City-Parish President Joey Durel fired Chief Information Officer Keith Thibodeaux this morning following federal court filings alleging Thibodeaux's involvement in kickback schemes orchestrated by Belle Chase tech vendor Mark St. Pierre. A press release from Lafayette Consolidated Government this morning states that "representatives and employees of Lafayette Consolidated Government have been cooperating fully with representatives of the United States Attorney's Office in the Eastern District for one year. All requests made by the United States Attorney's Office to Lafayette Consolidated Government for documentary information, as well as access to individuals, have been fully honored." The release also states that, based on the allegations, LCG reported Thibodeaux to the Louisiana Board of Ethics this morning for possible violations.
The LCG press release says Durel learned Tuesday that allegations about Thibodeaux were about to be made public. "Mr. Durel was informed late yesterday by Mr. Thibodeaux's attorney that Mr. Thibodeaux has been advised through a formal court pleading filed on Friday, October 1, 2010 in New Orleans that testimony will be offered in a pending criminal trial in the matter of United States v. Greg Meffert et al relative to Mr. Thibodeaux's alleged involvement in such matter,"the release states. "Mr. Thibodeaux has not been charged with any criminal conduct nor has he been informed that he will be charged. Nonetheless, federal prosecutors' characterization of Mr. Thibodeaux's involvement in the alleged scheme is a violation by Mr. Thibodeaux of LCG policy necessitating his immediate termination."
Meffert is the former chief technology officer for the city of New Orleans. He, along with his wife and St. Pierre, faces trial in January.U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is prosecuting St. Pierre and the Mefferts, alleging kickback schemes in exchange for contracts with the city of New Orleans for St. Pierre's company, NetMethods. The latest filing alleges the same type of quid pro quo was occurring in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. It reports that in 2005, St. Pierre hired Thibodeaux's wife, Celeste, for $80 an hour under a contract St. Pierre had with the city of New Orleans. St. Pierre then invoiced New Orleans City Hall more than $100,000 for the work. The same year, the city of Lafayette hired NetMethods for a $45,000 consulting contract. The contract later evolved into a deal for NetMethods to provide a crime camera system in Lafayette. The total amount LCG paid NetMethods is not disclosed, although The Times Picayune reports in its story today that the crime camera contract was worth at least $141,000. The Picayune also reports that email messages obtained by the paper show that Thibodeaux, Meffert and St. Pierre were in regular communication.
Thibodeaux was hired as Lafayette's first CIO in 2004 after Durel took office. Prior to that, Thibodeaux served in the same capacity for the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. He has also served as a board member of the Lafayette Immersive Technologies Enterprise and has been active with the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the Acadiana Center of the Arts. Thibodeaux did not return a call placed to his office this morning, and his cell phone number has recently been changed.
Tonia Khosropour, a 25-year LCG employee and a division head within the Department of Information Services and Technology, has been appointed interim CIO. The press release concludes, "due to the pending federal criminal proceedings and the filing with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, the administration of Lafayette Consolidated Government will have no further comment regarding these issues."