Zurik Is Back, And New Orleans Crooks Won’t Like It

The best investigative journalist in New Orleans is Lee Zurik, who made a name for himself exposing Ray Nagin and other degenerate public officials while at WWL-TV…

Zurik is back on the air this week, now as the anchor and the chief investigative reporter at Fox 8 in New Orleans, and if his opening salvo at the assorted hogs at the city’s public trough is any indication, the new gig will be anything but boring.

Turns out there’s a judge. Her name is Sonja Spears. She’s supposed to work the civil court circuit in New Orleans, and apparently she manages to keep up with her docket despite the fact that she actually lives in Boston. Spears and her husband Ike – who despite living in Boston has a $30,000 a year job as a staff attorney for the recorder of mortgages in New Orleans – owe some $200,000 in taxes in Louisiana. Three years ago they bought a $1.4 million house up there and paid over a half-million dollars as a down payment, they’ve got two kids in a $35,000 a year private school in Boston and they owe a pile of taxes to the IRS.

Spears has a spokesperson who is flogging the story that she’s in Massachusetts “getting medical attention” and that’s why she’s there all the time – in a $1.4 million house. These people aren’t stupid, but they think we are.

Zurik’s report raises major questions. First, if you can airdrop into New Orleans a few days a month and keep up with a docket anyway, why does the city need so many judges? Second, is Spears in violation of the domicile requirements for judgeships in the city? And third, how do humble public servants in a city which is broke manage to keep houses in two different cities, one of which is worth over a million dollars and pay $70,000 in private school tuition?

The guess is that there aren’t any answers to these questions which would satisfy the average observer. Spears has been twice elected to her judgeship, so this has been going on for some time until Zurik shined a light on it. It appears U.S. Attorney Jim Letten is interested as well, as his office has supoenaed work and payroll records from the First City Court on the judge.

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