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Marionneaux speaks about plane investigation, says Holden gave the okay

4 years ago September 12, 2011 Sep 12, 2011 Monday, September 12 2011 Monday, September 12, 2011 9:41:25 PM CDT in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Ashley Rodrigue

BATON ROUGE-  A state senator is opening up about a News 2 investigation into his plane being parked in a publicly-paid for hangar for free. 

Rob Marionneaux now says East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden told him he could use the hangar at Metro Airport.  But the mayor says that's not the case.

Marionneaux left his private plane in the hangar leased by Baton Rouge Police.  He says it was there for repairs, but it came and went from the airport for months, between last October and the end of June.  He was never charged the cost to hang the plane and police did an internal investigation to look into the matter.

Marionneaux repeatedly told Internal Affairs investigators, and the new chief of police, that it was only former Chief Jeff Leduff that gave the okay.  But now, in Marionneaux's first interview with News 2 about this topic, despite numerous previous attempts, his story is changing.

When asked if his plane was in the BRPD hangar, Marionneaux said, "Yes, with permission of the mayor as well as the Chief of Police."

But when News 2 started investigating why Marionneaux's plane had been in the hangar for months, Mayor Holden's Office said no one had knowledge of the situation.  Holden stood by that Monday.

"I did not even know the plane was there," he said.

Former Chief Jeff Leduff admits giving the okay, but only  a few days for mechanical work.  Airport Director Anthony Marino acknowledges sending Marionneaux to BRPD for permission at the time.  But Leduff and an internal investigation by new Chief Dewayne White revealed the plane stayed longer because of oversight and never mentioned the mayor being involved.

We've tried for months to get the story straight from Marionneaux and finally caught up with him Monday when he offered a few answers.

He said he didn't pay for using that hangar because, "Baton Rouge City Police had full use of the airplane when it was there at all times, it was offered to them."

And the most unexpected answer, that the mayor gave permission, left Holden baffled.

"Unfortunately, my buddy has a little selective amnesia, but I can tell you point blank, not one conversation occurred between me and Mr. Marionneaux about the plane," said Holden.

Parish Attorney Mary Roper says her office is still working on creating a bill for the time spent in the hangar.  And that bill could be about $15,000 for nine months of storage time.

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