Posted: Jul 7, 2011 10:17 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: Jul 7, 2011 10:17 PM
BATON ROUGE- Someone could get a bill for parking a private plane in a police hangar at Baton Rouge Metro Airport.
The East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney says the owners might have to pay for a temporary stay that turned into a free ride. Until then, you've footed the bill.
The plane was stored in a hangar at the airport leased by the Police Department. Last week, officers moved out of the hangar so Baton Rouge Community College could move in. But they had to track down the owner first. It's owned by a company that belongs to State Senator Rob Marionneaux and Baton Rouge attorney Sam "Chuck" Ward.
They claimed it had engine trouble and needed time to keep the plane there for repairs. But a News 2 investigation found it turned into months and multiple ins and outs.
Now, a week after News 2 started looking into why the plane was in the hangar, the Baton Rouge Police Department says it will not be billing the owners for the nine months they used the hangar rent-free.
Police Chief Dewayne White says his department didn't do its due diligence in keeping track of the plane and has no place to ask for repayment. But Parish Attorney Mary Roper says the city-parish does.
She said, "If we determine that a public facility, obviously the police department was renting this hangar, if that was used by a private entity or private person, than compensation would be owed."
And while the bill could be up to $15,000, by estimates obtained by News 2, Roper needs police to complete their investigation first.
"Right now I don't have all of the details and all of the facts that I might need to do that," she said.
For the third time, News 2 tried to get more information from Marionneaux and Ward. The senator was at his office when we stopped by, but a secretary told us Marionneaux was too busy to talk with us and took a message.
Ward's office was closed when we checked there and neither have returned messages left for them, in-person, at their offices.
Some airport commissioners are also wanting answers on this issue.
News 2 has learned the board will be asking airport administration for "transparency" in the form of a report on who knew what and when there, in reference to the plane in the hangar. That's expected to hit the table at the board's meeting next month.
The state's Board of Ethics may have an eye on the situation as well.
A board spokeswoman says while there was no comment on this specific case, the board does consider media reports as strong as official complaints. If the board were to consider something worth investigating, it would only become public when it's put on the board's meeting agenda. Then two-thirds of the board would have to agree to move it forward.