Teacher unions

Q. There has been a lot of talk lately about teacher unions. How many parishes in Louisiana actually recognize collective bargaining for teachers?

A. Seven of Louisiana’s 70 school districts have collective bargaining rights with one of Louisiana’s two teacher unions.

The St. Tammany and Jefferson school districts do so with the Louisiana Federation of Teachers.

The St. Bernard, St. Helena, St. John the Baptist, Vermilion and City of Bogalusa school districts have collective bargaining with the Louisiana Association of Educators.

Medicare Fraud

Q. There were two stories related to Medicare fraud in the same section on the same day, Aug. 22, 2012.

Section B Page 1: Medicare fraud kingpin stole $13.4 million (which he had to repay) and received 15 years in prison and Section B page 2: New Orleans woman stole just under half a million, received fines of $3.5 million and 135 years in prison.

Why the differences in the penalties for the two crimes, where it looks like the first person committed the bigger crime, but the second one got the greater penalty?

A. Only Henry Lamont Jones, 37, of Zachary, was sentenced on Aug. 21. He had been convicted earlier in cases in which jurors found him guilty of masterminding criminal schemes that cost Medicare $13.4 million. His penalties include a 15-year prison term.

Sandra Parkman Thompson, 57, of New Orleans, was not sentenced Aug. 21. As reported, jurors convicted her in an unrelated trial on conspiracy and health-care fraud charges that she helped steal $470,386 from Medicare. Thompson’s sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. The penalties for the charges, on which she was convicted, range to as much as $3.5 million in fines and 135 years in prison. But, as reported, we will not know Thompson’s actual penalties until her sentencing hearing.

Send questions to Ask The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or fax to Ask The Advocate, (225) 388-0297; or email asktheadvocate@theadvocate.com.