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Scandal-plagued ex-Louisiana official dead at 64

June 12, 2018

CHALMETTE, La. (AP) — David Peralta, who served one term as the president of Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish, has died at age 64.

A parish government news release says Peralta was found dead in his home in Meraux (MIH’-row) on Tuesday. New Orleans-area news outlets report that the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s office said the death appeared to be from natural causes.

Peralta spent 40 years in public sector work, including police work in New Orleans and St. Bernard. He won the parish presidency in 2011. But his term was marred by scandal. His then-wife accused him of sexual abuse. Charges of sexual battery and stalking were eventually dropped but legal woes continued.

He lost a re-election bid in 2015. In 2016 he pleaded no contest to felony counts of malfeasance in office.

That plea was part of a deal with state prosecutors. Among the accusations he had faced: The state Attorney General’s Office accused Peralta of accepting a loan from a businessman whose company had a contract with St. Bernard Parish.

Peralta also had been charged with asking a parish employee to use a parish computer to track down an address for his ex-wife. The 22-count indictment further accused Peralta of obtaining a list of parish employees’ addresses and using that information to solicit campaign donations.

Peralta blamed his legal issues on a vendetta by a power-hungry state Attorney General’s Office, accusing then-Attorney General Buddy Caldwell of seeking to sully his reputation to aid political allies.

Peralta won only 3 percent of the vote in his re-election bid but he still had admirers.

“It is going to be a great loss. He was a great help to me,” Anna Silcio, his neighbor for nearly 30 years, told reporters. “And a good person, no matter what anyone thinks about him. They don’t know the real Dave.”

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