Future of hospital board chair uncertain after arrest

Charged with falsifying community service records in Morel case

John J. Landry III’s future as chairman of the St. Charles Parish Hospital Board is uncertain after he was arrested and charged with conspiring to file or filing falsified public records in connection with former District Attorney Harry Morel Jr.’s federal case.

Landry, a resident of Des Allemands and owner of the Boutte Bingo Hall, could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Council Chair Wendy Benedetto said Landry had not notified her as of  Wednesday on whether he would resign as board chair. If the position became open, Benedetto said  the council would act on filling it or the board’s vice chair person could take over his duties.

Council members Paul Hogan and Billy Woodruff both say Landry should resign if he’s found guilty of the charges.“If he doesn’t resign, we should ask him to resign,” said Woodruff. “If he’s falsifying reports, it’s the same as malfeasance.”

Hogan added, “We need his resignation and, if he doesn’t resign, we just need to remove him provided the accusations are correct. Everybody’s innocent until proven guilty.”The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office confirmed Landry’s arrest and charges are connected with Morel’s case in which the former DA pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in April.

Morel’s charge resulted from a federal investigation where he was accused of trading leniency in return for sex with up to 20 women over nearly two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ states, “While soliciting sex from these individuals, Morel likewise used the office of the District Attorney to provide benefits to these other individuals, including falsifying community service reports.”

In his guilty plea, Morel said he helped Danelle Keim, a key witness who wore a wire in the FBI Investigation that led to the former DA’s conviction. He is accused of securing a favor from a friend at the Luling-Boutte Lions Club in the parish.

Landry’s charges stem from allegations that it was him who falsified the community service documents for Keim on Morel’s behalf. Landry was president of the club.State AG Jeff Landry said John Landry’s charges resulted from the joint efforts of the FBI and St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

“The people of Louisiana should know government officials, elected and appointed, are accountable for their actions,” the AG said in a June 21 statement. “As Louisiana Attorney General, I am committed to my pledge to rule out public corruption in Louisiana.”

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said Landry was arrested at 7 p.m. Monday and charged with four counts each of filing and maintaining false public records, as well as four counts of conspiracy to file and maintain false public records.

Landry was released from Nelson Coleman Correctional Center on $30,000 bond shortly after his arrest.

Ochsner, which manages St. Charles Hospital in conjunction with the hospital board, issued a statement on Landry’s status with the board.

“While we cannot comment on the personal actions of anyone involved, we note that the events in question are in no way related to Mr. Landry’s role as a hospital board member.

“In addition, as the manager of operations, Ochsner does not own the assets of the hospital or play a role in the selection of the board. At this time, we continue to ensure that patients receive the care they need and we remain committed to the St. Charles Parish community.”

 

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