French Settlement police chief's wife claims his arrest was politically-motivated
FRENCH SETTLEMENT - The wife of a small-town police chief in Livingston Parish claims her husband's arrest was a politically-motivated maneuver by the mayor.
French Settlement Mayor Toni Guitreau tells WBRZ that Harry Brignac, the town's chief of police, was arrested Wednesday morning. According to the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office, Brignac used his government-issued gas card to buy $60 worth of gas for his personal pick-up truck back in May.
The mayor said the discrepancy was discovered during a routine check of the department's monthly fuel use. An investigation led to the discovery of store surveillance video which showed the 71-year-old chief filling up his truck at the gas station along LA 16.
Records show that Brignac was booked into the Livingston Parish Jail Wednesday on charges of malfeasance in office, theft and injuring public records. He bonded out later that morning.
Later that same day, Tammy Brignac, the chief's wife, told WBRZ the whole thing was an "innocent mistake".
"We have a similar card that we use for our personal gas, and he obviously just grabbed the wrong card," she said. "Harry's been here for 37 years and he's always done everything right, by the book."
Brignac says this morning's incident is the latest development in a political squabble between her husband and Mayor Guitreau. She says it stems from the mayor's desire to have another person appointed as chief.
"This is just another form of harassment from the mayor," she continued. "It's personal. All of it's been personal for a long time."
When asked about Brignac's assertion that the arrest was politically-motivated, the mayor's office directed WBRZ to the following statement:
"A routine check of monthly fuel use by the police department noted some discrepancies. As Mayor of French Settlement, I’d like to say that this matter was turned over and is under investigation by the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, so any questions should go to them. The French Settlement Chief of Police is elected and therefore not an employee of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. I have confidence in Sheriff Ard and our District Attorney Scott Perrilloux, as they do their job investigating this matter, be it a civilian or an elected official. This will be a difficult time ahead as this unfortunately effects the community, too."
The Brignacs say they plan to hire a lawyer Thursday to fight the charges. Brignac is still serving as chief as the investigation is being conducted.