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'Too Big for Their Britches'?

Sue Lincoln
Burl Cain at Press Club, Feb. 2015

Burl Cain may be gone as Angola’s warden, but he’s far from forgotten, as the Legislative Audit Advisory Council looked into allegations of wrongdoing.

Paging through the January 2017 investigative audit, New Orleans Senator Wesley Bishop had a question for Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera.

“I think I’ve seen 8 or 9 times ‘Warden Cain may have violated state law’, ‘may have violated the law’, on and on. What is the next step?”

“The law requires me to submit it to both the district attorney, to the attorney general, and oftentimes to the U.S. Attorney – depending on the situation,” Purpera replied. “Those things have been done and we are working with those individuals currently.”

The audit shows Cain housed and/or fed his family members at Angola -- without reimbursing the state – some 188 times. It also alleges he had state employees working on five of his personal properties, including a cabin in Tennessee, often while they were on the clock. Alexandria Senator Jay Luneau is outraged.

“Under no circumstances should an employee even be allowed to work at their supervisor’s home – on their time off or any other time!” Luneau said. “In fact, I think there should be rules in place that it’s mandatory for employees to report things like this.”

Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter had questions for Corrections Secretary Jimmy Leblanc.

“You mentioned that he (Cain) was asked to step down but he stayed on for 9 months, is that correct?”

“Yeah, he was on leave,” Leblanc replied.

“Was he paid? Was it paid leave?” Hunter pressed.

“Paid leave, yeah.”

Hunter asked why the leave payments weren’t docked, to recoup some of the money Cain allegedly owes the state. Leblanc said these reports all came out after Cain had retired.

Erath Representative Blake Miguez, who recently asked the legislative auditor to look into state police regarding similar suspected wrongdoing, commented:

“It just seems like the state of Louisiana is starting to have a problem with officials that may have been in place for a long time, getting too big for their britches.”

State Police Col. Mike Edmonson is retiring Friday, partly as a result of the matters under investigation. He has served as commander of LSP for over nine years – the same amount of time Leblanc, his boss, has been Secretary of Public Safety and Corrections.