NEW ROADS — New Roads Mayor Robert Myer was indicted Wednesday on multiple counts of malfeasance in office and a count of abuse of power on allegations he used a city-issued credit card for personal use and allowed the city's former finance director to personally use the card as well in exchange for sexual favors.
A warrant for Myer's arrest was issued immediately after the Pointe Coupee grand jury charged him with the crimes and a state district court judge set his bail at $50,000. Myer was arrested and released after posting a property bond.
Myer faces nine counts of malfeasance in office for allegedly using a city-issued credit card and not reimbursing the city during various intervals between 2011 and 2014. Myer has served as the mayor of New Roads since 2010.
Myer was the subject of a Louisiana Inspector General's Office's investigation that launched in Jan. 2015 after the mayor's use of a city-issued credit card was questioned by his opponent during his bid for re-election in 2014.
Subpoenas were sent out this week to several department heads and city councilmen with the c…
Myer's indictment did not include how much in charges the mayor rang up on the city credit card, but in monthly statements The Advocate reviewed previously for the same four-year period, Myer made nearly $134,000 in questionable charges.
One of the malfeasance counts against the mayor claims he told the city's former Finance Director Cherie Rockforte-Laviolette she did not have to pay back more than $9,000 in personal charges she rang up on the city's credit card in exchange for "personal favors, trips and sexual favors" between 2011 and 2014.
Myer's indictment states he also abused his authority as mayor through his agreement with Rockforte-Laviolette because it prevented her from properly doing her job as the city's finance director.
NEW ROADS — The use of city-issued credit cards was called into question again in New Roads …
The District Attorney's Office of the 18th Judicial District also presented a case against Rockforte-Laviolette before the grand jury Wednesday but the grand jury did not reach a decision in her case.
"That means that the grand jury did not indict her...yet," Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton said outside the Pointe Coupee Parish courthouse Wednesday afternoon. "In other words, it's still open and there could be several reasons why they're not charging her."
"The state requested that the charges be held in abeyance for her," Clayton added.
Myer is the second New Roads mayor to find himself in legal woes.
Former New Roads Mayor Tommy Nelson was convicted Wednesday in Baton Rouge on federal charge…
Former Mayor Tommy Nelson in 2011 was convicted on federal charges of racketeering, wire fraud, lying to investigators and the use of telephones in aid of racketeering.
Nelson was one of several mayors convicted as the result of the FBI sting known as Operation Blighted Officials. The sting also netted the convictions of ex-St. Gabriel Mayor George Grace, former White Castle Mayor Maurice Brown, ex-Port Allen Mayor Derek Lewis and other area municipal officials.
FBI agents testified that Nelson accepted more than $22,000 in cash and other gifts for his pledge of a municipal contract with a fictitious firm used by the FBI in its sting. He was sentenced in 2012 to 11 years in federal prison.
Myer defeated Nelson during a runoff election in Nov. 2010.
"This is a real comprehensive case," Clayton said about the current case against Myer. "I really don't want to comment on the evidence. We'll say what we have to in front of a jury."
According to the monthly credit card statements The Advocate reviewed for 2011-2014, Myer charged nearly $1,700 for dinners and movie tickets. Restaurant charges included a $252 charge to Chophouse New Orleans on New Year’s Day in 2012; a $178 meal at McCormick and Schmick’s in D.C. on March 12, 2014; and a $72 charge at Ichiban Sushi in Baton Rouge on Oct. 2, 2011.
Myer also rang up travel expenses during that time which included a $790 charge to Loew’s Hotel in New Orleans for a two-night stay over the New Year’s holiday in 2012.
Much of his credit card use lacked itemized receipts tracking how taxpayers' money was spent, which is required by state law and pointed out by auditors in several yearly reviews of the city's financial records.
During a November 2014 interview, Myer said he originally thought it was permissible to use a city credit card for personal expenses as long as he later reimbursed the city. After auditors were critical of that practice, he said he changed city policies.