Louisiana news briefs
Standoff in Assumption ends with arrest
PIERRE PART (AP) — Assumption Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested a Pierre Part man after gunshots were fired from his home and the man refused to allow deputies inside his residence.
Sheriff Mike Waguespack said hostage negotiators convinced 29-year-old David Hebert to allow deputies inside about 9 p.m. Tuesday, following a three-hour standoff.
Hebert was booked into the Assumption Parish Detention Center in Napoleonville with counts of resisting an officer and illegal use of weapons.
DWI bribery suit may
affect Lafayette DWI cases
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A lawsuit filed this week will likely dig into the details of a scheme at the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office where bribes were paid for favorable treatment in DWI cases.
Three former employees of the District Attorney’s Office have already pleaded guilty in a federal probe of the scheme.
The lawsuit now questions the legitimacy of DWI guilty pleas that Lafayette attorney Barry Sallinger contends are tainted because they were arranged by a man who is not an attorney and who instead doled out cash to secure plea deals for his clients.
Sallinger is representing Ryan Dean Stelly, who claims in the lawsuit to have paid Lafayette private investigator Robert Williamson $5,000 in 2010 in exchange for arranging a plea deal for a first-offense DWI.
Fletcher plans to open marine facility by summer
HOUMA (AP) — Responding to the growing demand for maritime training, Fletcher Technical Community College hopes to open its new $6.6 million marine operations facility in Houma by early summer.
The 25,152-square-foot building, next to Cut Off-based Edison Chouest Offshore’s LaShip shipyard, will help expand the school’s marine programs with more courses in areas such as water survival, remote operating vehicle training, dynamic positioning and simulator training.
The marine operations program, which has 2,300 to 2,400 students, provides specialized classroom instruction and practical training to prepare students to obtain various documents, licenses and endorsements issued by the Coast Guard and the Federal Communications Commission. These industry-based certifications are required for a variety of marine operations jobs.
High court tosses
AG office’s $330M judgment
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A divided Louisiana Supreme Court has overturned a $330 million judgment against two pharmaceutical companies that state Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell accused of improperly marketing a drug.
The state’s highest court ruled Tuesday that Caldwell’s office failed to prove that Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. or Johnson & Johnson Inc. violated a state law by misrepresenting the potential risk of side effects from the use of Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug.
Following a jury’s verdict against the companies, a state judge entered a judgment awarding more than $257 million in civil penalties, plus $70 million in attorneys’ fees and $3 million in costs. A state appeals court later upheld the judgment.
A spokeswoman for Caldwell’s office said it will review Tuesday’s ruling before determining any “next steps.”
LNG project moving
along at swift pace
LAKE CHARLES (AP) — The president of Magnolia LNG updated Lake Charles Port Board members on the company’s estimated $3.5 billion liquefied natural gas project and presented a check to extend the company’s lease with the port for a year.
Maurice Brand said the midscale LNG project is expected to produce up to 70 permanent jobs, 175 indirect jobs and 1,000 construction jobs. The facility, construction of which is expected to begin in the spring of 2015, will be on port property along the Industrial Canal.
He said on Wednesday the facility will be about 30 percent more efficient than other LNG plants, using 6 percent to 8 percent of gas instead of the typical 9 percent to 10 percent.
raises minimum wage
SHREVEPORT (AP) — Centenary College is taking to heart President Barack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage.
Centenary’s president, David Rowe, said Wednesday that the wage scale is increasing for its regular, full-time and part-time staff members effective immediately.
The new minimum wage at Centenary is now $10.10.
Obama announced in his State of the Union address Tuesday that he will sign an executive order setting the minimum wage for workers covered by new federal contracts at $10.10 an hour. The current federal minimum is $7.25.
Rowe said he was inspired by Obama’s call to action, saying the change was in the best interest of employees and the community.
He also asked Centenary’s two major vendors, National Resource Management and Sodexo, to do likewise for their campus employees, and each agreed.
Vivian man arrested for alleged rape 4 decades ago
SHREVEPORT (AP) — Caddo Parish sheriff’s deputies have arrested a Vivian man for an alleged rape that occurred more than four decades ago.
Sheriff Steve Prator says 69-year-old Earl Sheppard McGee, after questioning about the case, was booked Tuesday into the Caddo Correctional Center on a charge of aggravated rape.
Prator says Mcgee is accused of having sex with a minor on numerous occasions between 1969 and 1980. The sheriff says the victim recently disclosed the alleged abuse and notified authorities.
Sex assault nursing program may expand to Iberia
LAFAYETTE (AP) — A program that trains nurses to conduct forensic sexual assault exams in Lafayette emergency rooms since 2006 expanded to St. Martin Parish last year and plans to continue its outreach into Iberia Parish later this year.
Jill Howell Dugas, Hearts of Hope executive director, said Hearts of Hope began the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners program to alleviate what was often an hours-long wait for an exam and the potential loss of critical evidence, or prevent a patient from leaving the emergency room before treatment.
Currently, there are four SANE-trained nurses taking emergency room calls and more are still in training. Dugas says training takes about a year and includes online and face-to-face classes, clinical experiences and buddy calls with a trained SANE nurse.