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City’s 2015 budget includes $7.3 million for NOPD consent decree

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s proposed 2015 budget includes a $1.5 million increase in funds to help the New Orleans Police Department comply with the terms of a federal consent decree. The extra money will go toward an advertising campaign to attract new recruits, replacement Tasers for officers and a software program to help identify bad cops. In all,… Continue reading →

Memorial service set for NOFD official

NOFD Capt. Troy Magee

A memorial service will be held Monday for a New Orleans Fire Department captain who died this week after falling ill during a training course in New Mexico. The service for Capt. Troy Magee will begin at 2 p.m. at Celebration Church, 2001 Airline Drive, Metairie. Visitation will begin at noon, the Fire Department said. A… Continue reading →

Fatal Lakeview stabbing wasn’t random, but motive unknown, police say

Asfhar Kashanifar

In a city where most killings are carried out by guns and often in public, this one was different. Asfhar Kashanifar’s life ended behind closed doors, inside his home in Lakeview, one of the city’s quieter neighborhoods. He died not from a bullet but from knife wounds. Detectives have theories about why he… Continue reading →

Feds charge 4 in scheme to rig N.O. bail bonds

A long-running federal probe into an allegedly illegal bail-bonding scheme that funneled kickbacks to clerks at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court yielded a federal indictment Friday against the ex-bondsman who has stood at the center of the investigation, along with his son and two others. In a 53-page indictment, a federal grand jury accused perennial political… Continue reading →

Entergy seeks permission to merge all Orleans Parish operations

In a joint request filed Thursday, Entergy New Orleans Inc. and Entergy Louisiana LLC asked the New Orleans City Council to approve the transfer of Entergy Louisiana’s Algiers customers to the utility’s New Orleans subsidiary. The companies have asked the council to allow Entergy Louisiana to sell its operations and certain assets serving Algiers for a… Continue reading →

Voodoo Fest kicks off with costumes, rides and contemporary music

Advocate staff photo by SHERRI MILLER -- Members of St. Cecilia's Asylum Chorus threw Halloween candy to the audience at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience at City Park in New Orleans, on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.

On a cloudless Friday afternoon, retro-country singer Sturgill Simpson apologized to the crowd gathered for his early afternoon set at the Voodoo Music + Arts Experience at City Park. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It’s really hard to stay focused. There’s a roller coaster in front of me.” Voodoo features classic county-fair rides and public art… Continue reading →

N.O. BioChallenge names pitch contest finalists

Four New Orleans life-sciences startups will pitch their business ideas to investors Nov. 18 in a competition for the $25,000 top prize in the third annual BioChallenge, the New Orleans BioInnovation Center announced Friday. The finalists are: AxoSim Technologies. The contract research firm’s “nerve-on-a-chip” provides a faster, more efficient alternative to animal testing for… Continue reading →

Orleans Sheriff’s Office mum on deputy’s firing

The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is refusing to release details about a deputy fired recently for a series of administrative violations, including “seeking the release of an inmate.” The deputy, Estravion Thomas, had been hired by the Sheriff’s Office in August 2010 and was terminated Oct. 9, said Philip Stelly, a spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman.… Continue reading →

‘Pill mill’ operators to testify against ex-cop charged with taking cash, sex bribes

Donald Nides

Federal prosecutors have set their sights on a former New Orleans police officer charged with accepting envelopes of cash and sexual bribes to conceal the free-wheeling drug distribution of two local pain clinics that authorities have described as “pill mills.” Donald Nides, a 34-year Police Department veteran who had been assigned to a U.S. Drug Enforcement… Continue reading →

Suits filed against Cleco over proposed sale

Two lawsuits have been filed by shareholders against Cleco Corp. relating to the company’s proposed sale. Both suits argue the sale price undervalues the company and allege the proposed sale was engineered for company directors and executives who would profit from change in control benefits. The lawsuits on behalf of Edward Braunstein… Continue reading →

Judge applauds progress at Orleans Parish Prison

The federal judge overseeing a series of reforms at Orleans Parish Prison sounded a note of optimism Friday, praising the Sheriff’s Office and city officials for inching closer to constitutional conditions at the troubled lockup. “I know that change is difficult, and changing something that has been in place for an especially long time is difficult… Continue reading →

Girl, 16, allegedly raped on Lusher campus

A 16-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted on the middle- and high-school campus of Lusher Charter School, New Orleans police said. The incident was reported about 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the 5600 block of Freret Street, where Lusher’s campus is located, according to a daily crime log. It was not immediately clear if that is when the… Continue reading →

La. Supreme Court dismisses suit over 7,000-plus post-Katrina school firings

Advocate file photo -- The Louisiana Supreme Court building, New Orleans.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has dismissed a class-action lawsuit challenging the firing of more than 7,000 public school employees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — a blow to the many teachers who still seethe over the way they were treated in the storm’s wake. The court’s 5-2 decision came as a surprise, reversing both the… Continue reading →

Settlement with energy companies over coastal erosion nets $50,000

There’s little more than a symbolic victory for a New Orleans-area levee authority in its settlement with two energy companies over coastal erosion The deal, which was announced Thursday without details, will provide $50,000 toward restoration efforts, a barely perceptible sum compared to the billions the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East is seeking in the on-going… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: Halloween welcome

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman’s work appears in The New Orleans Advocate four days a week. Follow this link to the cartoon.Continue reading →

Detroit murder suspect arrested in Chalmette, and other area police news

Surveillance image provided by the New Orleans Police Department -- Police are trying to identify this man wanted in connection with an auto burglary and theft from a Rite Aid drug store.

Maybe he should have put on the costume first. A suspect in a Detroit murder was arrested Wednesday afternoon outside a Chalmette costume shop, minutes after buying a bumblebee costume. Damian Jones, 23, is suspected in an Oct. 4, 2013, murder in the Michigan… Continue reading →

Face-lift fit for a Voodoo princess

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Guide Dawn Grosheider talks to her tour group at Marie Laveau's tomb in St. Louis No. 1 cemetery in New Orleans on Thursday, October 30, 2014. The tomb, which was vandalized earlier this year, has been renovated.

Tourists swilled beers, tour guides barked and the tomb of legendary Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau received a final touch-up Thursday as part of a group effort to restore the popular attraction to its original state. The tomb, which is in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 near Conti and Basin… Continue reading →

Settlement reached in sexual misconduct case against ex-Plaquemines deputy

Former Plaquemines Parish Deputy Elijah Gary

A lawsuit alleging sexual battery that was filed against a former Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy, as well as Sheriff Lonnie Greco and his office, has been settled out of court. The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement this week saying it has agreed to pay $48,000 to settle the case. U.S. District Judge Nannette… Continue reading →

Court clerk clashes with City Council president over his budget

Stacy Head

It is begging season at City Hall, the time of year when one agency head after another appears before the City Council to ask for more money — sometimes millions of dollars more — than the mayor proposes to give them in next year’s budget. But Arthur Morrell, the clerk of Criminal District Court, is clearly… Continue reading →

Two small energy companies settle coastal damage claims with N.O. levee authority

Central marshes in St. Bernard Parish, La. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Two small Texas energy firms settled with a New Orleans-area levee authority on Thursday, becoming the first defendants to throw in the towel in a massive lawsuit accusing almost 100 oil and gas companies of directly contributing to coastal erosion in southeast Louisiana. Details of the settlements between the Southeast Louisiana Flood… Continue reading →

Gallier Hall needs major renovation; Carnival viewing stand may be moved

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- A section of the facade of Gallier Hall on St. Charles Avenue broke off and crashed to the stone steps in August, damaging the steps. The area around the front of the building was barricaded for the safety of passing pedestrians.

All hail, Rex. And beware of falling objects. The ongoing threat of falling stone from the Gallier Hall fa├žade may prevent Mayor Mitch Landrieu from raising his glass in toast to Carnival dignitaries at the historic building next year. Gallier Hall is in need of a “major, major renovation,” Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant told… Continue reading →

Top Louisiana health official to those fighting Ebola: Don’t come to Sunday’s conference in New Orleans

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON --  Department of Health and Hospitals Sec. Kathy Kliebert speaks on behalf of HB388 by State Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, in front of the House Committee on Health and Welfare on Wednesday at the Louisiana State Capitol.

Louisiana’s top health official is warning researchers and medical professionals who’ve fought Ebola in West Africa to stay away from the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s annual conference in New Orleans. Continue reading →

Man suspected of carjacking Metairie woman arrested

A man wanted for allegedly carjacking a Metairie woman this past June has been arrested, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s office announced. Roberto Antonio Barrios, 25, was arrested in Monroe after the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Task Force received information that Barrios was living in the area. Barrios was taken to the Ouachita Parish Detention… Continue reading →

Man shot on Freret Street in New Orleans on Wednesday night

A 23-year-old man was shot in the chest in the 2400 block of Freret Street on Wednesday night, according to the New Orleans Police Department. The Central City shooting occurred just after 9 p.m. The victim was taken to an area hospital. NOPD didn’t provide an update on his condition.… Continue reading →

Fla. man found guilty in N.O. federal court, and other area police news

Percill Bienemy

A Florida man arrested in Mandeville on gun charges in 2013 was convicted Wednesday in New Orleans.… Continue reading →

Why criminal charges appear unlikely in overlooked I-10 fatalities of young boy, his mother

Advocate staff photo by JIM MUSTIAN -- Police investigators work the scene of where 4-year-old Richard Gorden III and his mother, Tracey Jefferson, 28, were found near an Interstate 10 on-ramp.

New Orleans police said Wednesday that they have reconstructed a six-car pileup that happened last month on Interstate 10 — an unusual crash in which a young boy and his mother lay dead yet unnoticed on the side of the highway for two days — and that criminal charges appear unlikely in the case.… Continue reading →

Court docs: Man gunned down in New Orleans East had stash of drugs, cash, guns in house

Photo by Della Hasselle -- Evidence markers litter the front yard of  a man who was fatally shot Saturday afternoon in the 4600 block of Galahad Drive in New Orleans East

Tyrone Dejoie said little on Aug. 30 as he watched homicide detectives canvass the home where his uncle, Gerard Dorsey, had just been gunned down in the doorway. Dejoie, 35, said he lived in the unassuming house in New Orleans East with the 53-year-old Dorsey and couldn’t understand why someone would commit such a… Continue reading →

St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta’s sexual battery trial to be moved out of St. Bernard

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta, right, leaves the St. Bernard Parish Court House after a hearing in his ongoing sexual battery case. Heather Bertucci, the daughter of his accuser and ex-wife Sharon Schaefer, accompanies him.

The judge presiding over embattled St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta’s sexual battery case involving his ex-wife agreed Wednesday to move the trial out of the parish. Retired Judge Frank Foil, who was appointed as an ad hoc judge to hear the case, granted the defense’s request for a change of venue during a brief hearing… Continue reading →

Zeitoun, post-Katrina literary hero, faces still more charges

Abdulrahman Zeitoun

Criminal charges keep coming for Abdulrahman Zeitoun, the local Syrian-American painting contractor who became a literary symbol for post-Katrina injustice and perseverance, then later was tried but acquitted of trying to kill his ex-wife, Kathy. Already stranded in Orleans Parish Prison for violating the terms of his pretrial release on a felony charge of… Continue reading →

Amedisys -- one of country’s largest home health companies -- beats analysts’ expectations in 3Q

A better-than-expected third quarter boosted home health giant Amedisys Inc.’s shares to a three-year high Wednesday, as its stock briefly spiked by more than 19 percent before easing back. The Baton Rouge-based company reported a third-quarter profit of $8.4 million, or 26 cents per share, easily whipping past Wall Street analysts’ projections. Stock analysts surveyed… Continue reading →

Walt Handelsman: Political Epicenter

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and animator Walt Handelsman’s work appears in The New Orleans Advocate four days a week. Follow this link to the cartoon.… Continue reading →

WWL-TV report reveals new details on last week’s murder of Lakeview man; not a ‘random act,’ NOPD says

The murder last Thursday of Lakeview resident Asfhar “Oscar” Kashanifar wasn’t a random act of violence, the New Orleans Police Department says, according to a WWL-TV report. NOPD says Asfhar, 65, was stabbed -- not shot -- to death, and friends discovered his body inside his home on Pontchartrain Boulevard. “We don’t believe this… Continue reading →

Woman found in car is city’s latest homicide, and other area police news

Jose Lagos

A woman whose body was found inside a burned vehicle in Desire is the city’s latest homicide victim, the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office said Tuesday. An autopsy found Kimberly Bowman, 32, died from a gunshot wound, Coroner Jeffrey Rouse said. Bowman’s body was… Continue reading →

Advocate publisher John Georges says he’s not running for governor; owning newspaper a public service without holding office

Advocate publisher John Georges

The newspaper business provides opportunities for those willing to introduce new ideas without throwing out key elements that make for great journalism, Advocate Publisher John Georges told a Loyola University forum Tuesday night. “I’m one of those disrupters, outsiders that bring expertise from the outside in a way that doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater,”… Continue reading →

Fire Department budget not adequate, union head tells council

The proposed 2015 budget presented last week by the Landrieu administration does not provide enough money to staff the Fire Department at a level that will keep the public and firefighters safe, the president of the local firefighters union told the City Council on Tuesday. New Orleans Firefighters Association President Nick Felton said the Fire Department,… Continue reading →

Man eyed in Bourbon Street shooting

New court records show police are scrutinizing a French Quarter restaurant worker who has allegedly made inconsistent statements about his activities on the night of the Bourbon Street shooting this summer. A court order filed by State Police Trooper Gustave Bethea on Sept. 11 sought a month’s worth of telephone records from a cellphone belonging to 29-year-old… Continue reading →