An ex-Public Service Commission employee who says he was fired for exposing ethics problems at the agency comes before the state Civil Service Commission Wednesday.
Harold Lasserre, Jr. an 11-year commission employee, says in court documents he was fired because of his “cooperation with agencies investigating wrongdoing at the Public Service Commission.” Those agencies included the Legislative Auditor, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Internal Revenue Service, Lasserre says.
The PSC disputes Lasserre’s claim, saying he was let go for travel expense fraud failing to reimburse the PSC for a charge that was ultimately credited back to him.
Lasserre, in turn, claims he was pressured by PSC secretary Lawrence “Tubby” St. Blanc to doctor statistics in order to justify salary increases for Mississippi river pilots. The pilots’ high salaries $330,00 per year have been controversial.
The PSC received a scathing review from the Legislative Auditor last spring which suggested lax oversight of the utility companies that make up its principal purview.
Last week, another auditor’s report pointed to St. Blanc as the recipient of thousands of dollars worth of free meals from companies regulated by the PSC.
At Wednesday’s hearing, a Civil Service Commission referee could either let the firing stand, or give Lasserre his job back.
The former economics division supervisor is also pursuing his claims against the PSC in Baton Rouge civil district court.