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ADA Harold Bartholomew Panelist for Elder Financial Exploitation Event

Assistant District Attorney Harold S. Bartholomew will be among the panelists speaking at a town hall in Baton Rouge Thursday (Oct. 18) about preventing elder financial exploitation. The event will be held at Independence Park Theatre, 7800 Independence Blvd. Bartholomew, an expert in elder abuse prosecutions, will join other industry leaders and state officials in the discussion. For more information, click here:  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/events/town-hall-baton-rouge-la-preventing-elder-financial-exploitation/

District Attorney’s Office Launches Legal Education Program With St. Tammany School

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2018

COVINGTON—District Attorney Warren Montgomery’s Office launched a new legal education program at William Pitcher Junior High School today (Aug. 24) in partnership with St. Tammany Parish Schools to teach schoolchildren about the criminal justice system and help them make good choices.

The program, called Kids LEAD (Legal Education And Discovery), also will introduce the students to a variety of legal careers by providing speakers each week on a different legal topic for the entire semester.

“I am excited about bringing this much-needed program to St. Tammany Parish schools,” Montgomery said. “It will help our children think about the choices they make and the sometimes life-altering consequences.”

The program’s first session kicked off at 10 a.m. Friday with District Judge William J. Knight, who talked to the students about the consequences of their choices. Other speakers on the agenda include Assistant District Attorney Collin Sims, Criminal Division Chief, who will provide an overview of the criminal justice system; and Assistant District Attorney Ronnie Gracianette, who will engage the students in an interactive activity in which they act as members of a grand jury and make decisions in a fictitious case. The students also will hear from representatives of the Louisiana Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, MADD, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office, Louisiana Department of Probation and Parole, ADAPT Rape Crisis Center, and more.

The program is designed to educate students about the criminal justice system and help them steer clear of trouble.

“We are so excited to be a part of the program that District Attorney’s office is initiating,” said Amy T. Burns, Principal of William Pitcher. “I am appreciative of the opportunity that it affords my students to have a better understanding of why good choices are so important in life.”

 

Community Gathers At Franklinton Courthouse To Recognize Crime Victims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 17, 2018

FRANKLINTON—Victims of crime, their supporters, service providers, public officials, and other community members joined District Attorney Warren Montgomery for a ceremony that his office hosted Thursday (April 12) in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 8-14).

The event, held at the Washington Parish courthouse, opened outside with a dramatic raising of an oversize flag by the Franklinton Fire Department, followed by the presentation of colors by military units from Franklinton High School and Bogalusa High School. Guests later moved indoors to a second-floor courtroom for the remainder of the program, which included a keynote speech from Montgomery.

Montgomery said he and his staff never lose sight of the victims when they prosecute cases. “There is no greater job satisfaction than when we hear from victims and their families that they feel like justice was served,” he said.

Montgomery discussed some of the changes he has made since taking office, including adding three full-time Victim Assistance Coordinators, who help keep victims informed of the status of their cases and assist them through the prosecution process.  Before Montgomery took office in 2015, one person handled the entire caseload in Washington and St. Tammany parishes.

Other speakers included Franklinton Police Chief Olander Smith and his wife, Elisa Williams-Smith, who discussed the trauma of losing her 13-year-old son when a drunk driver struck the vehicle in which he was riding. Rhonda Gunnell of ADAPT Rape Crisis Center in Bogalusa talked about the services her agency offers.

ADAPT was among the recipients of the Victim Services Award, presented by Montgomery for extraordinary services on behalf of victims. Other award recipients included: Assistant District Attorney Ronnie Gracianette and Cathy Haley, a felony secretary who organized a toy drive for young victims in Washington Parish last Christmas. The Tomorrow’s Leader Award was presented to Delaney Stewart, 18, a senior at Pine High School, for outstanding leadership and service to victims. Montgomery also presented a number of certificates to staff members, community volunteers, and business donors who contributed to the event’s success.

The event was coordinated by Kinshasha Medina, Victim Assistance Coordinator in Washington Parish. Other program participants included Rev. Albert Brumfield, Pastor of Plainview Church of Christ Holiness in Mount Hermon, who delivered the invocation; Leanne Adcox, who sang the National Anthem; Deidra Owens, who sang “What About The Children,” and Bro. Tom Descant, Pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church of Franklinton, who delivered the benediction.

The program ended with a balloon release by guests, which included crime survivors and family members of crime victims.

A military unit from Franklinton High School presents the colors at the National Crime Victims’ Rights ceremony hosted by D.A. Montgomery’s Office in Washington Parish.

District Attorney Warren Montgomery, greets guests at the National Crime Victims’ Rights ceremony hosted his office in Washington Parish.

The Franklinton Fire Department raised an oversize flag for the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem at the National Crime Victims’ Rights ceremony hosted by D.A. Montgomery’s Office in Washington Parish.

Guests, including survivors of crime and family members of crime victims, released dozens of colorful balloons into the air at the closing of the National Crime Victims’ Rights ceremony hosted by D.A. Montgomery’s Office in Washington Parish.

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week – Powerful Event in Washington Parish

District Attorney Warren Montgomery wishes to thank all who participated in the ceremony his office hosted yesterday at the Washington Parish Courthouse in Franklinton as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 8-14). It was a poignant event and powerful reminder that the victims and survivors of crime are why we do what we do. D.A. Montgomery was the keynote speaker, but other speakers included Franklinton Police Chief Olander Smith, Rhonda Gunnell of ADAPT Rape Crisis Center in Bogalusa, and Elisa Williams-Smith, whose 13-year-old son was killed in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The program was organized primarily by Kinshasha Medina, Victim Assistance Coordinator in the District Attorney’s Washington Parish office.

STPPS 2018-2019 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR AND PRINCIPALS OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED

Three teachers and three principals have been selected as the 2018-2019 St. Tammany Parish Public School System Teachers and Principals of the Year.

Named as 2018-2019 District Teachers of the Year are Malinda Meyer, Folsom Elementary in the Elementary Division; Lauren Bethancourt, Boyet Junior High in the Middle/Junior High Division; and Dr. Todd Tarifa, Northshore High in the High School Division.

The 2018-2019 Principals of the Year are Jeanine Barnes from Lyon Elementary in the Elementary Division; Mary Ann Cucchiara from Mandeville Junior High in the Middle/Junior High Division; and Saudah Blackman-Stokes from Salmen High in the High School Division.

“These six outstanding educators are extremely dedicated and devote their energy, passion and creativity to help their students succeed,” said Superintendent Trey Folse. “They are great examples of the difference teachers and school leaders make in our schools and community.”

Barnes also has been selected as a semi-finalist in the 2019 Louisiana Principal of the Year program held by the Louisiana Department of Education which honors the most exceptional school leaders from school systems across the state. She is among 24 principals selected to continue in the competition. Finalists will be announced in May, and all semi-finalists and finalists will be honored July 27th at the Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium in Baton Rouge where the state winners will be announced.

Teachers and Principals of the Year are selected based on their success with students and, for principals, their work to support teachers. Each year, one teacher and one principal at each level – elementary, middle/ junior high and high school – are selected as the district level winners and move on to compete in the state competition.

Malinda Meyer has been a teacher for over 19 years and has taught kindergarten at Folsom Elementary since 2015. She has collaborated with administrators and teachers to implement district curriculum for regular and special education students. She serves on her school Leadership Team, School Improvement Team, Computer Committee, Hospitality Committee and Math and Literacy Committee. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in early childhood from the University of New Orleans.

Lauren Bethancourt has taught 8th grade science at Boyet Jr. High for three years. As her school’s Science Department Head, she facilitates professional development workshops and leads collaborative planning between teachers. She is a member of the School Improvement Plan Committee and is chair of the Boyet Jr. High Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports program. She received her bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and her teaching certification from the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators.

 

Dr. Todd Tarifa has been a teacher for over 20 years and has taught agriscience at Northshore High since 2013. He teaches agriscience, NCCER carpentry, small animal and horticulture, and also serves as assistant varsity girls basketball coach and head cross country coach. As the FFA Executive Board Sponsor, he works with students to plan FFA educational and community events and to compete in district, regional and state livestock shows. He received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree from Louisiana State University.

Jeanine Barnes was appointed principal of Lyon Elementary in 2005 after previously serving as assistant principal at the school. She has been an educator for 35 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and her master’s degree from Centenary College.

Mary Ann Cucchiara has been the principal of Mandeville Jr. High for 15 years. She previously served as assistant principal at Covington High and Resource Helping Teacher at Pitcher Jr. High. She has been an educator for 35 years. She received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree plus 30 from Southeastern Louisiana University.

Saudah Blackman-Stokes was appointed principal of Salmen High in 2016 after previously serving as assistant principal at the school. She has been an educator for 21 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and her master’s degree from Mercer University.

 

D.A. Warren Montgomery Helps Nearly 100 People Get Fresh Start with Expungements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dec. 1, 2017

D.A. Warren Montgomery Helps Nearly 100 People Get Fresh Start with Expungements

A new program implemented by District Attorney Warren Montgomery assisted nearly 100 men and women in getting a fresh start by clearing old arrests and convictions for relatively minor crimes from their criminal records.

The Fresh Start Program pre-screened participants to assure they met the criteria under state law for a legal process called expungement, and those who were eligible were invited to participate on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. Tammany Parish Justice Center. The program reduced the fees from the usual $550 per expungement to $100 and expedited the process by bringing all of the agencies needed to sign off on the paperwork together in one room.

“The program was a tremendous success,” Montgomery said. “There were lots of smiles and even some tears, as participants realized what this will mean to their lives, a better job or a chance to advance on the job. In turn, their stability and productivity help to create a safer community for us all.”

Montgomery said the program would not have been possible without the help of many people, including St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court Melissa Henry, Washington Parish Clerk of Court Johnny Crain, St. Tammany Sheriff Randy Smith and Washington Parish Sheriff Randy “Country” Seal, who all waived their agencies’ fees to make the expungement process more affordable. The fees alone usually cost $550.  Montgomery also waived his office’s fees and raised funds from community donors through the Northshore Community Foundation to help cover a portion of the remaining $250 Louisiana State Police fee , which is state mandated. The waived fees and community donations reduced each participant’s portion of the fee to $100.  Community donors included the Louisiana Bar Foundation, Northshore Business Council, Church of the King, Most Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Haynie Family Foundation, Buddy and Pat Hall and other individual donors.

The event began at 9 a.m. with volunteers from the participating agencies and three District Judges—William J. Burris, August J. Hand, and Reginald T. Badeaux, III—set up at various stations to receive the paperwork.  The pre-screened participants met with volunteer attorneys, who walked the paperwork through each of the stations to get the needed signatures. The District Attorney’s Office, the arresting agency in each case, and the clerks’ offices had been provided the names and records of participants in advance for review. The judges signed each order of expungement, and the clerks certified the records through closing time at 2 p.m.

A total of 93 men and women walked away with orders of expungement. Certain crimes are not eligible for expungement under state law, including violent crimes, crimes involving minors, crimes involving the distribution or manufacture of illegal drugs, possession of heroin and crimes that require sex offender registration.

Community partners included the Justice & Accountability Center of Louisiana, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, Louisiana United International, NAACP of St. Tammany, and the New Orleans Paralegal Association, who all assisted in the intake and screening of more than 300 potential applicants. Informational exhibits were set up in the halls outside the event by Delgado Community College, Northshore Technical Community College, Celebrate Recovery of First Baptist Church of Covington and Louisiana United International.

D.A. speaks at Expungement Clinic

District Attorney Warren Montgomery and Sonjanita Jordan, President of the New Orleans Paralegal Association, were among those who participated in the “Know Your Rights” expungement clinic, sponsored by Louisiana United International and the NAACP on July 15 in Slidell. The paralegal association volunteered its legal services, and Mr. Montgomery was one of the speakers.