Former East Feliciana coroner, deputy coroner arrested for allegedly falsifying records

EAST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - The former coroner of East Feliciana Parish, along with the deputy coroner, has been arrested for allegedly failing to keep proper written records, among other charges.

Laura DeJohn is charged with malfeasance in office, injuring public records, and criminal conspiracy. Melanie Vines, the former deputy coroner, is charged with injuring public records and criminal conspiracy.

According to the probably cause report from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, based on their own admissions and evidence obtained during the investigation, both DeJohn and Vines knowingly misused their authority and positions of public trust. Officials say DeJohn and Vines participated in a criminal scheme intended to defraud the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office.

The report states the scheme, which was started in response to the EBR Coroner's Office denying payments for questionable services, involved falsifying Coroner Emergency Certificates (CEC). The report also states Vines admitted to completing fraudulent CECs for patients who lived in East Baton Rouge Parish. Officials also say DeJohn subsequently submitted fraudulent billing invoices accompanied by the CECs, to the EBR Coroner's Office for payment.

The investigation, which began on May 5, 2016 after the current East Feliciana Parish Coroner, Dr. Michael Cramer, reported suspected illegal activity in the office, saying he had concerns about the agency under the previous administration, claiming DeJohn had failed to provide him with critical records needed to perform his duties in office.

During the investigation, it was discovered DeJohn knowingly disregarded the state's records retention laws. The report states DeJohn did not retain or store records.

Both DeJohn and Vines were booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Tuesday, March 14.

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