St. Landry School Board fills vacant seat

A businessman pledging to bring honesty and integrity to the St. Landry Parish school district was selected Thursday to serve as an interim replacement for a board member who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a federal bribery charge.

The board chose Faltery Jolivette 7-3 to fill the District 3 seat that became vacant July 1 when longtime board member John Miller pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge.

As part of his guilty plea, Miller, 72, agreed to resign his School Board position and cooperate with federal prosecutors.

Miller and board member Quincy Richard Sr. were both indicted by a federal grand jury for accepting $5,000 bribes from Joseph Cassimere, who was seeking the school superintendent’s position.

Cassimere met with the two men Sept. 24 at the Quarters Restaurant and Casino, north of Opelousas, where the exchange of cash took place, according to the indictment.

The transaction was captured on video by federal authorities before Miller and Richard were confronted by FBI agents.

Richard, who has pleaded innocent to the bribery charge, attended Thursday’s meeting and voted for Frances Leday, one of five candidates considered for Miller’s vacant position.

State District Judge James A. Doherty Jr. ordered Richard in June to immediately vacate his District 10 seat after Doherty determined Richard was ineligible to hold public office.

Doherty’s ruling found that Richard is a convicted felon. According to state law, a convicted felon has to receive a governor’s pardon or remain out of public office for 15 years. Richard pleaded guilty in 2004 to one felony count of filing or maintaining false public records. The case involved the sale of diplomas and grades at Southern University.

However, board attorney Gerard Caswell said before Thursday’s meeting that Richard appealed Doherty’s ruling. As a result, the judge issued an order allowing Richard to stay on the board while the appeal goes through the court system.

Besides Jolivette and Leday, Milton Ambres, Madeline Taylor and Anna Simmons were also seeking the interim position.

Simmons did not attend the meeting, but the other four candidates spoke briefly before the board voted.

After his selection, Jolivette said he plans to serve the district with integrity and honesty and thanked the board for their votes.

Anthony Standberry, Raymond Cassimere, Donnie Perron, Huey Wyle, Kyle Boss, Roger Young and board President Harry Fruge voted for Jolivette.

Charles Ross voted for Simmons and Josie Frank voted for Taylor.

Board members Candace Gerace and Randy Wagley did not attend the meeting.

Caswell said qualifying for Miller’s seat begins Aug. 14.