The Louisiana Office of Community Development announced Thursday the suspension of a supervisor during an investigation of reported kickbacks and other offenses alleged by a pair of private-sector whistleblowers.
“This will give us time to conduct a proper investigation,” said Christina Stephens, Office of Community Development’s director of communications.
The supervisor suspended with pay is Courage Idusuyi, accused by a whistleblower of sexual harassment. Idusuyi could not be located Thursday for comment.
Also Thursday, attorneys for the Office of Community Development asked a federal judge to cite the whistleblowers and their attorney for alleged contempt of court in the release of state records to the news media.
The whistleblowers are Christy M. Weiser, of Denham Springs, and Thomas G. Pierson, of Livingston Parish.
Both are suing the Office of Community Development and The Shaw Group Inc. for alleged retaliation after they reported suspected improprieties in a state program that awards money to homeowners for elevation of houses in flood-prone areas.
Weiser and Pierson say in their suit they were hired more than 17 months ago by Shaw, which holds an Office of Community Development contract to monitor the home-elevation program.
The pair say in their suit they reported a state official for accepting jewelry from a home-elevation contractor.
They also reported a state official for selling a list of pre-approved homes; contractors for submitting forged bid documents and charging owners of all-electric homes for moving nonexistent gas lines; and state and Shaw officials for pressuring them to give preferential treatment to some contractors.
Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc., in a court-filed response, denied all of the pair’s allegations.
Office of Community Development officials also filed a denial.
Weiser says in the suit she quit her job in March after months of harassment. Pierson says he has suffered retaliation and been threatened with the loss of his job.
Both are under a temporary restraining order by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady, who barred them this week from releasing government records in their possession.
The judge told Weiser, Pierson and their attorney, Jill L. Craft, to bring their records to him Friday for inspection in his chambers.
John B. Dunlap III, an attorney retained by the state Attorney General’s Office, asked Brady on Thursday to cite Craft and her clients for contempt of court. Dunlap said Pierson appeared in a television interview Wednesday with state records that included confidential homeowner information.
That interview aired hours after Brady had barred the whistleblowers from release of such documents.
Craft said in a court-filed email that Pierson’s interview had been conducted weeks before Brady issued his restraining order.
Brady has scheduled a preliminary hearing in the case for 10 a.m. Wednesday.