dual offices also posed a problem: Louisiana Revised Statute 42:63 states, "No person holding an elective office in the government of this state shall at the same time hold another elective office, a full-time appointive office, or employment in the government of this state or in the government of a political subdivision thereof."
The commission said that, "by acting as an intelligence officer tasked with covertly gathering information on the very same constituents whom he had been elected to serve as a Justice of the Peace, Justice of the Peace Guidroz blurred the line between the judiciary and law enforcement and created an ethically impermissible appearance of impropriety and partiality."
The commission also said Guidroz didn't disclose his sheriff's office employment when asked about it directly.
After Guidroz failed to appear before a Sept. 7 hearing before the court, justices were poised to rule against him but Guidroz quit before that could happen.
"Because Justice of the Peace Guidroz resigned before this court rendered a final decision, this court has no choice but to dismiss this proceeding based on the motion filed by the Judiciary Commission," Weimer wrote.
"It is disappointing that Justice of the Peace Guidroz chose to resign only after the Judiciary Commission and this court expended time, effort and energy evaluating this matter," the chief justice said. "Avoiding discipline by resignation that late in the proceeding should not be rewarded, and former Justice of the Peace Guidroz, not taxpayers, should be responsible for the costs."
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