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Group offers ‘mental health first aid’ training in St. Tammany

Tiffanie Lyon, an associate pastor at Slidell’s First United Methodist Church, still replays in her mind the way she handled a mental health crisis that unfolded at her other job, one with a company that finds employment for people with disabilities. One of her clients was in distress, and Lyon said she instinctively did some things… Continue reading →

Lacombe man gets 20 years for second offense in failing to register as sex offender

Alva Thompson, 44, of Lacombe

A man from Lacombe with a felony record who twice ignored the law requiring sex offenders to register will spend the next 20 years in prison after being sentenced by 22nd Judicial District Judge William Burris. Alva Thompson, 44, pleaded guilty to aggravated incest in May 2007 and was sentenced to five years in prison, according to… Continue reading →

Slidell police arrest suspect in attempted murder case after half-hour standoff Wednesday

A man wanted in an attempted murder case in Coushatta, La. was arrested early Wednesday morning after a 30-minute stand-off with Slidell police and U.S. Marshals. Valere Frazier was arrested without incident at a home in the 1300 block of Westlawn Drive in Slidell. He was wanted on multiple felony warrants from the Red River… Continue reading →

Suit says St. Tammany Coroner’s Office cremated man’s body without his wife’s knowledge or consent

The widow and daughter of a Florida man who died while visiting Slidell in August are suing St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston for cremating his body without his wife’s knowledge or consent, despite their efforts to obtain information from the office. The suit also says the Coroner’s Office has refused to provide an autopsy report… Continue reading →

Man who used ziptie, towel to strangle woman's husband found guilty in St. Tammany murder-for-hire plot

Carlos Alberto Rodriguez

Seven years after Mario Scramuzza was found strangled in the laundry room of his Covington-area home, Carlos Rodriguez was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder — the last of four defendants involved in the crime to be convicted. Rodriguez, who conspired with the victim’s wife in the murder-for-hire case, was convicted by a six-man, six-woman jury… Continue reading →

Pearl River man arrested after ex-girlfriend shot in face

A Pearl River man will be booked on a count of attempted second-degree murder after he shot his former girlfriend in the face during an argument in Pearl River, setting off a manhunt that went on for hours, officials said. Randy Lail was arrested without incident shortly before 11 a.m. Wednesday after police received a tip… Continue reading →

'I ruined my life ... my family': Wife of murdered man testifies about plot to kill him in Covington

Carlos Alberto Rodriguez

On Feb. 27, 2009, Gina Scramuzza picked up her boyfriend, Carlos Rodriguez, at a Covington Wal-Mart and drove him and two other men, whose faces she was instructed not to look at, to the house she shared with her husband, Mario, and the couple’s 13-year-old son. The men were there to do one thing: “to kill… Continue reading →

State planning to sell Slidell park-and-ride lot on Lindberg Drive

A park-and-ride lot on Lindberg Drive that Slidell-area residents commuting to New Orleans have used since the early 1990s will be auctioned off Thursday by the state Department of Transportation and Development — likely forcing more than 100 commuters to change their daily routine and find a new place to catch their van or carpool. The… Continue reading →

Trial begins in Covington for man accused in 2009 killing

Gina Scramuzza

Jury selection began Monday in Covington in the first-degree murder trial of Carlos Rodriguez, who is accused of tying up, beating and strangling Mario Scramuzza in 2009 at the request of Scramuzza’s wife, Gina. Rodriguez is the last of four defendants in the case to go before the court. The other three, including Gina Scramuzza, already… Continue reading →

Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith preparing to take over Sheriff’s Office

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith, photographed Thursday, May 12, 2016, at his office. Smith will be sworn in as St. Tammany Parish Sheriff on July 1.

Randy Smith is playing multiple roles these days. The career law enforcement officer is still running Slidell’s Police Department, a job he’s held since 2010, and as St. Tammany Parish’s sheriff-elect, he’s making key hires and reviewing his transition team’s plans as he gets ready for July 1, the day he takes charge of the 750-person agency.… Continue reading →

Incoming St. Tammany sheriff names his top aides

St. Tammany Parish Sheriff-elect Randy Smith named three deputy chiefs Wednesday, two hired from outside the agency and one promoted from within, and said he will retain Fred Oswald as chief deputy, the office’s second-in-command. The announcements, made in a news release, are the first for the incoming administration and signal that Smith, who takes office… Continue reading →

After 2 pilots killed in crash at airport, Slidell officials renew effort to move, bury transmission lines

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD  Burned debris marks the crash sight Wednesday, April 20, 2016, of a twin-engine airplane that crashed north of the Slidell Airport Tuesday evening, killing two St. Tammany Mosquito Abatement District workers.

The mosquito abatement plane that crashed at Slidell Municipal Airport last month, killing two pilots, hit high-power transmission line towers, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board. In response, Slidell officials are renewing efforts to get those lines near the airport’s north runway approach relocated or buried. Airport manager Richard… Continue reading →

Some believe Walter Reed prosecution heralds crackdown on misuse of campaign funds; others not so sure

Advocate photo by SOPHIA GERMER -- Former St. Tammany Parish D.A. Walter Reed walks into the Hale Boggs Federal Building and Courthouse for the beginning of his federal corruption trial in New Orleans, Monday April 18, 2016.

To hear Walter Reed tell it, the path to political success was paved with catered parties, floral arrangements and dinners at expensive restaurants where he could see and be seen. But Reed’s habit of using his campaign war chest as a petty cash fund to support such activities has ultimately paved the way to a likely prison cell.… Continue reading →

Former Walter Reed subordinate knew he couldn’t agree to the lie his longtime boss wanted him to tell

Photo provided by Leo Hemelt -- Leo Hemelt

Leo Hemelt could tell that Walter Reed was uncomfortable when the two sat down in Reed’s office in May 2014. A flurry of recent media reports had raised questions about the payments for Reed’s legal work for St. Tammany Parish Hospital. Hospital officials had maintained that their agreement was with the District Attorney’s Office. Reed, the… Continue reading →

Analysis: Jury rejected Walter Reed’s credibility, and believed subordinate who said DA wanted him to lie

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former St. Tammany/Washington parish District Attorney Walter Reed leaves federal court in New Orleans after being arraigned on an 18 count indictment Monday, May 4, 2015.

When the jury in Walter Reed’s 11-day corruption trial returned with a verdict about four hours after receiving the case Monday afternoon, observers and participants alike were caught by surprise. Former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg said he had never seen such a quick verdict following a two-week corruption case. Reed told reporters later that a short deliberation usually is… Continue reading →

Exclusive: In 911 call, hysterical Kacie Breen begs for help after shooting husband at north shore home

Photo provided by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office - - The garage of Kacie and Wayne Breen's Folsom-area home where Kacie shot and killed her husband on March 1, 2015.

A hysterical Kacie Breen dialed 911 moments after she twice shot her husband Wayne, screaming and begging for help as she held a shirt to his wounds and told operators that he wasn’t breathing. The recording of Breen’s 911 call, released this past week in response to a public-records request from The New Orleans Advocate, does… Continue reading →

In Walter Reed trial, former aides come to ex-DA's defense

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former St. Tammany/Washington parish District Attorney Walter Reed leaves federal court in New Orleans after being arraigned on an 18 count indictment Monday, May 4, 2015.

Walter Reed’s defense team called two of his closest aides from the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office to the stand Thursday, hoping to cast doubt on government claims that Reed funneled money from his campaign fund to his son Steven and on other arguments in the government’s 19-count cases against the former district attorney. Bart Pepperman,… Continue reading →

Slidell-area man killed in apparent lightning strike Wednesday

Wednesday’s severe storms on the north shore claimed the life of a Slidell-area man, according to St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston. Elvin Arturo Castro-Santiago, 36, was working on a construction site on East End Boulevard south of Slidell when lightning struck him, Preston said in a news release. Castro-Santiago was taken to a hospital,… Continue reading →

Walter Reed’s defense team produces important letter concerning his deal with public hospital

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former St. Tammany/Washington parish DA Walter Reed arrives at federal court Wednesday where his trial is continuing.

Opening their defense of Walter Reed, his attorneys on Wednesday zeroed in on the former north shore district attorney’s relationship with St. Tammany Parish Hospital, taking aim at the government’s contention that Reed pocketed money from the hospital that was meant for his office. One of the main legs of the government’s case against Reed, presented… Continue reading →

Walter Reed lied on tax returns, prosecution argues as it rests case against ex-north shore DA, his son

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Former St. Tammany DA Walter Reed enters the Hale Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

After six days of testimony aimed at showing former north shore District Attorney Walter Reed pocketed public money and used campaign funds to entertain family, woo private law clients and financially prop up his son and co-defendant Steven Reed, federal prosecutors rested their case Tuesday afternoon. The public corruption trial, which began April 18, will resume… Continue reading →

Tulane Primate Research Center regains permit to work with dangerous biological agents

Advocate file photo by Richard Alan Hannon --  A rhesus macaques monkey stares out at a visitor from its cage at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Covington in 2004.

Officials with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reinstated Tulane University’s permit to work with dangerous biological agents, more than a year after the permit was suspended when three monkeys at the university’s Covington-area research center were infected with potentially deadly Burkholderia pseudomallei bacteria. Tulane announced the reinstatement Monday but said… Continue reading →

Day 6 of Walter Reed trial: Preacher testifies he referred clients to private law firm of Reed, who paid for dinners, fixed tickets

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Former St. Tammany DA Walter Reed enters the Hale Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse in New Orleans, La. Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Jerry Wayne Cox, a Pentecostal preacher whose Franklinton church got a $25,000 payment from former north shore District Attorney Walter Reed’s campaign fund, testified in federal court Monday that he referred seven to 10 personal-injury cases to Reed, who also had a private law practice. But when Cox sought a donation for his church’s gym building… Continue reading →

Fifth day of Walter Reed trial focuses on hospital contract, meals charged to campaign account

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Former St. Tammany/Washington parish DA Walter Reed arrives at federal court Wednesday where his trial is continuing.

Federal prosecutors zeroed in on Walter Reed’s arrangement to serve as outside legal counsel for St. Tammany Parish Hospital as well as his campaign expenditures on Friday, the fifth day of the former north shore district attorney’s federal corruption trial. Seesawing between the two topics, prosecutors called more than a dozen witnesses, including hospital… Continue reading →

Suicides of 2 Mandeville High students rattle community; officials urge parents to look for warning signs

The suicides of two students at Mandeville High School this week rattled many north shore residents, with parents grappling with how to prevent such tragedies and school officials scrambling to help other students deal with the loss. While suicides overall are down this year in St. Tammany Parish, according to Lynette Savoie, of St.… Continue reading →

Mandeville man booked after sending video of young girls

An 18-year old Mandeville man was booked Wednesday on indecent behavior and child pornography counts after he allegedly sent video of himself having sex with two 14-year olds to other people, police said. Stiles Patrick King, of Mead Court in Mandeville, was booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail, where he remained Thursday afternoon. The incident… Continue reading →