The case against former Parish Attorney Mary Roper for alleged email tampering and cybercrime is one no prosecutors in Louisiana’s capital city appear anxious to take on, so it’s landed in the lap of St. Landry Parish’s district attorney.
St. Landry DA Earl Taylor was roped into handling the case after both East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III and the state Attorney General’s Office took a pass — citing unspecified potential conflicts of interest.
Roper had spent 21 years in the Parish Attorney’s Office before the Metro Council fired her last September following a messy fight that involved a series of back-and-forth accusations.
Roper was given a misdemeanor summons by Louisiana State Police on Wednesday that accused the city-parish’s former attorney of illegally accessing the email accounts of three assistant parish attorneys more than 40 times. Roper is alleged to be in violation of one count each of offenses against intellectual property, computer tampering and online impersonation, according to a State Police spokesman.
Taylor’s top deputy in St. Landry Parish, Assistant District Attorney Frank Trosclair Jr., said his office would review the evidence against Roper before deciding whether to file criminal charges. Trosclair said he hadn’t yet seen a copy of the file but that, as a rule, his office doesn’t comment on matters in litigation.
Several messages left with Roper’s attorney, Wade Shows, seeking comment on the allegations were not returned. She also has not responded to calls seeking comment.
Roper, whose 21 years in city-parish government came to an end when she was fired by the Metro Council last September, publicly feuded with several members of the council on numerous issues during her tenure as the parish’s top attorney. Some council members accused her of unprofessional conduct, including recording private conversations and not working full time at her job; for her part, Roper has filed several lawsuits against the Metro Council.
Building moratorium idea for Ascension Parish a nonstarter
The possibility of declaring a moratorium on authorizing new subdivisions in fast-growing Ascension Parish was raised once again at a meeting of the parish Planning Commission but it again doesn’t appear to be gaining any traction.
Commissioner Robert Burgess floated the idea Wednesday in Gonzales in the wake of a contentious meeting last month over three new housing developments residents claimed then would further burden roads and drainage.
The parish planning staff would not recommend approval nor denial of any of the projects. Relying on broad mandates in the parish’s master plan to withhold the recommendations, the planners cited Ascension’s overburdened roads and other infrastructure, even though the projects met the development code.
Commissioners did not feel then the master plan and broad infrastructure worries represented a sufficient legal basis to reject the projects and said that, relying on the staff’s rationale, would, in effect, mean a moratorium with the parish’s major infrastructure troubles.
“Unless the Parish Council elects to have a moratorium, that is not a position we can take,” Commissioner Gasper Chifici said Aug. 12.
Fast forward a month, and Burgess raised whether to recommend the council enact a building moratorium.
“I thought it’d be good for us to, at least, talk about should we recommend to the council a moratorium on development until the impact fee is decided one way or other,” Burgess said.
A committee headed by Chifici is reviewing road impact fees on new development. The group meets again at the end of the month.
Commissioner Donald Songy suggested a moratorium would call attention to the importance of impact fees, a concept bandied about for years but narrowly rejected by the council in 2006.
Others opposed a moratorium. Commissioner Morrie Bishop said some parts of the parish aren’t growing fast enough to require a moratorium. He said the commission should not be trying to shame the council into doing something.
“No, I disagree,” Burgess responded. “I don’t think we’re trying to shame anybody. I think we’re trying to get to an answer.”
The commission took no action, then learned the parish had 41 new subdivisions in development. Burgess said Friday he doesn’t plan to raise the topic again.
“I brought it up for discussion. We had a discussion. I don’t see any reason to bring it up again unless someone else on the commission would like to discuss it again,” he said.
Advocate staff writers Bryn Stole and David J. Mitchell contributed to this article.