EBR parish attorney placed on leave in software probe

East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney Mary Roper was asked Monday by the head of the Metro Council to take paid leave as city-parish officials investigate whether she is connected to the theft of an in-house software program.

Roper, in an interview Monday, confirmed she was asked to take leave, but she adamantly denies any wrongdoing.

“I can assure you I have done nothing wrong,” she said. “I am in a complete state of shock that anyone would think that anything necessitated that.”

Because Roper is an unclassified employee, she cannot be placed on administrative leave. She said she was asked Monday by Mayor Pro Tem Chandler Loupe to take some paid time off, and she agreed to cooperate.

Roper’s job entails representing the Metro Council on legal issues.

At issue is an in-house software program developed by city-parish employees and used by the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness that was allegedly stolen, according to multiple sources within the city-parish government.

Roper said she was questioned about emails containing source codes from the software that she had sent a few years ago to her husband.

She said she had been directed to register the software in order to copyright it on behalf of the city-parish, a process requiring sharing source codes with the U.S. Copyright Office.

In the process, she emailed some of the code to her husband, Eiad Odeh, who works for the city-parish Public Works Department. Roper said she sent it to Odeh for his advice because of his background in computer engineering.

She also noted that the source code is a public record.

“I’ve done nothing wrong and I don’t understand why anyone would do this without completely investigating the legal aspects of legalization of a software copyright,” she said.

The Parish Attorney’s Office works for the Metro Council, so Roper can be removed only by a full vote of the council.

Loupe declined comment, saying only that “I cannot comment on personnel issues.”

Roper also said she was assured she is not being criminally investigated.

She said there is no definitive time frame for how long she is expected to be on leave.

The Mayor’s Office also declined comment for this story.