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Nakamoto investigation questions CATS' tardiness in paying healthcare premiums for employees

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BATON ROUGE - CATS employees' health insurance may have lapsed for two days after the bus company was late paying its bills, an email obtained by WBRZ shows.

The latest issue comes amid a series of WBRZ Investigative Unit and Chris Nakamoto reports on the bus system, which have included failed drug tests by top CATS bosses, allegations of missing money and personnel issues. 

Stream WBRZ newscasts here. 

A spreadsheet obtained by WBRZ shows of the health insurance invoices paid by CATS from May 2020 to April 2022, 26 of 54 invoices were not paid by the due date. Some were late by a couple of days, others were late by a couple of months.

In one instance, employees' health insurance appeared to have lapsed for two days until it was reinstated when the insurer received payment. 

CATS offered no specific comment, only that, as of Tuesday, all of its healthcare bills were paid. 

The snafu is the latest troubling issue revealed in Nakamoto's reporting.  

Last month, the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed the agency's comptroller tested positive for drugs. John Cutrone failed a random drug screen when he tested positive for methamphetamine in January. CATS did a follow-up test nearly two weeks later with a split sample to confirm the first test. The results were the same.

The amount considered a positive is 500. Cutrone's level of methamphetamine was 3,233.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit checked with numerous human resource professionals and those familiar with how drug testing works. All of them say there's nothing you can take over the counter or get via prescription that will cause you to test positive for methamphetamines.

That is also backed up by an internal CATS document sources provided to the WBRZ Investigative Unit.

"Methamphetamine does not have any medications or prescriptions to support an individual medical condition for taking this illegal drug or gives a reason for these drugs appearing in your body," the department noted.

CEO Bill Deville gave a shaky explanation last month about why he selectively enforces the agency's zero-tolerance drug policy. Cutrone remains employed.

Amid all the turmoil, an anonymous board member released the following statement to WBRZ, "The agency is headed in the wrong direction and it's up to the board members to stop this fiasco and debacle that's been going on for the past few years. It's steadily getting worse."

A meeting is being held Tuesday night to evaluate CEO Bill Deville's performance.  Watch WBRZ News 2 at nine and 10:00 Tuesday for new information on the meeting. 

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