A top deputy to Attorney General Jeff Landry returned to work Tuesday after an investigation that found he "engaged in inappropriate verbal conversations" that included sexual slang and "unprofessional comments regarding the appearance of employees."
Pat Magee, the head of the office's criminal division, had been under investigation for several weeks starting in December after a complaint was filed against him. Landry's office had released few details about the probe, and repeatedly declined to specify the type of complaint filed against Magee until Tuesday, when The Advocate inquired about Magee having returned to the office.
Several hours later, Landry's office released a letter dated Jan. 19 that laid out two disciplinary actions. Magee was ordered to serve a 38-day suspension without pay, but the letter specifies that he is still required to go to work during that time with a salary-reduction equivalent of 38 days of unpaid leave. The letter says he will lose $20,559 of his annual salary of approximately $140,000.
The letter also says that Magee is required to take training courses to help him develop "emotional intelligence, professionalism in the workplace, conflict management and leadership skills."
Magee's management style was also at issue in the investigation, according to the letter. It says that Magee was prone to outbursts, often used profanity and frequently made references to firing employees.
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The investigation concluded that Magee's behavior was "believed to have been joking in nature," but that it made others uncomfortable and offended.
"There were no allegations nor findings of any requests for sexual favors; inappropriate workplace touching; nor sexual overtures," the letter reads.
Landry spokesman Cory Dennis told The Advocate on Tuesday morning that the investigation into Magee was still incomplete and "in its final stages." But when a reporter called Magee's office on Tuesday, a receptionist said he had been at work that day and would return after a lunch break. Magee did not return a phone message.
Asked why Magee was back at his post if the investigation wasn't complete, Dennis said Magee had returned to the office Tuesday solely to discuss the outcome of the probe with the office's human resources department. But Dennis said he could not provide any more information.
“What transpired before or after that, I cannot speak to that," Dennis said. A couple hours later, the office released the letter laying out Magee's discipline.
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Landry's office hired Vicki Crochet of the law firm Taylor Porter to conduct the investigation into Magee last month, according to a contract The Advocate received through a public records request. Landry's office requested that Crochet conduct an administrative investigation and prepare a written report detailing its outcome, the contract says.
Landry's office agreed to pay Crochet $225 an hour, with the total bill not to exceed $20,000. It wasn't clear Tuesday how much the investigation wound up costing.
Crochet specializes in employment law, and Gov. John Bel Edwards hired her in 2017 to represent the state in a sexual harassment case involving his former deputy chief of staff Johnny Anderson. The state settled that case in 2018, agreeing to pay $51,000 to the woman who accused Anderson of harassment and $34,000 to the woman's attorney. The state paid $22,995 to Crochet for her work on that case.
Landry criticized Edwards' handling of the Anderson case at the time and he also promised to take a hard line stance — including firing employees — if similar harassment were to ever occur in his office. When the Louisiana Legislative Auditor compiled statistics of sexual harassment in state government offices, Landry refused to participate.
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"Just because the Governor appointed a habitual sexual harasser as his Deputy Chief of Staff, it does not mean our office needs to spend countless hours and precious resources scouring employment records," Landry told The Times-Picayune in 2018.
"My office takes all complaints of employee misconduct seriously," Landry added. "And we utilize our authority to terminate employment with people who engage in such behavior."
Magee, a recent member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors, took over as head of the AG's criminal division in 2018. Like Landry, Magee hails from the Lafayette area. The two met when they attended Southern University Law School together. Magee's term on the Southern board ended in December.
Magee is the first-ever Black director of the criminal division of the Office of the Attorney General.
Staff writer Sam Karlin contributed to this report.
Editor's note: This story was updated to note that Magee's term on the Southern Board of Supervisors expired at the end of 2020.