St. Landry DA seeks school board member’s removal

St. Landry Parish District Attorney Earl Taylor on Thursday filed a petition to remove School Board member Quincy Richard Sr. from office for a 2004 felony conviction.

The move comes as Richard faces an unrelated federal bribery charge for allegedly asking a candidate for superintendent to pay $5,000 to secure Richard’s vote of support.

The petition filed Thursday is based on Richard’s 2004 plea to a charge of filing false records in an investigation into the buying of grades and degrees at Southern University.

Taylor argues in the removal petition that Richard does not have the required governor’s pardon required to hold public office.

Richard was a School Board member at the time of his 2004 conviction and stepped down from that office as part of his plea agreement, which also called for two years probation and 100 hours of community service.

Richard regained the School Board seat in a 2006 election and was re-elected in 2010.

The state constitution prohibits a convicted felon from running for public office unless he has been granted a governor’s pardon or unless 15 years have passed since the completion of the sentence.

But under state law, the enforcement of that prohibition is not automatic and depends on someone formally challenging a candidate’s fitness for office. No one had raised the issue of Richard’s conviction until earlier this year.

Taylor began investigating the issue after someone filed a complaint with his office last month against Richard.

Richard said in an earlier interview that he had the 2004 charge expunged from his record and believed that cleared the way for him to run for and hold office again.

He declined comment Thursday when asked about Taylor’s decision to move forward with the removal petition.

Richard’s 2004 plea to filing false public records came in a wide-ranging investigation into grade- and degree-buying at Southern University.

Richard’s wife, at his urging, paid a Southern University official $1,500 for a fake transcript that showed she had obtained a master’s degree needed for teacher’s certification, according to news reports at the time.

In the recent federal case, Richard and fellow board member John Miller are accused of asking superintendent candidate Joseph Cassimere for $5,000 each last year in return for their votes to give him the job.

Cassimere had been cooperating with federal agents and met the two board members in September for an exchange of cash that was videotaped and audiotaped by FBI agents, according to the court filings from prosecutors.

A federal grand jury in October indicted the two board members on bribery counts.

Neither Richard nor Miller stepped down from the board after the federal indictment.

Both men have pleaded not guilty, and a trial in the case is scheduled for Aug. 19.

No court hearing has been set on the petition filed Thursday to remove Richard from office, but Taylor said his office will ask for an expedited hearing.

“We just think it’s important to bring this matter to a head as soon as possible,” Taylor said.