HOUMA — The Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority failed to notify
the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that the group
had settled two federal lawsuits.
According to a report
by Houma Today, HUD learned of the settlements after reading articles
in two local newspapers. If federal lawsuits are settled using money
from HUD’s general fund, there would be a problem. However, funds
for the two settlements came from other sources.
In a special meeting Feb. 16, according to the Daily
Comet, the Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority concluded there
were no violations to HUD regulations when it settled the lawsuits.
The Housing Authority’s attorney, Jacob Dagate, confirmed that no
rules were violated in regards to the settlements.
“HUD thought the settlements were paid out of the general fund,
but they were not,” Terrebonne Commissioner Barry Bonvillian told
the Louisiana Record. “No laws were broken and HUD
determined it was done properly.”
The Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority settled lawsuits from 2009
The 2009 lawsuit
involved a claim by Terrebonne Parish NAACP President Jerome Boykin
and the authority’s former executive director, Wayne Thibodeaux.
Thibodeaux allegedly made defamatory fliers about Boykin while he was
running for the state senate. Thibodeaux denied ever making the
fliers, but the Housing Authority Insurance Group settled the case
The Housing Authority also settled a lawsuit alleging Thibodeaux
fired Tyrikia Porter, an employee at the Housing Authority, because
she testified against him at a grievance hearing. Porter accused
Thibodeaux of sexual harassment until she left in 2012. The Housing
Authority settled for $29,000 on the advice of counsel, despite
Thibodeaux's opposition to the settlement.
Thibodeaux was hired in April 2006 and fired Jan. 26 of this year
in a 3-2
vote with Bonvillian. Allan Luke and Charletta Lyons voting in
favor, while Chester Dillard and Gordon Landry were opposed.
“I requested from our secretary all information on all of the
different lawsuits,” Bonvillian said. “She turned everything over
to HUD when they requested it.”
that the Housing Authority is facing involves a mother whose daughter
was shot and killed in a 2014 standoff. Lisa Baker is suing the
Housing Authority, alleging that on-site security did not do enough
in protecting her daughter, Barbara Baker, from her ex-boyfriend,
Skylleur Hayes. Lisa Baker alleges that the Housing Authority was
aware that her daughter had a restraining order against Hayes. Hayes
was convicted of her daughter’s murder.
"From my talking with the accounting department here,
regarding any payments out of the general fund, the only case where
that would arise would be the (Boykin) case. That was not paid as a
settlement. That was paid as an insurance deductible. That's
something that's different, but that's something we'll report back to
HUD and see what they say,” Jacob Dagate, attorney for the housing
the Daily Comet.
In both settlements, the insurance company for the Housing
Authority paid the settlements, so HUD’s general fund was not used.
“In the future, HUD wants to be notified before any settlements
are made,” Bonvillian said.