PRISON GUARD ARRESTED
Louisiana prison guard arrested in contraband probe
ST. GABRIEL, La. (AP) — A guard at a Louisiana prison faces charges after she allegedly tried to smuggle contraband to inmates at the facility. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, in a news release, said St. Gabriel police arrested Paige Destanie M. Ruiz, 21, of Prairieville, late Monday at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. Ruiz, a corrections cadet, had been a probational employee at the prison since May. The department said she will be fired. Ruiz faces several charges, including eight counts of introduction of contraband into a penal institution and malfeasance in office.
BC-US-CLERGY ABUSE-NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Judge denies media request to unseal files on Saints owner
A judge has denied a request by news organizations including The Associated Press to unseal court records involving the mental competency of billionaire Tom Benson when he rewrote his will to give his third wife ownership of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans sports franchises. Judge Kern Reese ruled Wednesday that Benson’s privacy rights didn’t change with his 2018 death. The news outlets argued interest in the 2015 case has been heightened by revelations this year that Saints executives engaged in a behind-the-scenes public relations campaign to help the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese contain fallout from a clergy abuse crisis.
LOUISIANA TAX BREAKS
Edwards signs business tax breaks passed in special session
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed into law the full multimillion-dollar package of business tax breaks that lawmakers passed in their June special session as a coronavirus recovery effort. The Democratic governor agreed to temporarily suspend part of the corporate franchise tax for one year, to give a sizable tax break to the state’s casinos and to expand tax credit programs that lawmakers previously curbed as giveaway programs that didn’t benefit the state. Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bills described the credits and exemptions as a needed boost to help businesses struggling with coronavirus closures and restrictions. Opponents called the bills a giveaway to business that will worsen budget uncertainty.
Pence urges school reopening in Louisiana amid virus surge
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence insisted schools should reopen to in-person instruction for students in a visit to Louisiana. The state has reemerged as one of the nation’s hot spots for the coronavirus only months after signs pointed to a successful outbreak response. The Republican vice president appeared at Louisiana State University with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and other state leaders. Pence described the nation as “in a much better position today to deal with the pandemic” even as virus cases surge across much of the country. Louisiana isn’t taking the wide-open approach sought by Pence. Schools are planning a mix of online and in-person learning this fall.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-LOUISIANA SCHOOLS
Louisiana board sets minimum standards for school reopenings
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Teachers and students will have to wear face coverings as much as possible. Schools will be limited to visitors. And classrooms for young students could become the equivalent of a one-room schoolhouse. Those provisions are included in new coronavirus regulations for Louisiana schools approved Tuesday by the state’s top school board. The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the minimum safety standards for schools reopening this fall a day before the deadline set by state lawmakers. The rules include a mask mandate for students in grades 3 through 12. But that regulation has language applying the face coverings “to the greatest extent possible and practical.”
RACIAL INJUSTICE-LOUISIANA DEATH
No prosecution in Black man’s 2018 custody death
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A suburban New Orleans district attorney says he won’t prosecute four sheriff’s deputies in connection with the asphyxiation death of a Black man during an arrest in 2018. Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick released a 27-page report Tuesday on his investigation into the death of 22-year-old Keeven Robinson. Robinson’s death has been the subject of multiple protests in Jefferson Parish, where the coroner said there were signs of trauma on Robinson’s neck. Connick said an investigation showed Jefferson deputies used justifiable force during an attempt to arrest him on drug charges. A civil lawsuit by Robinson’s family continues.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-ATTORNEY GENERAL
Louisiana attorney general has coronavirus, is in quarantine
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is quarantining himself after testing positive for the coronavirus. His spokesman said Tuesday that the prominent state Republican has no symptoms of COVID-19, but that he’s taking medications prescribed by his doctor and isolating at his property in Louisiana. Landry spokesman Millard Mule told The Associated Press the attorney general got tested for the coronavirus because he had planned to attend events with Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday. Pence’s trip to Louisiana is meant to focus on the pandemic response just as the state sees a resurgence in coronavirus infections.
Probation for ex-state senator who lied to federal agency
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former Louisiana state senator has been sentenced to probation for lying to a federal agency about a hurricane recovery loan. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans says 52-year-old Wesley Bishop was sentenced in federal court Tuesday. He had pleaded guilty in January. Bishop was accused of lying to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by falsely claiming certain individuals were tenants at his rental property that was renovated with federal dollars through a state program. As part of his plea agreement, Bishop agreed to pay $188,000 in restitution to the state office that administers the federal agency’s Small Rental Property Program.