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Online Sentinel International (OSI)

Inside the Eye of Hurricane Katrina's Aftermath

GerardstandingShelia.JPG
Retired Sgt. Gerard Dugue & wife Sheila 2010

 

"Gerard the Good"

Friends come forward to defend Dugué

EXCLUSIVE: Special to Online Sentinel International (OSI)

by Firpo Carr

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 (OSI)--Long-time friends of retired Sgt. Gerard Dugué, a 33-year veteran of New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), are coming forth in droves to defend his character. Though Dugué was indicted along with "Katrina's Killer Kops" (several of whom have confessed to murder), stunned family, friends, and colleagues insist that "Gerard the Good" has been saintly in carrying out his duties of over three decades of faithful service to his community and to the great, resilient city of New Orleans. If one's character can be judged by who he grew up with, then indeed much can be said about the character of Gerard Dugué.

"When he was in his pre-teens," says younger brother Virgil, "my two oldest brothers, Albert, Jr. and Gerard, used to hang out with their close friends, Dennis and Michael Bagneris." Reminiscing fondly Virgil continues, "We all lived in the Desire Housing Projects, one of the roughest in the nation. Even given the challenging environment, Albert, Jr., Gerard, Dennis, and Michael were in their own little innocent world as they swapped comic books on a regular basis." Regularly associating with Bagneris brothers may seem of little significance until one considers just who they are and what they have accomplished.

Judge Dennis R. Bagneris: Former State Senator Dennis R. Bagneris served the great state of Louisiana in that capacity for 14 years, after which he ran for judge-won--and has been serving as a judge now for 12 years. Here is how one source describes the judge's background:

"Judge Dennis R. Bagneris is a judge on the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. He was first elected to the court in 1999.

"A native of New Orleans, Judge Bagneris is a graduate of St. Augustine High School and Xavier University in 1970 (B.A. History/Political Science). He later earned a Master's degree in Guidance and Counseling from Xavier University and his Juris Doctorate from Tulane University Law School in 1981. Judge [Bagneris] was a case worker for the Louisiana Department of Public Welfare, probation officer in the New Orleans Alcohol Safety Action Project, and recruiter/counselor at Xavier University until he graduated from law school.

"He and his wife, Renee' Wing Bagneris, have four children [and six grandchildren].

"Judge Bagneris has received Appreciation Awards from Concerned Citizens for Better Government, 1985; Crusade Award, La. Voter Registration Education, 1986; American Assn. of Retired Persons in 1990; Citizen Reddy Education in 1992; and the Louisiana Association of the Deaf in 1993.

"Other awards include the following: 1987, Sidney N. Collier Memorial Award; 1989-1990, Meritorious Service, La. Legislative Black Caucus; 1990, Distinguished Service Award, LAE; 1990, Senator of the Year, LFT; 1992, Certificate of Merit, City of New Orleans; 1992, Recognition Award, AABE; 1992, Meritorious Leadership Award, Anheuser-Busch Cos.; 1992, Outstanding Legislator Award, Victims & Citizens Against Crime; 1994, Appreciation Award, Reality House; 1994, Legislator of the Year Award, ARC of Louisiana; and in 1995, Outstanding Alumnus, Tulane University.

"Judge Bagneris began his legal career in 1980 as a Public Defender in the New Orleans Indigent Defender Program. He was elected Louisiana State Senator in 1983 and served as President Pro Tempore of the Louisiana Senate from 1992 to 1999, [as such, it was the first time an African American has been voted to that post since Reconstruction] when he was elected Judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals."

"Give all credit to my mother," says a surprisingly humble Judge Dennis Bagneris. Though the judge faithfully and dutifully remains adamant in adhering to what amounts to a precautionary "gag order" enacted by the Judicial Commission of the State of Louisiana that prevents him from discussing the case of childhood friend Gerard Dugué, he had fond memories of the close ties between the Bagneris and Dugué families. "Our mothers recognized all of us as good boys with very promising futures. They were determined to do all within their power to ensure the ultimate realization of our potentials."

Judge Michael Bagneris: U. S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) issued a press release dated April 27, 2009, wherein she recommended Judge Michael Bagneris to the federal bench. "Bagneris won the Orleans Parish Civil District Court judgeship in 1993, where he has served as Chief Judge. He grew up in the Desire Housing Projects in New Orleans and earned a scholarship to Yale University, eventually graduating from Tulane Law School. Early in his career, he worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to reverse discriminatory laws, such as those that barred minorities and women from becoming police officers and firefighters. He then served as Mayor Ernest ‘Dutch' Morial's Executive Council. The National Bar Association selected him to lead the Judicial Council Division of the National Bar Association, and in that position, he has emphasized the importance of continuing legal education programs and often lectures on the topic. He has a seat on the Tulane Board of Trustees and helps mentor new judges.

"‘For his entire career, Judge Bagneris has fought for civil rights for our local community and communities across the nation,' Sen. Landrieu said. ‘His colleagues in the state judiciary consider him one of our finest and most dedicated leaders. He will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the federal judiciary. His fair-mindedness, honesty and dedication to our region make him the top choice to serve the people of the Eastern District in this critical judgeship.'"

For reasons known only to the White House, the President declined to appoint Judge Michael Bagneris. It has been speculated that it would have made for an embarrassing conundrum for the Justice Department to have Justice Michael Bagneris sitting on the federal bench while prosecuting Gerard Dugué, another member of their juvenile Fantastic Four. "It was unclear why the White House rejected Bagneris for the position," states a June 23, 2010, notice. It further reads, "As senior senator, Landrieu's recommendation would normally carry significant weight with the administration."

"Judge Bagneris has served the people of New Orleans and Louisiana with great distinction for 39 years," said Senator Landrieu. She added that she was proud to recommend him. As is the case with Judge Dennis R. Bagneris, judicial protocol understandably dictates that Judge Michael Bagneris refrain from commenting on the indictment of "Gerard the Good," his fellow childhood Justice League crime fighter.  

"Judge" C. Arnold Lain?: C. Arnold Lain is the first and only Black lawyer in Winnsboro, Louisiana. Aside from this notable distinction, C. Arnold Lain is running for judge in the October 2010 election. If he wins, he will be the first Black judge in Winnsboro.  Attorney Lain was married to Gerard's sister, Josie Dugué Lain, who died in a tragic car accident three years ago. When asked his thoughts on the indictment of Gerard's character, C. Arnold replied:

"Gerard has always been a very hard worker. He is a good man. He was always for justice, and was so dedicated as an investigator that it was to a fault; sometimes at the expense of his health and family. He'd work what seemed to be 21- or 22-hour days. In his fight for what was just and right, he was always tired. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being critical. I'm just saying that there is no way a man who was so dedicated to doing the right thing could even possibly cover for bad cops.

"It reminds me of what happened to Colin Powell. The Bush White House purposefully gave him inaccurate information that he literally passed on to the world as he spoke before the United Nations. Powell believed what he was told, and look what happened. He was the one that got blamed. This is exactly what happened to Gerard. He was given wrong information by those cops, passed it on, and is now being blamed by the government. I wished Gerard had retired earlier and had gone fishing like the family encouraged him to do. To the best of my knowledge, the only real ‘vacation' he ever got was when he spent two weeks in Italy during his post reserve training.

"When you think about it, what was supposed to be his golden years of retirement have culminated into time spent fighting bogus charges against him, charges that I don't believe for a moment. And even if he's exonerated, the mental toll and damage have been done. I've known the man for almost 20 years, and he most definitely does not deserve this."

Bowling Leaguer: After reading last week's OSI article "Trial of ‘Katrina's Killer Kops' Nears" (August 26, 2010), family friend Robin LaMotte, an employee of the federal government, sent the following email dated August 27, 2010, to Wayne Dugué--Gerard's younger brother who is quoted in the article: "Thank you Wayne, I am happy to see that finally someone has spoken for Gerard. He is a good man with a gentle soul. I am praying for him and Shelia because they do not deserve to go through this. They both are wonderful people. Please keep me in the loop and let me know if there is anything I can do for my friends."

OSI interviewed Ms. LaMotte who had this to say about Dugué: "Gerard is a good man who wrote what he was told. There's no ‘code of silence' with him when it comes to criminal activity perpetrated by cops. There was absolutely no way to verify what had happened. Those bad cops lied, but Gerard didn't know that. I mean, after two months the crime scene was long gone. He couldn't verify or deny what happened on the Danziger Bridge.

"I was in a Saturday night bowling league with him for over 20 years, and we all got to know him real well. At one time, he was even our league president for many years. He had the most integrity by far. He never did anything underhanded, mean or malicious. Everybody hates to see that he has to go through this. No one would ever say anything bad about him, including other cops. He is a family man raised in a good Catholic household. If I had to count on anybody, it would be him. If his grandkid in Houston needed him for anything, he'd get on the highway right away to go and support her."

Others of Gerard's supporters say that though attempts are being made to batter his reputation as Hurricane Katrina battered the Crescent City; and though critics campaign to besmirch his character as BP oil blackened pristine Gulf waters; that truth will prevail, and the humble, mild-mannered, saintly "Gerard the Good" will rise like the New Orleans Saints and continue to champion the good of everyone whose lives he touches. Stay tuned.  

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA: Click here to see above article in 31 languages

Katrina Article 1: "Trial of 'Katrina's Killer Kops' Nears" (8-26-10)

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