Lawyers face off over Slaughter asset transfer

Ralph Slaughter
Ralph Slaughter

An attorney for the Southern University System Foundation asked a judge Wednesday to revoke former Southern System President Ralph Slaughter’s transfer of his estate to his wife, which the private foundation claims Slaughter did to avoid paying it a court-ordered $475,000.

“Dr. Slaughter transferred all his assets to his wife while our claim was pending,” foundation attorney Gene Groves told state District Judge Tim Kelley.

Slaughter’s attorney, John McLindon, countered that the asset transfer was part of an East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court-approved separation of property agreement between the Slaughters.

Slaughter and his wife attended Wednesday’s hearing at the 19th Judicial District Courthouse, but because Shalonda Denise Slaughter showed up without a lawyer, Kelley decided to resume the matter June 27.

“I’m not going to continue anything because you don’t have an attorney on that date,” the judge cautioned her.

Foundation attorney Preston Castille Jr., who said after court the foundation is “getting closer to being able to collect on our judgment,” called Ralph Slaughter’s asset transfer a “classic tactic to defraud creditors.”

“It was wrong. It shouldn’t have happened. It was a fraudulent transfer,” he said outside the courthouse. “It’s appropriate to undo what was done.”

McLindon painted a vastly different picture for reporters.

“Dr. Slaughter and his wife have six young children. They have personal reasons for how they want to handle their estate,” he said.

The foundation — the university’s private fundraising arm — sued Slaughter in late 2009, claiming he received $400,000 in salary supplements without foundation board approval, although the Southern Board of Supervisors authorized the payments as the result of a 2007 settlement of a Slaughter lawsuit against Southern.

The foundation’s board of directors never approved the salary supplement payments, foundation attorneys argue, and the foundation was not a party to Slaughter’s employment contract.

Kelley, in rulings last summer on July 31 and Aug. 13, ordered Slaughter to repay a combined $475,000 to the foundation.

The Slaughters, who married in 2000, filed a petition Aug. 15 in Family Court to terminate their community property regime and enter into a separation of property agreement. Retired Family Court Judge Luke LaVergne approved the request Aug. 20.

“I can see how somebody would say the timing is bad,” McLindon said of the property separation agreement.

Slaughter transferred to his wife a home, furniture, vehicles, jewelry, personal effects, and a share of his retirement income from the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System, according to the Family Court petition.

Castille said the home in the Stratford subdivision has been appraised at $1.2 million.

Slaughter is appealing the rulings Kelley made last summer. The judge ordered him to repay the foundation $400,000 in combined salary supplements for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, plus $75,000 in foundation money that Slaughter used to pay a lawyer after he sued Southern over his dismissal.

Southern’s Board of Supervisors voted in March 2009 for Slaughter to vacate his job when his two-year contract expired at the end of June of that year. Slaughter is suing the board in state and federal courts for retaliation and wrongful termination.