In a less-than-shocking news article by Times Picayune Reporter, David Hammer, the City of New Orleans again finds itself in the center of a fraud and ethics scandal as it comes to light that the city has paid its third party claims administrator in excess of $522,000 over the last two years to retain the services of an unlicensed private investigator with a history of 19 felony convictions involving fraud and witness tampering.
Cannon Cochran Management Services, Inc. (CCMSI) retained Dwayne Alexander, owner of the World Wide Detective Agency, from 2000 to 2009 to investigate and conduct surveillance on city workers with liability claims.
Despite 17 expunged felony convictions of filing false public records for allegedly using false names to pawn gold jewelry eight years earlier, Alexander was able to obtain his private investigator license in 1997. In 2006, the Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners (LSBPIE) cited Dwayne Alexander after evidence surfaced of his plagiarism of another subcontracted private investigator’s investigative reports, overbilling of Louisiana’s Office of Risk Management and then failing to pay the subcontractor. Before LSBPIE could take corrective action against Alexander he let his state PI license lapse.
CCMSI has publicly stated that they did not know about his lapsed license while using the Worldwide Detective Agency in 2007 and 2008. They severed their relationship with Alexander as soon as they found out he was not licensed when Louisiana private investigator, Wayne Centanni, and non-profit anti-corruption watchdog, Metropolitan Crime Commission, Inc . began asking questions. While unlicensed,it is reported that CCMSI paid Dwayne Alexander $237,473 in 2007 and $285,561 in 2008. David Hammer mused that at Alexander’s stated investigative rate of $50 per hour, he would have had to work 366 16-hour days in 2008 to justify his billing.
Alexander contended that he could legally conduct investigations on behalf of CCMSI for the City of New Orleans without a private investigator license because he was an employee of CCMSI. CCMSI denies that Dwayne Alexander was ever a bona fide employee of the corporation and acted as an independent contractor. In February of 2009, however, LSBPIE ruled that he did need a license and ordered him to discontinue all regulated investigative activity.
While all of this was transpiring, Alexander pleaded guilty in April of 2007 to 2 felony charges of tax fraud and for obstruction of justice as a result of his connection with “The Canal Street Cartel,” an “ambulance-chasing ring” of New Orleans lawyers exposed by a Federal Bureau of Investigations operation in 1999. The FBI identified Alexander and a relative as “runners” whose job was to bring clients into the personal injury law firms.
There is a great deal more to this story, including questions regarding CCMSI’s actual performance, Alexander’s mysterious investigation of former Louisiana governor, Mike Foster and Alexander’s $100,000 lawsuit for unpaid overtime expenses. The entire story really does read like the basis of a good suspense novel…
My favorite line in the entire story in the assertion by Alexander’s current legal team that argue his criminal past somehow makes him better at ferreting out bogus liability claims, despite any data available to prove the claim.
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