Mouriz fired; Hingle’s sentencing delayedFeb 2nd, 2012 | By William Dilella | Category: news
In a very short press release, the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office announced that Major Brandon Mouriz had been fired by interim Sheriff Michael LaFrance:
“Effective January 25, 2012, Major Brandon A. Mouriz is no longer employed by the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office. Due to the fact that this is a personnel matter, Sheriff Lafrance, at this time, will have no further comment.”
Mouriz had been cited in the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s report, which outlined former Sheriff Jiff Hingle receiving bribes from contractor Aaron Bennett for tens-of-thousands of dollars, and about $750,000 in duplicate reimbursements, travel expenses, and suspicious charges from Robert Berning Productions to the PPSO. Mouriz’s activity is detailed along with potentially fraudulent travel expenses for conferences covering the entire country, some of which were booked but never attended by either Hingle or Mouriz, as was the case with the street crimes seminar in Rio Rancho New Mexico.
“According to PPSO records, Sheriff Hingle and Major Mouriz attended a Street Crimes Seminar hosted by the Street Crimes Program in Rio Rancho, New Mexico from September 21, 2009, to September 23, 2009,” said the December 7, 2011 audit report. “Sheriff Hingle was reimbursed $3,744 for airfares, meals, and conference registration for himself and Major Mouriz on this trip. The reimbursement included a conference registration fee of $790. This fee is not supported with a credit card statement or cancelled check. Rather, there is typed document indicating a charge to one of Sheriff Hingle’s credit cards. A review of Sheriff Hingle’s credit card statements shows this registration fee was not incurred on this credit card.”
“A representative of the Street Crimes Program informed us that because Sheriff Hingle and Major Mouriz did not attend the conference, they were not charged the registration fee,” the report went on to say.
“According to Major Mouriz, he and Sheriff Hingle did not attend the conference. Because Sheriff Hingle and Major Mouriz did not attend this conference, we question the entire $3,744 of expenses reimbursed for this trip.”
Sheriff Lafrance has said that, due to this being a personnel matter, his office will make no further comments.
However, Lafrance did respond to the legislative audit report in November 2011 that indicted the charges against Hingle and others in the PPSO.
“I have implemented and strengthened policies and procedures to comply with all of your recommendations,” Lafrance said. “I have also begun planning for Code of Ethics in-service training for all of our employees. I hope that your office can see that I have taken every step to ensure compliance and to prevent such actions in the future. I also hope that the implemented policy changes illustrate that such actions will not be tolerated. Under no circumstances will we allow the alleged actions of one individual to be deemed the standard held by our office or allow such actions to tarnish the reputations of the dedicated and hard working men and women of the sheriff’s office.”
Hingle was due to be sentenced early in March, but it was recently announced that both Hingle and co-conspirator Aaron Bennett have been cooperating with authorities on other impending investigations, thusly their sentencing hearings have been delayed until May 2012, to allow enough time for them to fully disclose their knowledge of further illegal activity in the Parish.