A Lafayette Parish Grand Jury has indicted City Marshal Brian Pope on seven additional counts of malfeasance in office.
Pope, who already is facing felony perjury and malfeasance charges, is named in the indictment which was handed down today.
Each count accuses him of taking “without legal authority, funds” in various amounts.
- Count 1 is for $1,289.56
- Count 2 is for $1,552.47
- Count 3 is for $1,514.17
- Count 4 is for $1,768.19
- Count 5 is for $1,394.16
- Count 6 is for $1,945.62
- Count 7 is for $3,876.23
KATC Investigates made a public-records request for garnishment-fee payments made to the marshal after the Attorney General’s office told him that he couldn’t use the money to supplement his salary. Those pay stubs, which we received from January through June, match the amounts in the indictment.
As an officer of Lafayette City Court, the Marshal’s Office garnishes some people’s paychecks and charges a 6 percent administrative fee. Both Pope and his predecessor, Nicky Picard, had supplemented their salaries with some of that money.
Auditors had told Pope since 2016 that he should seek an Attorney General’s opinion on whether he could do that legally. He did not request an opinion until last year, and it further was delayed when he discontinued communication with the AG’s office when the opinion was ready last fall, according to correspondence from the AG’s office to the marshal.
15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes in turn requested and received the opinion in January. It pointed to state law that exempts Lafayette’s marshal from using those funds for salary payments and said the money only could be used for office expenses.
In July, during an email exchange about KATC’s public-records request for the marshal’s pay stubs, an attorney for the Marshal’s Office told KATC that the garnishment fees were being used to pay off his penalties in The Independent’s public-records lawsuit against him.
“I have been told that the Marshal is in fact not currently receiving any of these fees, as they remain subject to the Garnishment Consent Judgment reached back in August of 2017,” attorney Lauren Rivera, with the Baton Rouge firm Taylor Porter, told KATC at the time.
Pope faces two counts of perjury and five counts of malfeasance in office, and is set for trial later this month.
In that case, the state’s bill of particulars filed in the case gives more detail on the specific charges lodged against the marshal.
- Perjury: Pope is accused of lying under oath during a Dec. 28, 2015, deposition in the records lawsuit. Prosecutors allege Pope lied when he denied authorizing the mass distribution of a press conference announcement for an event that turned out to be a political event on public time.
- Perjury: In the same deposition, Pope is accused of lying in denying that he had been working with Hilary “Joe” Castille, then campaign manager in Scott Police Chad Chief Leger’s bid for sheriff. Pope and Leger at the time had both professed their friendship and political alliance. The press conference in question accused Sheriff Mark Garber, then Leger’s opponent, of encouraging illegal immigration.
- Malfeasance: Pope is accused of using his public employees to draft a fundraising letter for his personal campaign.
- Malfeasance: This count accuses Pope of breaking the law when he hosted the Oct. 7, 2015, press conference central to his case by using public funds and time for political purposes. The event was held at his office during business hours and while he was flanked by uniformed deputy marshals.
- Malfeasance: Pope is accused of using public funds for political purposes by allegedly paying a private citizen to sue to unseal Garber’s divorce records.
- Malfeasance: Pope is accused of paying an attorney to represent his employees “during questioning in a criminal matter in which they were not targets of an investigation,” an alleged illegal use of public funds.
- Malfeasance: After Pope was convicted of contempt-of-court in the public records lawsuit for failing to produce the records, the marshal used public funds to pay an attorney to appeal the conviction.