New Orleans firm paid improperly from bridge tolls

Alejandro de los Rios Jan. 5, 2011, 8:11am


Louisiana Transportation Secretary Sherri LeBas said that nearly $60,000 in tolls from the Crescent City Connection (CCC) bridge were improperly used to pay New Orleans law firm Pickering & Cotogno for work on the Louisiana 1 toll bridge in Leeville.

The announcement came through a Dec. 29 letter to Daryl Purpera, the state legislative auditor, and was first reported in yesterday's Times-Picayune. Purpera's office also released an audit back in September that showed other CCC revenue was improperly used for the Leeville bridge.

Pickering and Cotogno represents the CCC and was paid $59,600 for work on the Leeville bridge in an apparent violation of state law. Surplus in toll revenue is supposed to go to road improvements on New Orleans' West Bank.

LeBas said the CCC will be reimbursed through the state transportation trust fund. An email to Kenneth Pickering, a partner at P&C, seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Pickering's firm submitted invoices to the CCC that included work completed with CCC administrators related to developing the Leeville bridge. The invoices for Leeville and CCC work were listed on the same pages.

"I'm the attorney; I don't do the bookkeeping," Pickering told the Times-Picayune.

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