By Elyse Carmosino & Andrea Gallo | The Advocate | August 27, 2021
The chief regulator of Louisiana’s private security industry, who already faces allegations of financial and sexual misconduct, is now in the crosshairs of the state’s public corruption watchdog.
State Inspector General Stephen Street confirmed that his office is investigating Fabian Blache III, who helms the State Board of Private Security Examiners.
The probe comes on the heels of an internal inquiry that accused Blache of nepotism and misspending money, and a couple months after an employee lodged a sexual harassment claim against him with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
SBPSE’s attorney outlined several examples of Blache’s alleged wrongdoing in a 95-page report obtained by The Advocate.
In 2019, the report says Blache failed to reimburse the International Association of Security and Investigative Regulators — an industry group for which he serves as president — for the cost of a trip to speak at a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. While IASIR covered Blache’s airfare, his wife also joined him, bringing the tab for the sojourn to $5,127.86.
“The board paid to cover the airfare with the understanding that IASIR or local authorities in South Africa who had invited Mr. Blache would reimburse those funds,” the report reads. “However, those paying the reimbursement were not willing to cover the additional airfare for Mr. Blache’s wife.”
On Aug. 8, 2019, Blache wrote a personal check to the regulatory board for $2,563.50 to cover his wife’s share of the trip. Per the report, however, the check was never deposited in the board’s account and was later found in Blache’s personnel file.
The report cites another questionable incident in March 2020, when Blache sent an email telling employees that because of the coronavirus pandemic, he would let them to cash out up to 80 hours of annual or compensatory leave. Blache later asked the board’s finance manager, Sharon Vallery, to write him a check for $4,616 for 80 hours of annual leave.
“All of the available documents clearly indicate the check was for annual leave and not compensatory time, which Mr. Blache did not have and cannot earn,” the report states.
Then there was the $2,500 check Blache cut to his brother-in-law’s fianceè Victoria Gott for contract investigative work, the report continues. He also gave her a gun.
But the report says he never required her to undergo the required background check and that no discernible work was done until six months later in September 2020.
When reached by The Advocate Wednesday, Blache declined to comment on the report’s findings.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he got a copy of the board’s report several weeks ago. But he said the OIG will take the investigation from here.
“Whatever he finds, he’ll turn over to us,” Moore said. “If there’s any action to be taken, we’ll take (over) then.”
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the New Orleans-based nonprofit watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the allegations may end up extending beyond what the SBPSE found.
“If there are findings, it’s not only going to reflect on Fabian Blache III, it’s also going to reflect on the board,” he said.
Blache is the son of another well-known state figure, Fabian Blache, Jr., head of the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police.
The younger Blache has survived scandal before.
In 2018, the SBPSE placed him on paid leave after staffers lodged several complaints against him and his executive assistant, Bridgette Hull. Among the allegations: that they used inappropriate language, made sexually suggestive gestures and made numerous lapses like failing to fill out time sheets or take vacation days when they skipped work.
Board members said at the time that they could only substantiate a few of 13 allegations against the pair and voted 5-4 to allow Blache to return as executive director. Blache insisted at the time that the attempted ouster stemmed from him cracking down on rule-breaking security companies.
But similar complaints cropped up in the years to follow, including from the employee who filed the EEOC complaint last month as well as one with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights. Because The Advocate | Times-Picayune does not name people who say they are victims of sexual harassment, unless they grant permission, her identity is being withheld.
In a July 1 letter detailing the allegations, her attorney Jill Craft describes how the woman was working as an exotic dancer when she met Blache, a regular at her night club. After hiring her to work for the state security board, the complaint says Blache would often comment about how she was unqualified for the position and would be out of a job if it weren’t for him.
Craft’s letter accuses Blache of grooming and manipulating the woman into an unwanted sexual relationship. Craft says Blache insisted on sharing a bed with the woman during a 2017 business trip to California, exposed his genitals to her and began propositioning her for sex and sexual favors.
“She was in a no-win situation,” Craft’s letter states.
The employee kept text messages from Blache, the letter says, in which he threatens to fire her if she refused his advances.
“In one such text on March 9, 2020, (the woman) asked if she needed to be worried about her job because she had been distancing herself from him sexually,” Craft wrote. “Mr. Blache responded with a threat to her employment, including that she was his ‘first mate,’ and that if she was not available to him, he would terminate her employment.”
The allegations that surfaced in the past month or so set the stage for a probe that Moore expects will last for several months. It’s going to be time-consuming to go through everything, he said.
“But,” the district attorney added, “I think they’re going to give it their all and have a good investigation.”