A veteran New Orleans Police Department supervisor facing a felony charge of insurance fraud had never before received disability benefits. Lt. Gervais Allison also got mixed messages from the insurance company when he asked how long the benefits would last, he told Louisiana State Police, according to court records.
State Police argue, however, that Allison cashed four disability checks, from December 2016 to March 2017, totaling about $6,340, after returning to work at NOPD in November 2016. He did so despite being instructed via the policy terms and letters mailed to his home that he should notify Standard Insurance Company of his return to work, according to an affidavit for arrest sworn by Trooper Jeffrey Theriot. Allison’s failure to take the opportunity to pay back the insurance company the amount overpaid to him after Louisiana State Police approached him about the problem in October also led to his arrest, Theriot wrote.
“This is simply a case of miscommunication,” Donovan Livicarri, a Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police attorney who was representing Allison, said Friday. “Lt. Allison certainly did not intend to defraud or deceive anybody.”
Allison was booked Thursday by the Louisiana State Police Thursday (Feb. 7) but was released from custody on his own recognizance. The Louisiana Department of Insurance referred the case to the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigation, State Police spokeswoman Trooper Melissa Matey said. Allison’s failure over several months to pay restitution for the overpayments or request a review of his case, “showed additional intent to commit fraud,” the affidavit states.
A supervisor in NOPD’s 3rd District, which polices the Gentilly and Lakeview areas, Allison also serves as pastor at Rosedale Missionary Baptist Church, in New Orleans East’s Venetian Isles neighborhood. He was interviewed by CNN for a March 2017 story profiling the intersection of faith and violence in New Orleans. Reached by phone Thursday, Allison declined to comment on the charge.
During an October 2018 interview with State Police, with Livicarri present, Allison told detectives he asked the insurance company how long the benefits would last. “’Don’t worry about it, we’ll deal with it,’” the insurance company told Allison, according to his statement to investigators.
Allison also told investigators his claim was not approved until months after he filed it, and he was told it would take a while to “kick in.” The claim was filed after an injury to a rotator cuff required surgery, the affidavit says. It does not say how Allison was injured.
Allison explained to investigators that he was on limited duty from November 2017 to March 2017, when the alleged overpayments were made, but State Police learned limited duty doesn’t impact pay and only refers to the type of assignment an officer has.
Livicarri said he was in touch with the insurance company as recently as January and was “disappointed” he didn’t have the opportunity to resolve the issue before State Police arrested Allison.
Theriot wrote that Allison did not return calls or respond to messages or letters from the insurance company between December 2016 and March 2017, at which time company stopped sending benefit payments after confirming with NOPD Allison was back at work full time.
In a statement, the NOPD said the department placed an arrested employee on emergency suspension, “in accordance with routine procedure,” after Louisiana State Police contacted the department Thursday morning “regarding a warrant.” The statement, which did not name Allison, said the NOPD was “fully cooperating” with State Police and arranged on Thursday for the employee’s surrender.
Allison was booked Thursday into the Orleans Justice Center jail, and Orleans Judicial District Judge Karen Herman “preset” his bond, court records show. Herman ordered Allison to be released on his own recognizance, but set a $10,000 bond penalty if he fails to appear at his next court hearing. Court records show Allison was not present in Orleans Parish Magistrate Court for his first appearance Thursday afternoon when Magistrate Commissioner Jonathan Friedman found probable cause for the charges to move forward.