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Tom Benson’s estranged heirs make renewed plea for psychiatric evaluation after 'pattern of bizarre behavior'

Associated Press file photo by BILL HABER -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson alongside his wife Gayle Benson before the Saints-Packers game in October.

Lawyers for the three relatives Tom Benson had tapped to inherit his sports teams but who have since been cut off reiterated in civil court documents filed Wednesday that it is “clearly” necessary for the 87-year-old billionaire to be examined by a geriatric psychiatrist because his physical and mental state are in dispute. Tom Benson’s granddaughter Rita… Continue reading →

Three men shot in Upper 9th Ward, and other area crime news

Brandon Miller

Three men were shot about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday in the 1900 block of Gallier Street, in the Upper 9th Ward, New Orleans police said. The men were taken to the hospital by New Orleans Emergency Medical Services. No further information on their condition… Continue reading →

Claims of NOPD progress met with public skepticism

Advocate file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Mayor Mitch Landrieu listens as Michael Harrison speaks after Landrieu made him police chief at a Night Out Against Crime event in Algiers.

Two years after a federal judge started the clock on a wide-ranging overhaul of the embattled New Orleans Police Department, the city is making lurching progress toward constitutional police practices, at least on paper, according to a court-appointed monitor overseeing the changes. Jonathan Aronie, who heads up the team of monitors keeping tabs on the NOPD,… Continue reading →

N.O. police officer-artist suspended over crime-scene blood writing

Advocate photo by ROBERTA GROVE - Artist/ New Orleans Police Officer Charles Hoffacker works on his piece at Hyph3n-Art Gallery during

A New Orleans police officer known for moonlighting as an artist faces a five-day suspension for allegedly writing on the ground with the blood of a murder victim as investigators worked the scene of a fatal shooting in May. The officer, Charles Hoffacker, whose crime-themed paintings have gained widespread acclaim, “acknowledged he was under stress… Continue reading →

Tom Benson: Ousted relatives never showed they were competent to run teams

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson watches the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Houston Rockets with his wife Gayle and granddaughter Rita Benson-LeBlanc  at New Orleans Arena / Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

Despite recently announcing his intention to alter a succession plan that would have left New Orleans’ NFL and NBA franchises to his daughter and her children upon his death, Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson had never publicly said he’d long doubted that they were fit to lead sports teams valued at more than $1.7 billion… Continue reading →

In new court docs, Saints owner Tom Benson: Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, Renee Benson incapable of managing $1.7B empire

Associated Press photo by BILL HABER - New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson poses for a photo with his wife Gayle Benson and his granddaughter, Rita Benson LeBlanc, before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans Sept. 21.

Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson argued in a civil court filing on Tuesday that he has ample justification to make his wife Gayle the inheritor of his teams instead of relatives he had previously tapped for that role. The latest jab in Benson’s family drama came in response to a lawsuit from his daughter, Renee… Continue reading →

Missing hunter in Pearl River WMA found alive

Photo provided by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office -- Missing hunter Robert

Robert Varnado, a 42-year-old hunter missing in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area since Thursday, was found Tuesday — hungry and dehydrated but alive, according to St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain. Varnado, of Mississippi, was found by sheriff’s deputies traveling down the West Pearl River by boat. He had made his way to the river… Continue reading →

Woman killed in shooting on Willow Street in New Orleans Tuesday morning

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Police investigate a scene where a 25-year-old woman was fatally shot Tuesday morning in the 3700 block of Willow Street. At around 9:10 a.m., police received a report that a woman had been shot between Gen. Taylor and Amelia streets near the former Magnolia public-housing complex.

A 25-year-old woman was fatally shot Tuesday morning in the 3700 block of Willow Street. New Orleans police received a report about 9:10 a.m. that a woman had been shot between Gen. Taylor and Amelia streets near the former Magnolia public housing complex. Officers arrived to find the victim in the street bleeding. The… Continue reading →

Police name suspect in Algiers shooting

Kareem Richards

New Orleans Police have identified a suspect in the Monday morning shooting of a 17-year-old in Algiers. Detectives are looking for Kareem Richards, 19, who they believe is responsible for the shooting. Witnesses helped detectives identify Richards as a suspect, according to police. The incident occurred Monday morning around 7:30 when a Landry-Walker… Continue reading →

17-year-old Landry-Walker student shot dead in Algiers

Advocate staff photo by  Benjamin Oreskes  --  The scene on the 3700 block of Garden Oaks Drive in Algiers, where a 17-year-old man was shot Monday morning

After the body of a 17-year-old Landry-Walker High School student was taken away by paramedics early Monday, bloody clothing and a black Nike backpack remained in the middle of an apartment complex parking lot in the 3700 block of Garden Oaks Drive in Algiers. The student, who remains unidentified, was apparently shot about 7:30 a.m., when… Continue reading →

Trial date set in former Destrehan teacher’s sex case

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former Destrehan High teacher Shelley Dufresne, left, leaves the courthouse in November after appearing in St. Charles Parish

A trial date has been set for Shelley Dufresne, one of two former Destrehan High School teachers accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student. In a bill of information filed in November, St. Charles Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson II charged Dufresne, 32, with one felony count of carnal knowledge of a juvenile.… Continue reading →

Public invited to weigh in on NOPD reforms Tuesday night

The federal monitoring team assigned to keep tabs on a raft of court-mandated reforms to the New Orleans Police Department will report on the city’s progress and answer questions from the public at a meeting Tuesday night in Central City. The team, led by the Washington, D.C.-based Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton law firm, last month… Continue reading →

'Redrum' carjacker pleads guilty

Daryle Guillot

Daryle Guillot was sentenced to 30 years in the Avoyelles Correctional Center after pleading guilty Monday to carjacking a woman in Metairie in 2013. Guillot, who has the word “REDRUM” — “murder” spelled backward — tattooed across his forehead, was already serving a 10-year sentence for attempting to rob a woman in New Orleans with a… Continue reading →

St. Tammany deputies looking for missing hunter

A Mississippi hunter last seen Thursday is the subject of a search in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, according to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. Robert Varnado, 42, was hunting with a friend when the two got separated. After the friend didn’t hear from Varnado by Saturday, he reported Varnado missing, according to a post… Continue reading →

Secret Service investigating ATM thefts along I-10 corridor

Whitney Bank Louisiana said Monday that it deactivated 7,100 debit cards over the weekend after discovering that ATMs at some of its branches had skimmers — devices that capture debit card and personal identification numbers — attached to them. The bank detected unauthorized activity at several ATMs on Saturday evening involving customers’ debit cards,… Continue reading →

BP to call first witnesses as it fights for lesser oil spill penalty

FILE - In this June 4, 2010, file photo, Steve Gardner scrapes oil from the sand along a 700-yard long strip of oil that washed up on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala. Pictures of fouled beaches and dead, oil-coated birds flashed on a courtroom screen as attorneys for the federal government outlined their case Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in New Orleans, for adding some $13.7 billion in penalties to costs already incurred by BP after the 2010 Gulf oil spill. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File) ORG XMIT: GARV202

It will be oil giant BP’s turn Monday to call witnesses as it makes its case for a civil penalty lower than the $13.7 billion the federal government is seeking for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The second week of a three-week trial was set to begin in New Orleans.… Continue reading →

Man, 29, shot dead in New Orleans parking lot early Monday morning

A 29-year-old man was shot dead and found in a parking lot early Monday morning, according to the New Orleans Police Department. The shooting occurred just past midnight in the 5700 block of Crowder Boulevard. NOPD said officers were called to investigate a "man down" in a business' parking lot and found him shot multiple times.… Continue reading →

Algiers man found dead after fire in home, and other area police and fire news

Photo provided by Robert Morris -- NOPD officers search South Clark Street for evidence after shots were fired late Sunday morning near Comiskey Park in Mid-City.

Algiers man found dead after fire in home A man’s body was discovered Sunday inside a home on Pittari Place in Algiers. He is believed to have died from smoke inhalation from a small space-heater fire inside the house. Firefighters were called to investigate a smell of smoke in the 3700 block of Pittari Place… Continue reading →

City of N.O., landfill operators settle lawsuit with land’s real owners

_DSC0489  Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling. Photo shot on 11/8/05. Gentilly landfill.

The city of New Orleans and the operators of a New Orleans East landfill that opened after Hurricane Katrina and quickly became the region’s busiest dump have agreed to pay $8 million to settle a long-running lawsuit with a group of people who actually own the property on which the landfill sits. The settlement… Continue reading →

Barber shot to death while cutting hair in Cut-Off neighborhood

Photo provided by Robert Morris  --  NOPD detectives investigate in front of a house on Kent Drive where a 49-year-old barber was shot to death Sunday afternoon and his customer was wounded.

A well-liked 49-year-old “neighborhood barber” was shot to death shortly after noon Sunday while cutting hair in front of a house in the Cut-Off section of Algiers. His customer was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the shoulder, New Orleans police said. The barber was cutting the hair of a 23-year-old… Continue reading →

After 34 years wrongfully imprisoned at Angola, exonerated man seeks hundreds of thousands of dollars from Louisiana

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Reginald Adams sits with his mother Antoinette Scott at their home in Kenner, La. Saturday, May 17, 2014. Adams was freed from prison thanks in part to the Innocence Project on Monday after 34 years for a murder Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro says Adams did not commit and Cannizzaro acknowledged egregious, intentional misconduct at Adams' murder trials in 1983 and 1990.

A man who spent 34 years in prison before Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office abruptly admitted last year that police and prosecutors railroaded him is now pressing for the state to pay him for the years he lost behind bars. Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office is reviewing Reginald Adams’… Continue reading →

One dead, one wounded in shooting on Kent Drive

Two men were shot in the 2800 block of Kent Drive around noon Sunday, where one victim died on the scene and the other was transported to the hospital with a shoulder injury, New Orleans Police Department reported. The names of the victims have not been released. More details will be coming pending further investigation, the… Continue reading →

Ex-cop pleads guilty to Road Home theft, and other area crime news

Ex-cop pleads guilty to Road Home theft Tracie Medus, 39, a former New Orleans police officer, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to theft of government funds. Medus admitted that she defrauded the federally funded Small Rental Property Program, a Louisiana Road Home program designed to let low-income families displaced by Hurricane Katrina return to Louisiana.… Continue reading →

One killed in Belle Chasse bridge car crash, and other crime news

Dwight Harvey

One person was killed and another was taken to the hospital after a two-car crash about 8 a.m. Friday on the Belle Chasse Bridge. A 2007 Ford F-150, driven by Ruben Vela Rodriguez, 32, of Pharr, Texas, was traveling north on La. 23 in… Continue reading →

Woman found guilty of manslaughter in 2012 St. Tammany killing

A St. Tammany Parish jury found 56-year-old Joan Faye Hartman guilty of manslaughter in the stabbing death of her son’s girlfriend and mother of her two granddaughters, reaching a verdict Friday night after just under two hours of deliberation. The prosecution was seeking a verdict of second-degree murder, a more serious offense. Sentencing will be… Continue reading →