Warren Montgomery, who was sworn in last week as the district attorney for St. Tammany and Washington parishes, has handed out his first pink slips, firing three staff members who worked for his longtime predecessor, Walter Reed.
Montgomery confirmed Monday that Sam Gebbia, Edsel Jones and Brent Jones have been terminated.
“Their duties will be redistributed to other personnel,” Montgomery said in a text message. “There have been, and will continue to be, changes in policies, procedures and personnel to better serve the public.”
Edsel Jones was on the personnel roster as Reed’s executive assistant. “I have no comment on what his actual duties were,’’ Montgomery said.
Brent Jones was the supervisor for the office’s nonsupport and juvenile divisions. He was not an attorney, although Montgomery said both assistant district attorneys and investigators worked under him.
Although Montgomery didn’t cite it as a reason, Gebbia, who served as a division director and investigator in the DA’s Office, was involved in the case against Reginald Adams, who was released in May after spending 34 years in jail for his purported role in the murder of a New Orleans police officer’s wife.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said at the time of Adams’ release that Gebbia, who was a New Orleans cop at the time, had http://theadvocate.com/news/neworleans/9165644-148/tammany-da-reviewing-perjury-accusation://">lied under oath in the first of Adams’ two murder trials.
Gebbia also was one of two investigators with Reed’s office involved in a http://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/topics/hottopics/9560755-171/theft-investigation-raises-questions-about/">questionable case that began with a woman’s complaint about missing equipment and damage to property. In that case, Gebbia and Louis Dabdoub, Reed’s chief investigator, took a statement from landlord Barbara Marullo after her husband called the DA’s Office. Marullo’s husband was an old friend of Dabdoub.
Prosecutors wound up charging the tenant, Ricky Cambre, based on sworn affidavits filed by Gebbia and Dabdoub that alleged Cambre had admitted to his landlord that he stole the equipment. But Marullo later disavowed the investigators’ assertions, and the case fell apart.
That episode raised questions about whether the threat of criminal prosecution was being used to bring pressure to bear in a civil case. Cambre is seeking a settlement for malicious prosecution.
Dabdoub resigned before Montgomery took office.
For a time, it appeared that Gebbia might be let go by Reed, based on the alleged perjury in the Adams case. Reed said in a statement in the summer that he had been in contact with Cannizzaro for more information about Gebbia’s actions.
“It is troubling to learn of any wrongful conviction, and we are reviewing the matter,” Reed said.
That was Reed’s last public statement on the matter, and Gebbia remained employed until Reed left office this month.
With a new administration coming in after 30 years with Reed at the helm, personnel changes were widely expected, and a number of longtime members of the office have left of their own accord.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Montalbano — who has a private law practice with Brian Trainor, who lost to Montgomery in the Dec. 6 runoff for DA — resigned recently. Houston C. “Hammy” Gascon, Reed’s longtime first assistant, left when his boss did.
http://theadvocate.com/news/neworleans/11276061-148/incoming-tammany-da-hires-2/">Bart Pepperman, who headed the office’s diversion program, resigned after Montgomery was elected. And Harry Pastuszek, a former first assistant to Reed who had a lucrative job representing the St. Tammany Parish School Board, resigned at the end of September.
Reed, who is under the cloud of a federal grand jury probe, announced in July that he would not seek a sixth term.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.