Former U.S. attorney takes on Livingston Parish debris fight

Former U.S. attorney takes on Livingston Parish debris fight

Former Baton Rouge U.S. Attorney David Dugas may soon be reimmersing himself in two areas he frequented as a federal prosecutor: the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Livingston Parish politics.

The Livingston Parish Council has hired McGlinchey Stafford law firm to represent it in a $52 million lawsuit filed against it by IED, the Alabama contractor responsible for clearing storm debris after Hurricane Gustav.

FEMA has so far refused to reimburse the parish for the work, alleging much of it was improper. Payment of the massive bill remains in dispute, and the heart of the matter rests on whether the Livingston Parish Council will be on the hook for any cleanup that didn't meet FEMA requirements.

If federal rules permit, Dugas is expected to handle the case. The attorney is no stranger to FEMA or Livingston Parish. While U.S. attorney, he was director of the Department of Justice's National Center for Disaster Fraud and executive director of the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force. He also served as co-chair of the U.S. Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Policy Committee.

Dugas also prosecuted former Livingston Parish President Dewey Ratcliff and former Livingston Parish Councilman Robert Ringo. Dugas referred a request for comment to fellow attorney Daniel Plunkett, who is acting as lead lawyer until the firm can confirm that Dugas is clear to work on the case.

Dugas was appointed by President George W. Bush and took office in October 2001. He joined McGlinchey Stafford in April 2010.

"Anytime an employee of the federal government leaves office, particularly when you're talking about someone who served as a U.S. attorney, rules and consideration come into play concerning what matters they can work on when move they into private sector," Plunkett tells Daily Report. "We want to be very cautious as we're reviewing the circumstances of this case not to violate any of those rules. I'm serving as the lead lawyer right now, and that may continue, depending on how circumstances play out."

Plunkett declined to discuss any specifics of the case, other than to say he understands it is "not actively being litigated at the moment."

Editor's note: This story has been changed since its original publication.

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