Kim Kelly, who was in charge of finances at the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office while her boss was helping himself to public funds, entered a plea of not guilty in 22nd Judicial District Court on Monday to two counts of being a principal to theft over $1,500.
Kelly, the former chief financial officer under Coroner Peter Galvan, appeared in the courtroom but did not speak. Her attorney, Vincent Wynne, told Judge August Hand that his client was pleading not guilty.
Kelly is the last person to be arraigned on state charges that grew out of the 2013 federal case that sent Galvan to prison for two years.
She and Mark Lombard, Galvan’s former chief death investigator, were both indicted on felony theft charges by a St. Tammany grand jury in March. Lombard was arraigned last month and pleaded not guilty.
Galvan pleaded guilty last fall to state theft charges, adding an additional year of prison time and $350,000 in restitution to the city of Slidell to his two-year federal sentence.
But while Galvan made plea agreements, his two former employees apparently are headed for trial.
Lombard’s trial date is set for June 15 in Judge William Burris’ court, and Kelly’s is set for the same day in Judge Raymond Childress’ court.
Assistant Attorney General Butch Wilson, who is prosecuting the cases, said it is possible that the defendants’ connection with the Coroner’s Office will lead the judges to recuse themselves.
Both Kelly and Lombard were described but not named in the federal bill of information that charged Galvan with conspiracy to steal public funds.
Kelly was described as “Individual A,’’ the person who helped the coroner receive cash payouts and annual sick leave to which he was not entitled. Lombard, described as “Individual B,’’ was the public employee who did work for the Slidell jail under a contract with Galvan’s private medical practice.
Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell said at the time of the indictment that Kelly was involved in payouts of leave that involved other high-level employees as well as Galvan, and that ran into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One of the theft counts, lodged jointly against Kelly and Lombard, accuses them of aiding Galvan and covers his use of office funds for personal spending.
Kelly, who testified before the federal grand jury that indicted Galvan, resigned about six months before charges were brought against him.
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