Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones provided The Ouachita Citizen and Louisiana State Police with two different accounts last week on the status of a State Police investigation of Fourth Judicial District Court.
Jones’ conflicting statements, following a report by The Ouachita Citizen on his involvement in the court probe, blocked the newspaper from obtaining a report on the court investigation through a public records request.
Last week, The Ouachita Citizen published a report, “District Attorney Jerry Jones’ actions cripple court probe,” which detailed how Jones had offered a contradictory account of his communications with investigators whom he called on to investigate allegations that law clerk Allyson Campbell committed payroll fraud and destroyed or concealed court documents.
The Ouachita Citizen’s report in the newspaper’s May 26 edition also revealed how Jones had filed a misleading document with the court over his recusal, how the district attorney did not forward this newspaper’s criminal complaint against the court to investigators, and how he was tied to judges accused in related litigation of covering up Campbell’s alleged wrongdoing.
After the publication of the report, Jones asked to meet with newspaper reporters on Friday, May 27. At that time, Jones told two Ouachita Citizen reporters the State Police investigation was closed and he had received the State Police investigators’ report. The Ouachita Citizen had previously submitted a public records request to State Police for a copy of the report but was denied the report on directions from Jones to State Police.
“The investigation is closed, and I got the State Police report the day after you ran that story,” Jones said. “It says a lot.”
When asked to specify the contents of the State Police report, Jones said, “I’m not going to tell you.”
Later that day, The Ouachita Citizen learned Jones misspoke or was not forthright when he said the investigation was closed.
Following Friday’s interview with Jones, The Ouachita Citizen submitted a public records request to State Police for a copy of its report on the investigation of the district court. In response, Maj. Doug Cain, a spokesman for State Police, informed The Ouachita Citizen he had followed up with Jones, who said the investigation was still open, a classification that bars the release of the document under state law.
“I just spoke with the district attorney and he says that investigation is still open, so we can’t release it,” Cain said.
Jones previously said the State Police report on its investigation of the district court challenged the findings of a state Inspector General’s investigation of the court. The IG investigation said there was no “sufficient cause” to arrest Campbell.