Webster Parish Police Jury attorney Patrick Jackson says a plan is in place to help the coroner’s office.
During the police jury committee meeting, Jackson told jurors “certain employment decisions have been made by the coroner,” and certain “stopgaps” have been put into place to try to prevent anything like this from happening again; however, Dr. Carlos Irizarry, coroner, is taking on the responsibilities of the office, he said.
Glenda Lewis was arrested Aug. 24 and charged with malfeasance in office and felony theft after a search warrant was executed at the coroner’s office where Webster Parish sheriff’s investigators seized files and documentation in relation to the alleged theft.
“We’ve been trying to facilitate at least some interim stopgap measure to get the coroner’s office functioning and there’s some other opportunities in the works to try to get the help of other coroner’s offices until something can be put into place on a more permanent basis,” Jackson said. “At this point, the investigation is still ongoing and we still have a functioning coroner’s office.”
Lewis is accused of overbilling and double-billing public and private businesses for work done with coroner’s office resources.
Lewis was working for the coroner’s office and Hospice as well as other contractual agencies to do medical work and she was reportedly billing both parties for the same time. She was also billing for mileage for one entity and billing another entity for the same mileage, Sheriff Gary Sexton said at the time of her arrest.
Juror Charles Odom says he has no confidence in the coroner’s office right now, given the arrest and conviction of Lewis’ brother, Glen Guin in 2012 for the embezzlement of nearly $100,000 and the current situation.
“I’m getting calls, ‘Why can’t we do something?’” Odom said. “This is definitely an embarrassment.”
He also asked about the proposed ballot proposition that would have taken the responsibility off of municipalities to pay for coroner’s services by the creation of a taxing district to fund the coroner’s office. That proposition will not go on the ballot.
“They say, ‘Why should I vote for this when this is happening?’” Odom said in regards to the creation of the taxing district.
The criminal investigation is still ongoing, but Jackson says coroner services for Webster Parish will continue.
“My understanding is he is (handling the coroner’s responsibilities) and he is looking for replacement staff,” Jackson said. “He expects to have a plan in place, but there is some continuity of operation right now.”
Qualifying for elected offices begins Sept. 8.