CPERS: The Real Reason Arceneaux is Blocking Depositions Under Oath?

September 21 , 2016

The theft of taxpayer money by Caddo Parish Commissioners in their CPERS (Caddo Parish Employee Retirement System) scam is again at full and awful boil. The culprits are led by local lawyer Tom Arceneaux.

Along with two other lawyers, one of whom is an Arceneaux law partner, three local lawyers have taken over $125,000 in Caddo taxpayer money to fight my lawsuit against serial self-pay fraud by Caddo Commissioners.

(Previous articles on these subjects back to late-2014 are posted on RealShreveport.com by clicking on “News,” then “Caddo Commisson Scandal.”)

Now, Arceneaux has again and for the last time refused the depositions under oath of any Caddo Parish Commission defendants. In his letter yesterday, Arceneaux for the first times writes to specifically reject depositions guaranteed under law in any such lawsuit by any person:

“As I stated in the letter, I do not believe any depositions are necessary.”

In a months-long battle, Arceneaux wrote the letter to which he refers, addressed to Whitney Pesnell, on August 24, 2016. Now, in his yesterday letter, he confirms and doubles-down on the deposition prohibition.

Whitney Pesnell, working pro bono as am I, filed my lawsuit against Commissioners and the Commission in March 2015. We filed the lawsuit to recover some $300,000 in unquestionably illegal CPERS payments to Commissioners, plus untold other sums in illegal salary pay back to 1993.

The stunning refusal in writing by Arceneaux to do that which the law dictates perfectly tracks the history of this lawsuit. Arceneaux’s imperiousness in “running” the lawsuit and Court has been unlike anything either Mr. Pesnell or I have previously seen or experienced. Clearly, from a political standpoint, Arceneaux believes he is above the law in this instance … and acts accordingly.

Equally reprehensible has been the supposed-to-be-secret involvement in the lawsuit from the very beginning by former Caddo Commissioner Stephanie Lynch, now a Shreveport City Council member. Lynch has, over time, taken more CPERS money from Caddo Parish taxpayers than any other recipient. Likewise, she maintains a multi-thousand dollar debt to the Louisiana Ethics Administration for refusing to file campaign finance reports.

I have objected to Lynch’s involvement in this lawsuit, in writing, to a significant list of local, state and federal law enforcement and other officials.

Importantly, the evidence necessary for direct and open action against Ms. Lynch – and the lawyers with whom she has conspired – necessarily requires testimony under oath. Depositions in my lawsuit would be the first necessary step in that process, and in recovering taxpayer money lost to the underlying fraud.

In addition, depositions would provide the opening to determine which specific Commissioners and Commission employees criminally conspired in both 2000 and 2005 to (a) grant retirement benefits to themselves which had been explicitly prohibited by Louisiana law and the Constitution since January 1, 1997, and (b) rig the retirement benefit calculation as necessary to increase the taxpayer “match” rate to as high in some years as 16.75%.

Arceneaux’s phobia against routine legal discovery in my lawsuit cannot be fairly viewed as anything other than directly linked to possible criminal referrals in the Commission self-pay fraud. Only with such legal discovery can Commissioners who are, or are not, complicit in this fraud be identified.

For the record, Arceneaux, represented the Caddo Commission in a directly related lawsuit which ended just before CPERS for Commissioners was voted into parish law. In that suit, the Louisiana Parochial Employees Retirement System (PERS) sued to block the Commission from establishing CPERS.

Elliott Stonecipher


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