School Board chief pleaded no contest, gets 2-year probation
“Why he didn’t stop, we still don’t know. He never said I’m sorry to me or his momma or his brother. The lowest thing you can do is take somebody’s child away from them. He could at least apologize.” Bill Iasigi, the father of the victim, 21-year-old William “Cody” Iasigi
GREENSBURG — Family members of a man killed in St. Helena Parish in a June 15 crash involving Livingston Parish School Board President Malcolm Sibley expressed anger Friday after a judge sentenced Sibley to probation and a $500 fine for the accident.
Judge Bob Morrison, of the 21st Judicial District, gave Sibley a 90-day jail term but suspended it in favor of two years of probation after Sibley pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of hit-and-run. Morrison also ordered Sibley to pay the $500 fine and perform 32 hours of community service.
Sibley is due back in court June 20 for monitoring.
Bill Iasigi, the father of the victim, 21-year-old William “Cody” Iasigi of Liberty, Miss., called the light sentence a “miscarriage of justice.”
Iasigi, who appeared tired and frustrated outside the St. Helena Parish Courthouse in Greensburg, said he wanted the case to go to a jury trial so the public could hear Sibley’s reasoning for not stopping.
“Why he didn’t stop, we still don’t know,” Iasigi said. “He never said I’m sorry to me or his momma or his brother. The lowest thing you can do is take somebody’s child away from them. He could at least apologize.”
Iasigi’s family has voiced outrage over Sibley’s case ever since a St. Helena Parish grand jury indicted Sibley on a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge instead of the felony count he was booked on.
Sherman Mack, Sibley’s attorney, said he thought the sentence was fair given the misdemeanor charge. He said Sibley pleaded no contest because State Police found he was not at fault in the crash.
Sibley has not spoken to the Iasigi family because of the ongoing litigation, Mack said.
Mack said he was unsure whether Sibley would offer a direct apology following the sentence, considering the Iasigi family has filed a lawsuit against Sibley seeking damages.
The lawsuit, filed in October, is still pending in court.
Mack said he hoped the end of the criminal case would bring Iasigi’s family closure.
“If we could say something or do something to ease their grieving, we would do it. I don’t think that’s possible,” Mack said. “It’s a remorseful situation, and we can’t even begin to tell you how they feel because we just don’t know.”
Sibley, 66, of Weiss Road, Walker, had planned on making his plea Nov. 8. Judge Elizabeth Wolfe, who handled the docket that day, delayed the case to February so Morrison, the judge assigned to Sibley’s case, could take the plea.
Sibley, wearing the same maroon button-down shirt he wore to his November court appearance, hardly said a word inside and outside the courthouse Friday. He did not speak in the courtroom when making his plea.
Kurt Wall, the prosecutor from the state Attorney General’s Office, told Morrison the state objected to Sibley’s no-contest plea.
Wall said in a statement after the proceedings that prosecutors wanted Sibley to admit guilt in open court because of the “tragic circumstances of this case.”
Bill Iasigi, as well as the victim’s mother, Jan Wall Iasigi, voiced their ire to Morrison before the judge handed down his sentence.
“I just feel like Mr. Sibley is getting off mighty easily after he killed my son,” Bill Iasigi said in court.
Jan Iasigi walked up to the podium, looked right at Sibley and said, “I hope in the days ahead that you’re ready in your conscience.”
Morrison told the parents that he understood their pain but that he was sentencing Sibley in accordance with the misdemeanor charge. He also noted that Sibley has no prior criminal history.
Sibley’s no-contest plea means he is not admitting guilt but will not contest the hit-and-run charge.
It has the same effect as a guilty plea in criminal court, and Louisiana law still considers a no-contest plea as a conviction if a sentence is imposed. But it can’t be used as an admission of guilt in civil court.
Cody Iasigi was driving on La. 43 near the parish Police Jury building when he and his rear-seat passenger, Thomas Bailey, began arguing, State Police have said.
Iasigi pulled over the white 2008 Chevrolet Silverado pickup he was driving. Bailey got out and began walking south on the road, but Iasigi made a U-turn and stopped in the southbound lane. Iasigi exited the vehicle and stood next to it, leaving the driver’s door open. That’s when Sibley’s northbound truck reportedly hit him, and Sibley drove off and did not stop.
Sibley later admitted to being the hit-and-run driver after troopers approached him at his home the following day. He was booked into the St. Helena Parish Jail on one count of felony hit-and-run and given a $500 bail.
Mack has said Sibley thought he hit a deer or metal object and did not see a person in the roadway.
Sibley, a Democrat from Walker, won his first election to the School Board in 1994. He lost his seat in 2006 but regained it in 2010.
He represents Doyle High, Doyle Elementary, Frost School, North Corbin Elementary, North Corbin Junior High and half of Holden.
Sibley has only missed one board meeting since his arrest. He has not said if he intends to seek re-election later this year when his term expires.
Mack said Friday he has not spoken to Sibley about a possible re-election bid.
The Louisiana Election Code prevents anyone convicted of a felony from running for public office. In Sibley’s case, his no-contest plea in a misdemeanor case is not a factor.
Board members have lauded Sibley’s time as a School Board member, though they have largely shied away from talking about his criminal case. The board unanimously voted Jan. 16 to rename Sibley as board president for 2014.
Sibley was on his way to see his purported girlfriend, Charlotte Frazier, of Kentwood, when he hit and killed Iasigi, according to a State Police report on the crash.
Sibley has been married to the former Johnice Diane Duffy since 1967. They have three children.
Mack has repeatedly said his client was driving around for work related to his timber company at the time of the crash. He has said Frazier’s identity is irrelevant to the accident.
Iasigi’s blood-alcohol content level was 0.22 percent, or nearly three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving, at the time of the crash, according to a State Police blood analysis.
Sibley turned himself in more than 24 hours after the accident and was not given a blood-alcohol test.
The state Attorney General’s Office in July began investigating the crash at the request of 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, who said he chose to recuse his office from the case because Sibley’s daughter LeAnn at one time worked at his office.