New Orleans police Cmdr. Edwin Hosli, a longtime friend of Superintendent Ronal Serpas who withstood major controversy in 2011 when it came to light that he ran an outfit employing off-duty police officers to review traffic-camera tickets for the city, is heading on down the road.
Or at least down the block.
Hosli, a 33-year NOPD veteran, on Friday announced his retirement from the police force and a new job with Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office. The move, first reported Friday by the Uptown Messenger, had been rumored for months.
Philip Stelly, a spokesman for Gusman’s office, confirmed the hire, saying Hosli will take command of the sheriff’s Special Operations Division, replacing Col. Michael Laughlin.
Hired as a cop in 1981, seven months after Serpas, Hosli is now three years removed from being the subject of a joint investigation by the FBI and the New Orleans Inspector General’s Office into Anytime Solutions, a firm Hosli launched in 2010 to funnel payments to himself and other officers for reviewing tickets issued under the city’s widely reviled traffic-camera program.
Among the employees of Anytime Solutions were Serpas’ driver and his son-in-law. Serpas denied helping Hosli get the city contract, and IG Ed Quatrevaux released a letter to the public saying he had found no evidence that Serpas played a role.
Hosli, at the time the commander of the 8th District — covering the French Quarter and Central Business District — argued that top city officials knew of the arrangement, which violated an NOPD policy that barred cops from setting up businesses to run police details.
But Mayor Mitch Landrieu suspended Hosli anyway, saying he had abused his position when he formed Anytime Solutions. He also was banned from police detail work for several months.
Quatrevaux’s office last year confirmed that Hosli and former Director of Public Works Robert Mendoza broke city rules in making the arrangement with Anytime Solutions.
Meanwhile, Serpas was moving forward with a plan to shift management of the police moonlighting work inside City Hall — a change also demanded in a federal consent decree that Landrieu signed in 2012. Under the new rules, police can’t work details for city departments.
Federal and state prosecutors declined to pursue a case against Hosli, who was suspended over the flap in 2011. Following a civil service settlement, Hosli was reinstated last year to active duty and assigned to oversee the NOPD’s Management Services Bureau. That unit runs the NOPD’s records office, fleet management and other, slightly less glamorous functions than French Quarter crime-fighting.
Hosli also was reprimanded in 2011 for claiming two homestead exemptions. He agreed to pay back the money he had improperly saved and chalked it up to an honest mistake as a result of a divorce filing.
“It’s been a wonderful ride,” Hosli said Friday, according to the Uptown Messenger. “There’s been some ups and downs, but it’s been good. The department’s been good to me and to my family.”
Specialized Investigations Unit Commander Henry Dean will take over the Management Services Bureau, and Serpas promoted 6th District Lt. Frank Young to Dean’s former post.
The Sheriff’s Office unit that Hosli will command is charged with investigating a variety of allegations against inmates and, at times, deputies.
According to Gusman, the division was home to a safe that for years concealed videos shot by inmates in 2009 showing them cavorting inside the now-shuttered House of Detention with narcotics, beer, pills, cash, dice and a gun. The videos have become symbolic of what critics call a dysfunctional and dangerous jail complex.
Gusman names new compliance officer
Sheriff Marlin Gusman announced Wednesday that lawyer and activist Tracie Washington will serve as the sheriff’s compliance officer, a new position that Gusman was required to create under the terms of a federal consent decree requiring various reforms at the city’s jail.
Washington, no stranger to controversy, will act as a “liaison” between the Sheriff’s Office and the independent monitor hired by the federal court to ensure the required reforms are being carried out. Her duties will include making sure documents and records are maintained, Gusman said in a news release.
She was part of a committee named last year to help choose an administrator for the jail, another new position the consent decree mandated.
Gusman had agreed to fill the compliance position by June 1.
Washington will be paid $80,000 a year, according to a spokesman for Gusman.
Washington, who briefly served as general counsel to the Orleans Parish School Board and is president of an advocacy group called the Louisiana Justice Institute, has been something of a lightning rod at times. She tangled bitterly and publicly with members of the City Council, in particular Councilwoman Stacy Head, over the council’s decision to demolish and redevelop the so-called “Big Four” public housing complexes.
Later, the Louisiana Justice Institute obtained copies of thousands of emails sent and received by council members, selectively publishing some of them, starting with several embarrassing emails sent by Head. The council sued Washington to block the further release of emails.
Gusman has often quarreled with the council and the Landrieu administration as well, sparring over how large the new jail now being constructed should be and how much funding he needs to run a constitutional jail, among other issues.
In a statement, Gusman praised Washington for having “a proven track record of building strong relationships and fostering civic engagement among a wide range of groups.”
Compiled by John Simerman and Gordon Russell