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Aug 18, 2010 1:06 PM by Melissa Canone

Former LA ATC Commissioner Murphy Painter Being Investigated

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State investigators have searched the
office and vehicle of recently resigned Alcohol and Tobacco Control
Commissioner Murphy Painter.
The investigators' application for a warrant indicated they were
seeking evidence that Painter had stalked and harassed a former
employee.
A computer and two thumb drives portable devices that hold data
were among the items seized from Painter's office, according to a
search warrant return filed Tuesday in state district court. A
laptop and thumb drive were seized from Painter's state-provided
2010 Dodge Charger.
Painter, who served in the position for 14 years, resigned
Friday, four days after former assistant Kelli Suire complained to
the Louisiana Office of State Inspector General.
IG investigator Shane Evans said in a search warrant application
Monday that Suire had filed a formal complaint with the Louisiana
Department of Revenue that had caused Painter to be reprimanded.
Evans also told state District Judge Bonnie Jackson that
preliminary review of a state computer system revealed that Painter
had searched for personal information on Suire as recently as Aug.
9 and that he also probed for information on Suire's attorney, Jill
L. Craft.
"I was pretty much shocked," Craft said Tuesday. "He had run
a criminal history on me and printed out a Google map to my
house," from his office, Craft said of Painter.
Suire worked at the ATC headquarters from March 2007 until
November 2009, Evans said in an affidavit for the search warrant.
Evans said: "Suire advised that she felt alarmed and threatened
by Painter's actions, as he intentionally made his uninvited
presence known at her home.
"He has called her as early as 5:00 a.m. to ask her what she
was doing up that early because he had driven by and seen the light
on at her house," Evans told the judge. "She took this as him
clearly indicating that he had been at her residence. Her residence
is not on his route to work."
Evans also told Jackson: "While Ms. Suire was still employed at
the La. ATC, he directly asked her to come sleep at his house. He
has made numerous requests to her to become involved in a romantic
relationship. When she has ignored or refused him, he would become
enraged."
Craft said Suire "refused to have any relationship outside that
of employer and employee."
"This whole situation has been very frightening to her," the
attorney added.
Craft said Suire remains concerned for her safety.
"I think (Painter's) resignation absolutely speaks volumes,"
Craft added. "Any time officials in this state abuse their
authority, that's a huge problem for all of us, the taxpayers.

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