Mayor absent from meeting deciding fate of controversial Tahoe purchases
UPDATE: Arrest warrants have been issued for Clinton Police Chief Frederick Dunn and Mayor of Clinton Lori Ann Bell.
The two are facing charges of obtaining leased vehicles by false representation, as well as malfeasance in office.
CLINTON - The Mayor of Clinton was a no-show at a special meeting Thursday night that reversed a decision she was involved in. The town council decided to stop paying thousands of dollars for SUV’s.
This comes one day after the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office filed a subpoena asking for records of the questionable purchase of four Chevy Tahoes.
Only three aldermen showed up to the meeting.
“I hoped [the Mayor] would have come, but she didn't,” said alderman Jonny Beauchamp.
Beauchamp, along with two others voted to stop payments for the four Tahoes, and request them to be parked at the jail with everything out of them by September 21.
“I was surprised that after two years, you want to send important vehicles back that we used to actually save people from the flood in,” said Chief of Police Fred Dunn.
Dunn didn't attend the meeting, but told WBRZ beforehand that the Tahoes were needed to replace older vehicles.
According to subpoena documents, Mayor Lori Ann Bell and Chief Dunn signed off on a 60-month lease, paying a sum of $200,000 for the vehicles. This was in 2016.
During the special meeting, Alderman Mark Kemp said the lease purchase was never presented to the board and it wasn't budgeted for. Chief Dunn says they were trying to get a grant to fund the vehicles, but the budget wasn't complete to submit the grant in time.
“It costs too much money,” said Beauchamp. “We don't have any money right not, we're in bad shape.”
Beauchamp says a lack of money is why they voted to return the Tahoes.
The East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office is also looking into the Mayor’s Court. Documents allege “officer fines” may be collected excessively. Chief Dunn denies these allegations.
“We are using the same fines and the same fees that the previous administration used. We haven't changed any fines or fees.” said Chief Dunn.
WBRZ contacted Mayor Bell for comment, but she has not returned phone calls.
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