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Louisiana community’s police chief accused of malfeasance

July 12, 2018

LIVINGSTON, La. (AP) — A Louisiana community’s police chief was arrested Wednesday after being accused of using a village credit card to buy $60 worth of gas for his personal pickup.

French Settlement Police Chief Harry Brignac is facing felony counts of malfeasance in office and injuring public records, The Advocate reported.

More charges are possible as investigators comb through fuel records, Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said.

Ard said the 71-year-old has been cooperative with the investigation and surrendered to authorities. He has been released in lieu of a $50,500 bond. It was unknown if he’s represented by an attorney.

The newspaper says he referred questions to his wife, Tammy, who said her husband has no plans to resign and will fight the allegations, which she says are based on a “simple mistake.”

An investigation revealed Brignac used the fleet fuel card May 15 to buy 24 gallons of gas for his own car at a convenience store in the village. Ard said the purchase was not authorized by the village and captured on surveillance video, which showed Brignac making the purchase while wearing his police uniform.

Tammy Brignac blames a mix-up. She said he accidentally pulled the wrong card to make the purchase, since their personal card is similar to the village’s. She said the criminal case is part of an effort by the mayor to oust her husband from office.

Mayor Toni Guitrau said in a statement that she brought the questionable fuel charges to the attention of law enforcement after a routine check showed “discrepancies.”

French Settlement has about 1,200 people in southern Livingston Parish. The police department has two officers and a chief of police.

Brignac has been the village’s police chief for more than 30 years, according to his wife. He retired under pressure from the Louisiana Board of Ethics in 2016, because he owed fines for failing to file his financial disclosures. After paying those fines, Brignac qualified to run for police chief again and was elected in 2017 by a margin of 14 votes.

Since his re-election, Brignac has been at odds with the village’s board of alderman. The board has requested attorney general’s opinions on two separate occasions on issues related to Brignac’s power as an elected chief.

Brignac is the second police chief this year in southern Livingston Parish to face criminal charges. Former Killian Police Chief Dennis Hill was indicted on malfeasance in office charges in March, after a legislative audit accused him of billing overtime while he was traveling in Florida and Alabama. The audit also said he may have misused the town’s fuel card when he purchased gasoline while out of state. Hill, an appointed chief, was fired by the town’s board of alderman. He has pleaded not guilty


Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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