Taffaro suing Peralta for $2.75 million

Nov 16th, 2012 | By | Category: News

Charging that the Oct. 23 seizure of records at his storage unit was “the culmination of a pattern of harassment” and “civil rights violations”, former Parish President Craig Taffaro filed suit against current Parish President Dave Peralta last week, seeking $2.75 million in damages.

Taffaro became parish president on Jan. 8, 2008, at which time Peralta was his Chief Administrative Officer. Peralta operated as CAO until October of that year, when Taffaro fired him. Taffaro’s suit states that Peralta was fired “for insubordination and dereliction of duties,” which was the catalyst for the alleged “pattern of harassment.”

After a bitter campaign for re-election Taffaro lost to Peralta in 2011 and soon after was appointed by Governor Bobby Jindal to be the Director of the State Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Recovery
Coordination.

There are several other parties listed in the suit, including Director of Recovery Donald Bourgeois and the anonymous email address, policeofficer123@ ymail.com, which alerted the media and Taffaro’s employer
of what was called “a raid” on his storage unit. The suit claims the email alias is operated by Bourgeois,
as the information to media outlets and Taffaro’s employer parallel’s Bourgeois’ public complaints
and accusations against Taffaro. Taffaro cites a June 2011 Louisiana Board of Ethics complaint filed by
Bourgeois that sought to have Taffaro removed from office for ethics violations, “which bore substantial
similarity to the accusations made by policeofficer123@ymail.com on October 24, 2012.”

The suit goes on to say that in the event the anonymous email address is not Bourgeois, Taffaro can
amend his complaint. Additional parties include Sgt. Jarrod Gourgues, a Sheriff’s office employee
assigned to parish government; Parish Attorney William McGoey; Director and Chief Compliance Inspector
of the Department of Resident Services Clay Dillon; and Director of Recreation, Culture and Tourism Craig
DeHarde.

Taffaro’s suit claims that the warrant obtained to conduct the search was done under false pretenses and
therefore violated Taffaro’s Fourth Amendment right, which protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. It also states that Gourgues’ search and seizure was not authorized by Sheriff James Pohlmann.

As far as McGoey’s connection, the suit says that McGoey communicated with Taffaro about documents
related to the Department of Justice lawsuit, under the guise that the conversation was confidential.
The suit alleges that McGoey violated that confidentiality by informing Gorgues that Taffaro was in possession of sensitive government documents— information that Gourgues used to obtain the search
warrant.

“McGoey communicated with Taffaro in connection with discovery in the DOJ litigation, and was doing so
in a privileged setting creating a confidentiality which he violated by providing false information that Gourgues used to obtain the warrant and implicate Taffaro,” the suit states.

In the Sheriff’s Crime Report filed by Gourgues, Dillon was listed as having gone to the storage facility
with him, where the two “interrogated” the manager and requested that she identify Taffaro’s locked storage
unit, which was unlocked by Dillion. The manager stated that her personal storage unit contained
three of Taffaro’s boxes from a previous move. The suit says that the three boxes were searched by
Dillon and Gourgues and then transported to the parish government complex; and that Dillion “expressed animus toward Taffaro for not promoting him to the position he was given in the Peralta administration.”

DeHarde was also identified in the crime report as entering the unit with Gourgues and Dillon. The suit
states that under the Taffaro administration, DeHarde was a field supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department, but when Peralta took office he was promoted to Director despite not meeting the charter-mandated higher requirements for the position: a bachelor’s degree in recreation administration, public administration, or a related field from an accredited college or university.

Peralta issued the following statement on Nov. 9: “In response to the inquiry regarding litigation filed
by Craig Taffaro, I have not been served with any lawsuit and thus cannot comment on it at this time.”

Sheriff Pohlmann confirmed that since the Oct. 23 records seizure, Sgt. Gourgues has been reassigned
from parish government detail to the traffic division.

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