Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s chief deputy, Gerald “Jerry” Ursin, resigned Monday amid a state and federal inquiry into off-duty deputy details that has shaken the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Ursin, a longtime lawman who once served as second-in-command of the New Orleans Police Department, is expected to be charged in the coming days in an FBI investigation that already has yielded charges against Roy Austin, a former Sheriff’s Office colonel.
Austin and Ursin are accused of billing local businesses for security details that deputies never actually worked, usually at major special events like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Ursin’s resignation came only hours after the state Legislative Auditor’s Office released a report that strongly suggested the chief deputy and other Sheriff’s Office employees had broken the law by assisting Austin in his coordination of the details through his private company, Austin Sales and Service. The auditors found that Austin, Ursin and two other Sheriff’s Office employees, Gary Bordelon and Rynika Stewart, “used OPSO computers and other equipment during their regular work hours to arrange, coordinate, and invoice off-duty details while working their regular OPSO schedules.”
“Although state law allows deputies to perform private security work while not on official duty, state law prohibits a deputy sheriff from holding an ownership interest in any partnership, company, or corporation where the venture is to perform any services of a law enforcement nature,” the audit said.
Ursin’s defense attorney, Pat Fanning, declined to comment on the reasons for Ursin’s resignation. “It is what it is,” Fanning said by phone. “He resigned effective today.”
While he enjoyed Gusman’s support, Ursin had been viewed as a divisive figure within the Sheriff’s Office by many of his subordinates, including Carmen DeSadier, who recently resigned as the ranking deputy over the city’s jail amid a power struggle with Ursin.
“His abrasive tactics, questionable practices and bullying of personnel who attempt to work with me has created an atmosphere of fear and disdain,” DeSadier wrote in her Feb. 19 resignation letter. “This agency would be better served without his contemptuous influence.”
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