Councilman cleared of charges

Says school officials asked him to house teachers, and a government official gave him the OK to help his mother

A St. Rose Fire Chief and St. Charles Parish Councilman that allowed his mother to live in a FEMA trailer attached to the fire station and use public utilities free of charge for more than two years will not face criminal charges.

St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel, Jr. says that no charges will be filed against Fire Chief and Councilman Larry Cochran and the investigation is closed.
According to the investigative report, Cochran’s mother, Jewel Daniels, reimbursed the fire department for all of the utilities she used from December 2005 to March 2008.

Cochran estimated that the cost of his mother’s electricity bill was $27 monthly, the water bill was $14, and she paid a rental fee of $35 for use of the public property.
Daniels paid around $2,888 for the utilities used at the fire station during the years she lived there.

St. Charles Parish school teacher Elizabeth McKee and her husband, who also lived at the fire station during that time frame, were not asked to reimburse their portion of the utilities.

Captain Roland Ladreyt conducted the investigation and determined that no further action should be taken. However, he requested that the investigation be reviewed by Morel.

In the report, Cochran said he contacted Emergency Operations Center Director Tab Troxler and received permission to house his mother in the FEMA trailer attached to the fire station. Troxler says he cannot authorize anyone to do anything with a fire station or fire station property.
Cochran says he housed teachers at the fire station because St. Charles Parish School representatives asked him to. In the transcript, Cochran says that Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard and Larry Sesser came to him and asked if teachers could be housed at the station so that schools could start as soon as possible.

Cancienne-Touchard is the school’s director of public information and Sesser, who recently retired from the position, was the assistant superintendent of schools at the time.

Both Cancienne-Touchard and Sesser deny giving permission to Cochran. They say they didn’t have the authority to make that decision.

Cochran says  teachers moved into the fire station shortly following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Altogether, including displaced firefighters, teachers and their families, 60 people were housed at the station. Then, several months after the storm, a majority of those moved out, leaving three teachers and their families at the fire house. The teachers, including their family members, amounted to 12 people. Two of the teachers and their families left in 2006. Cochran says in the report that the McKee family was the last to move out, doing so on May 1, 2008.


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