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Sunday, July 14, 2019

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DA: Parish president must pay back thousands more

DA: Parish president must pay back thousands more

Lafourche Parish District Attorney Cam Morvant says Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle must pay back the full amount of two checks the parish paid him back in May.

In an opinion released Tuesday, Morvant tells Cantrelle that he was required to pay the parish back the full amount of $38,779.31, not the amount he received minus the taxes.

Cantrelle paid back $22,775.70 on July 20 and told the council that it had been worked out with Morvant for the parish to be reimbursed the taxes that had been withheld; however, Morvant repudiates that claim.

“This statement is incorrect. It was my understanding in my conversation with you on or about July 1, 2017, that the full amount would be returned to the parish,” Morvant said in the opinion. “Regarding tax credits, etc. this matter was discussed with me by an attorney on your behalf, but this was after the fact.”

A parish ordinance enacted in 2014 says the president’s pay is based on the prior year’s average for the sheriff, clerk of court and assessor. That ordinance went into effect last year.

The parish president’s salary was listed as $122,812 for last year. Former Human Resources Director Tommy Lasseigne came up with a $142,502.30 figure for the parish president’s salary this year.

The Human Resources department issued two checks to Cantrelle May 19 – one for $25,000 and the other for $13,779.31. According to the department, the state tax table prevented checks being issued for more than $25,000.

Because the amount was above $25,000, Morvant said, the checks had to be approved by the council. Until they are, the amount must be refunded to the parish.

Cantrelle said he returned everything that he received and the rest was taken out for taxes. He also said the parish’s accountants are working on getting the rest back. Some of it has already been reimbursed by the government, he said, but he didn’t have the exact figures available.

“The only part I did not return was the part I didn’t receive because of taxes, but somewhere down the line I need to get paid what’s owed from the raise so it can go toward the scholarship,” Cantrelle said. “That’s a promise I made, and that’s a promise I intend to keep.”

Cantrelle announced in December he had established a college scholarship in memory of his late grandson, James “T.J.” Cantrelle. The program will give three $500-a-semester scholarships to Lafourche residents attending either Nicholls State University in Thibodaux or Fletcher Technical Community College in Schriever.


-- Staff Writer Dan Boudreaux can be reached at 857-2204 or Follow him on Twitter @dan_boudreaux.