Shreveport Attorney John Settle
by John Settle

The whistleblower lawsuit by former chief investigator Don Ashley against Caddo D.A. Charles Scott was filed March 22, 2012, following Ashley’s termination by Scott on March 2, 2012. Caddo Sheriff Prator filed an inquiry concerning the legality of the acquisition with the Louisiana Inspector General, who rendered a report dated July 26, 2012. (Prator is noticeably missing from the host committee for an upcoming Scott fundraiser). The findings of the Inspector General will no doubt be a big part of the upcoming July litigation.

False? No, LIES!
False information? No, LIES!

The Inspector General’s report highlights its investigation of the acquisition of 8 fully automatic M-16 rifles by the Caddo D.A.’s office (CDAO) from the Department of Defenses’s Law Enforcement Support office (LESO). The Inspector General’s letter advises that its investigation found no violations of law in the CPDAO’s possession of the weapons. However, it did find that the written justification submitted to the Louisiana Federal Property Assistance Agency (LFPAA), the state agency that administers acquisitions from LESO, contained false information.

"I didn't know what I was signing..."
“I didn’t know what I was signing…”

The Inspector General determined that Caddo Assistant District Attorneys Lea Hall and Hugo Holland, Jr. completed the application form, the weapons request form, and a Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Louisiana and the CPDAO to obtain the M-16s. These documents were then presented to D.A. Scott for his signature. Scott advised the Inspector General that he signed the documents as requested after “only glancing at” them, and without realizing the weapons were fully automatic.

According to Hall and Holland, they worked together to fill out the forms that were submitted to the LFPAA. Hall requested Holland’s assistance with the justification section on the weapon request form. Holland provided this statement for the form:

“This office recently staffed a Special Investigations Section which handles predominantly high profile and dangerous drug offenders. We routinely participate in high-risk surveillance and arrests (sic) activities with the Shreveport Police and Caddo Sheriff, and do not currently have the funds to provide patrol rifles to those involved in these high risk activities.”

This is high-risk!
This is high-risk!

To evaluate the CPDAO”s justification for the weapons, the Inspector General’s office interviewed personnel from the Shreveport Police Department and the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office. Persons from both agencies refuted the claim that the D.A’s Special Investigations Sections (SIS) employees “routinely participate in high-risk surveillance and arrests activities” with them.

Training to enter hostile quarters
Is this an elected District Attorney?

The Inspector General reported that Hall acknowledged that the justification contained “inaccuracies”, stating that Holland may have “said it wrong,” Hall did not, however, believe that any material misrepresentations were made about the SIS’s mission. Both Hall and Holland stated that if they had the opportunity, they would write the justification differently. Both cited situations in which the weapons would be useful in protecting District Attorney employees who work in dangerous areas in Caddo Parish, acting as advisors to local law enforcement.

The Inspector General report confirms that Scott learned that the M-16’s were fully automatic from Ashley on our about February 17, 2012. Scott then determined that his office did not have a need for automatic weapons and subsequently transferred all eight weapons to the Webster Parish Sheriff’s office on March 15 of last year. The Inspector General recommended that Scott “consider appropriate measures to ensure the truthfulness and accuracy of all future documents that leave (his) office,” and closed the file. The report did not address Ashley’s termination.

Dark clouds...
Dark clouds…

Both Holland and Hall left the Caddo D.A.’s office last spring under a dark cloud. Some reports say they were fired; others indicate they were forced to resign. D. A Scott has not clarified what actually caused their separation from his office, but he has indicated the hopes to have Holland back in some capacity. Both Holland and Hall were reportedly part of a Zombie Response Team (ZRT) headquartered in the D.A.’s office; more will be reported on the ZRT in the near future.