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BR Airport changes lease policy following News 2 Investigation

4 years ago August 02, 2011 Aug 2, 2011 Tuesday, August 02 2011 Tuesday, August 02, 2011 9:56:33 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

BATON ROUGE-  A private plane, discovered by News 2, being stored in a publicly-paid for airport hangar, has forced changes at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport.

The plane, registered to State Senator Rob Marionneaux and Baton Rouge Attorney Chuck Ward, was parked in the hangar leased by Baton Rouge Police for about nine months.

Tuesday, Airport Commissioners asked how the airport staff was involved in allowing the plane to land in the hangar, and stay there rent-free until News 2 uncovered it at the end of June.

Airport Director Anthony Marino told commissioners he received the call from Marionneaux, but directed him to BRPD to ask to use any extra hangar space. He maintains, from then on, any decision on the plane in that hangar belonged to police.

Former Police Chief Jeff LeDuff told News 2 he gave the okay for a few days to allow for plane repairs, but News 2 obtained an interdepartment e-mail showing aviation officers believed they only had half the hangar, meaning the side Marionneaux's plane sat on wasn't theirs. But Marino said differently Tuesday.

"It's the whole hangar," he said, "I wasn't aware. I know at one time somebody mentioned something about a partial on the hangar and I'm like, that's just not practical because we have no way to subdivide the hangar."

Commissioners took issue with a lack of proof because the agreement between the airport and the police department was not on paper, but through word of mouth.

"I don't think we necessarily did anything wrong, and you haven't say you've done anything wrong," said Commissioner Andy McCandless, "But going forward, I think we need to have a lease agreement with everybody."

And that is the policy now, leaving commissioners satisfied with the past and the present.

Commissioner Buddy Amoroso said, "I'm glad to see we had resolved that and that potential conflict."

Police are still working on an internal investigation into the matter, while the Parish Attorney's Office is still working on compiling a bill.

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