As a new occupant gets ready to move into the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office next month, Walter Reed is in moving mode, and not just from the office he’s held for 30 years.
He’s put his downtown Covington condo on the market, too.
Reed listed the Claiborne Place property at 948 Village Walk with Showcase Realty on Nov. 4, with an asking price of $619,900. That’s more than double what the St. Tammany Parish Assessor’s Office valued the property at on the 2014 tax roll: $267,590.
Online real estate listings for Reed’s Covington digs describe a 3,849-square-foot condo — a three-story unit with three bedrooms and 3½ baths.
“Old World French Quarter Architectural Influences Meets New,” the listing says. The condo boasts an elevator, imported Italian fireplace mantels, custom silk tasseled draperies and a library with a full bar.
The Assessor’s Office is closed until Monday and could not be reached for comment on the large gap between the listing price and the valuation. Reed bought the property in 2011 for $230,000, according to St. Tammany court records.
He began claiming a homestead exemption on the condo only this tax year. He previously had an exemption on another property, at 219 Thornwood Drive, which he sold in April. He had received a tax break on that property under former Assessor Patricia Schwarz Core, and he continued to claim an exemption on the home even though he was renting it out to his partner in a gold-buying business, Yancie “Bubba” Moseley III.
In June, Assessor Louis Fitzmorris said Reed was applying to change his exemption.
Reed, who was beset this year by negative media coverage and investigations by a federal grand jury and the state Inspector General’s Office, announced in July that he would not seek a sixth term in office. Warren Montgomery, who beat Brian Trainor in a Dec. 6 runoff, will be sworn in as DA on Jan. 12.
What’s next for Reed — including where he plans to live — is uncertain, although he bought a condominium on Gravier Street in New Orleans’ Central Business District a year ago, paying $212,000, records show.
“Mr. Reed has been busy as he prepares to retire after proudly serving the people of St. Tammany and Washington parishes for the past 30 years in law enforcement as district attorney that has helped create two of the safest parishes in the state, and two of the most sought-after places to live in Louisiana,” his spokesman, Morgan Stewart, said in an email Friday. “He met with Warren Montgomery and his transition team, at Walter’s invitation, a week after the election to ensure that the transition is smooth and beneficial for the people of St. Tammany and Washington parishes. He also is preparing to enter the next phase of his life as a private citizen.”
Montgomery said on election night that he did not plan to clean house upon taking office. But a few days later, he said that after 30 years under the same DA, “it’s safe to assume that there will be changes.”
Some changes already have occurred. Harry Pastuszek Jr., a member of Reed’s inner circle, left the office at the end of September, according to Montgomery. That same month, he also sold his St. Tammany home, a condo in Covington, for $152,000. Pastuszek’s address is listed as Miramar Beach, Florida. Pastuszek could not be reached for comment at his Covington law office.
Pastuszek first came to the DA’s Office as Reed’s first assistant. He was among a group of favored staffers who benefited from a special retirement program set up by Reed.
Although he retired in 2013, Pastuszek continued to work as an assistant district attorney. His job since the early 1990s has been to provide legal representation for the St. Tammany Parish School Board. But since 1993, the School Board has paid Pastuszek’s private law firm directly rather than through the DA’s Office — a deal that Reed helped to broker and that has earned his friend’s firm hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s not clear whether Pastuszek’s firm is still doing that work. Montgomery said he would find out next week. School Board spokeswoman Meredith Mendez could not be reached for comment Friday.
The practice of using assistant district attorneys to represent governmental bodies is among the issues being scrutinized by a committee that is reviewing the parish charter. Tony LeMon, a member of Montgomery’s transition team, serves on that committee. While campaigning, Montgomery said he would be open to the changes that come out of that review.
Marcy L. Planer contributed to this report. Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.