Once in a Blue Moon

August 1, 2015

Everyone knows that once in a Blue Moon even the underdogs in Vermilion Parish can catch a glimpse of justice. Such is the case of Michelle McNabb who fell on hard times while living next door to Sheriff Couvillon’s brother. Her house was repossessed by the bank and then sold at Mike Couvillon’s Sheriff Sale.

Due to inclement weather, the Sheriff’s sale was relocated at the last minute but the Sheriff’s sale still went on. And that’s when Sheriff Mike Couvillon bought Michelle McNabb’s house for half its value…at his own Sheriff’s sale.

That was over a year ago and now the Louisiana Board of Ethics has voted to charge Sheriff Couvillon for breaking the law: R.S. 42:1113 A, a law which prohibits public servants from entering into contracts and transactions with the agencies they serve.

After Sheriff Couvillon acquired the property, his deputies were frequently running errands and providing manual labor to help their boss turn a quick profit. They did the same thing in Maurice while they worked on the property of the Sheriff's lady friend who later became his employee as well as his wife. [we saw the video]

Understand, there is only one way to ‘move up’ in the VPSO, and that's to suck-up to the Sheriff... just ask his detectives what happened after he married his friend in Maurice. In just a few short years after they were married, she became one of Sheriff Couvillon’s highest paid employees. She has no previous law enforcement experience but that does not matter, you understand, she is now MRS Sheriff Mike Couvillon.

But I digress… sorta. We were talking about ethics, right?

As I was saying, Sheriff Mike’s deputies worked tirelessly to help their boss turn a quick profit on his new house and Sheriff Couvillon is off to a good start. He paid only $58,000 when the property was valued at $106,000. Obviously, the house was STEAL.  Presently, the property is priceless… it’ll be the sanctuary where Sheriff Mike Couvillon will retire one day with his wife, the VPSO Criminal Investigations detective, living right next door to his brother. Let the good times roll.

Today, Sheriff Couvillon is whining about the timing of the decision from the Ethics Board who chose to charge him with breaking the law.  "It's an election season, this is about negative politics," he said. The Sheriff also claims that he is innocent and everything he did was legal.

Where have we heard that before? Remember Mike Harson trying to defend his OWI scam? Every time the FREE Press criticized Harson, he accused them of practicing "negative politics"  Harson said that his OWI scam “was all legal,”... the only reason he wasn't [scamming] anymore was because Judge Rubin wanted to cover his tracks regarding his own involvement. Right?

Damn, I digress again. Trapped in the abyss of this Good Ol’ Boy spider web.

Getting back to the Ethic's Board decision, Sheriff Mike Couvillon says: "I contacted two attorneys prior to the foreclosure [of the house next door to my brother], both [attorneys] confirmed it was okay to buy the house, all the laws were followed,"

Seriously? Sheriff Couvillon contacted not just one, but TWO attorneys? And according to Sheriff Couvillon, they both told him it was legal for him to purchase the house next door to his brother for half its value at his own Sheriff Sale which was, coincidentally, moved to a new location at the last minute. TWO separate attorneys told him it was all legal? Seriously?

Clearly, the law was NOT followed: R.S. 42:1113 A, a law which prohibits [Sheriff Couvillon] from entering into contracts and transactions with [his own Sheriff sale].

When you think about it, the only reason Sheriff Couvillon asked the advice of TWO lawyers is because he knew he was on thin ice. It was just too hard for him to do the right thing, so he asked his lawyers to find a loophole.

"The sheriff gaining out of the sheriff's sale, it just doesn't seem right," said Michelle McNabb. "It should be unethical!"

 Pearson Cross agrees, "This is a case of corruption," said Dr. Cross, who is the head of the Political Science Department at UL. "It seems at the face of it, to be a gross violation of the law, specifically the Code of Ethics for the state of Louisiana that says no employee, no sheriff's employee can bid at a sheriff's sale."

"You are an elected official, you are in a position of trust and you've got to handle the people's property and business with propriety," said Dr. Cross. "You can't intrude your personal interests into the business of the state and that appears to be what [Sheriff Couvillon] has done."

For the record, this is certainly not the first time that Sheriff Couvillon has abused the power of his office. Remember this fiasco: State of Louisiana vs Dawn Marcelle? That’s a perfect example of how Sheriff Couvillon has allowed his PERSONAL interests of retaliation to intrude on the business of the State. It’s called ABUSE OF OFFICE and is grounds for the charge of malfeasance. All in a day’s work at the VPSO. Right Sheriff Couvillon?

If the Sheriff were a decent and trustworthy public servant and believed he was bound to protect and serve, he would have approached Ms McNabb instead of his lawyers. The Sheriff should have offered her some compassion, maybe some advice or, perhaps, fair market value for her home.

Instead, Sheriff Mike Couvillon sat back like a vulture, waiting to take advantage of Michelle McNabb’s misfortune.

We all know that the Sheriff is well versed on how properties end up in a Sheriff’s sale. Remember when Couvillon repossessed Donnell Dent’s boat?  The Dent’s had apparently defaulted on a $30,000 note and somehow the collateral for the note was a little motor boat worth less than $5000. Sheriff Couvillon confiscated the 'little boat' while Jimmy and Donnell bragged about being allowed to keep their BIG boat which they had named:  ‘MrsCuldesac’. Seems like a convenient scenario, doesn’t it? I bet there is more to that story.

Hmmmm, I digress again. There’s just so many crooked twists in the Vermilion Parish Sheriff Sales.

"The general provision in the code prohibits not only improprieties, but also the appearance of improprieties," said Kathleen Allen, Ethics Administrator for the department. "How does it look to someone that the public employee or the elected official was doing business with their own agency?" (note: Isn't that what Kirk Frith does with US K9? The ethics board could keep very busy in Vermilion.)

The Ethics Board can issue a fine up to $10,000 for Sheriff Mike Couvillon ethic's violation. And another $10,000 for every violation he is found guilty for in the future.

And ya know what? That’s just a slap on the wrist and, unfortunately, the next blue moon isn't due until 2018.

I guess the next question is: Can the Louisiana Sheriff's Association continue to support Mike Couvillon as their Treasurer?

Even after the Louisiana Board of Ethics find him guilty?

Stay tuned...let's see what the LSA has to say.

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