Two former employees of the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office who figured in the federal case against former Coroner Peter Galvan were indicted by a St. Tammany Parish grand jury Tuesday on state charges brought by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.
Kim Kelly, who was chief financial officer for the office under Galvan, and Mark Lombard, who was the chief death investigator for the office, each were charged with two counts of being a principal to felony theft over $1,500.
The grand jury presented the charges in 22nd Judicial District Court late Tuesday afternoon. Judge August Hand set bail for each defendant at $25,000.
Kelly and Lombard were both described, but not named, in the federal court documents charging Galvan in 2013. The bill of information against Galvan described Individual A — clearly Kelly — as enabling Galvan to receive cash payouts of $111,736 in annual leave and sick leave from 2008 to 2010 to which he was not entitled. It described Individual B — Lombard — as a person who did work for the Slidell jail under a contract with Galvan’s private medical practice.
The two were not indicted in that case. Galvan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal public funds in federal court in October 2013. He is serving a two-year sentence on the federal charges in a prison in Pollock. He was later indicted on state charges, to which he pleaded guilty in September. He will have to serve an additional year in prison on those charges.
Kelly, as CFO, was involved in the payouts for leave, which Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell said involved other high-level employees at a cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Lombard was the employee who provided medical services to the Slidell jail under Galvan’s private contract while he was a public employee paid by the Coroner’s Office. That contract, according to a federal bill of information, brought $50,000 to Galvan’s private practice.
The state case is apparently based on the FBI investigation that brought down Galvan; the bureau issued a news release Tuesday announcing the state charges. Public corruption cases investigated by the FBI are usually prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as Galvan was.
The fact the state Attorney General’s Office is handling the matter suggests that federal prosecutors opted to take a pass on charges against Kelly and Lombard.
While the documents charging the coroner outlined just $50,000 going into Galvan’s private account through the jail contract, Caldwell said the unusual arrangement actually netted Galvan $400,000.
He said Lombard was not medically qualified to administer the services but did so anyway, enriching Galvan and receiving pay raises “commensurate with that responsibility.”
Kelly and Lombard also were jointly charged with another count of being principals to theft over $1,500 for allegedly aiding and abetting theft by fraud committed by Galvan. Caldwell said that count covers Galvan’s use of office funds for personal spending, including purchases of fuel and a GPS unit.
“We’re aware of the allegations,” said Brian Capitelli, who along with his father represents Lombard. “I haven’t had an opportunity to review the indictment, but we are prepared to fully defend Mark Lombard.”
Kelly’s attorney, Vincent Wynne, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
If the case ends up going to trial, Galvan might be called to testify, Caldwell said.
Kelly, who testified before the grand jury investigating Galvan, resigned abruptly about six months before charges were brought against her boss. Lombard resigned from the Coroner’s Office the same day as Galvan.
Caldwell said the attorney general initially went after Galvan, whom he called the “head of the hydra.” By doing so, he said, the office was able to get additional restitution from Galvan for the city of Slidell.
As for Kelly and Lombard, Caldwell described them as high-level employees who should have known better. “There’s another message here: If you are in this office and you see something that you know is wrong, you can’t turn your head intentionally,” he said.
Kelly was a licensed CPA, he said, and had ethical obligations related to some of the expenses.
“I just think the tide is turning, and we can’t put up with that sort of thing,” he said.
Caldwell was also in court Tuesday for the indictment of Richard Reed, the brother of former District Attorney Walter Reed, who was charged with sexual battery, second-degree kidnapping, impeding a witness and intimidating a police officer.
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