State Inspector General Stephen Street says his office's investigation into allegations against Fourth Judicial District Court law clerk Allyson Campbell revealed no cause to arrest her, as first reported by The Ouachita Citizen.
The Office of State Inspector General and State Police were called on last year by Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones to investigate accusations that Campbell had committed payroll fraud and had destroyed and/or concealed records in cases before the court.
Though the Inspector General’s office says it found no reason to recommend criminal charges be filed against Campbell, The Ouachita Citizen has confirmed a State Police investigation into the court’s activities is still underway.
According to a letter obtained by The Ouachita Citizen, Street informed Jones by letter on April 15 the Inspector General's office had concluded its investigation.
“Because the available facts do not provide sufficient cause for the arrest of Ms. Campbell for any criminal offense, we are closing our file and taking no further action on this matter,” Street wrote.
The Office of State Inspector General is an independent state office tasked with investigating public corruption cases. The Inspector General answers to the governor.
Investigators assigned to the court probe were Inspector General investigator Heath Humble and State Police Det. Ron Huey.
Accusations that Campbell had destroyed or intentionally withheld court documents first surfaced in a motion filed to recuse Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Wilson Rambo from presiding over a civil lawsuit filed by Monroe businessman Stanley R. Palowsky III against his former business partner, Brandon Cork, and others. Campbell is Rambo's law clerk.
“Information surfaced of Judge Rambo’s law clerk withholding and shredding court documents and causing delays in the present litigation,” Palowsky's attorneys wrote in the motion to recuse Rambo. “Still, other information surfaced about Judge Rambo’s law clerk delaying scores of writ applications and had, actually, used such court records as an end table in her office.”
Palowsky's attorneys also claimed they could prove Campbell had committed payroll fraud. An audit of the court's finances, released in early 2015 by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, revealed some court employees may have earned pay for hours they did not work.
Those allegations against Campbell later became the subject of Palowsky's lawsuit against Campbell and against five district court judges including Rambo, Fred Amman, Stephens Winters, Carl Sharp and retired Judge Ben Jones, the court administrator. Last month, the accusations were revived in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District by Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Sharon Marchman who claimed her civil rights were violated for attempting to disclose Campbell’s activities.
“Ms. Campbell was interviewed and denied destroying or hiding any court records or pleadings,” Street wrote in his letter. “She stated that her work schedule was approved by her supervisor and that she worked the hours for which she was paid. Judge Carl Sharp supported her claim that all court documents were always available to him. He also confirmed that Ms. Campbell was a salaried employee whose hours were sometimes irregular.”
According to Street's letter, the court's management of employees made it impossible to determine how many hours Campbell worked “on any given workday.”
“Investigators confirmed that alleged violations of policy applicable to Ms. Campbell were investigated and addressed by 4th JDC authorities,” Street wrote.
Others interviewed during the investigation included an attorney and his client lodging the allegations (the pair are unidentified in Street's letter), other local attorneys, several judges of the court, current court administrator and Jones, the court administrator. Former court administrator Laura Hartt, employees of the Clerk of Court's office as well as law clerks and judicial assistants were interviewed, too.
The investigation was prompted by a criminal complaint filed last year with Jones, the district attorney, by The Ouachita Citizen. The Ouachita Citizen asked Jones to initiate a probe into the accusations against Campbell in light of the Fourth Judicial District Court's refusal to provide the newspaper with public records contained in Campbell's personnel file.
Shortly after The Ouachita Citizen filed the criminal complaint, the district court filed a lawsuit against the newspaper over its public records requests. Later an ad hoc judge ruled against the newspaper's public records requests though claims in recent litigation suggests some district court judges manipulated the documents pertaining to Campbell that were turned over to the ad hoc judge for her review.