INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Plaquemine police chief booked for malfeasance after grand jury indictment
PLAQUEMINE - Plaquemine Police Chief Kenny Payne turned himself in Tuesday morning after a grand jury formally charged him with five felony counts of malfeasance in office, the WBRZ Investigative Unit reported.
Jail records showed he was booked Tuesday morning and posted a $25,000 bond in cash.
WBRZ was outside the jail when Payne bonded out of jail. He had little to say about his arrest as he got into a car and left the jail.
"How do you think I'm doing," Payne said to WBRZ cameras when asked how he was doing.
Most of Payne's charges relate to him asking for sexual favors in exchange to have charges dropped. Count three of the indictment shows Payne ordered a Lieutenant to delete text messages received from the victim.
The indictment also says Payne also asked Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi "to not conduct or to cease conducting an investigation of him."
Payne is also accused of using the City of Plaquemine's storage building for his personal use.
In a rare move, Payne testified before the grand jury Monday to give his side of the story. He did not want to say anything as he got on an elevator to exit the building.
"That was kind of unusual," District Attorney Tony Clayton said. "I have not seen that, that much in my 30 years, but he showed up and he was given his opportunity."
Payne has been the focus of numerous WBRZ Investigative Unit reports that showed he allegedly asked a woman for sexual favors in exchange for having her boyfriend's charges dropped. WBRZ interviewed the woman, who says she was asked to give him a "BJ" in exchange to have her boyfriend's charges dropped. Sources said Payne erased his cell phone amid the investigation.
"He made me show him my phone when I first got in there to make sure my phone was off and nothing could be recorded, because he said this could jeopardize not just his job but his whole life," she recalled.
That's when she said Payne took out a notepad and asked her the unthinkable.
"He said, I know you are willing to do anything to get him out," she said. "He took a sticky note off the lady's desk. It was a big pack, and he wrote 'will you give me a B.J. to get him out of trouble?' He took it and did this and showed it to me."
Last month, Payne's lawyer Chuck Ward, said his client would be resigning this month to avoid criminal charges. Payne later returned our calls saying his lawyer got that all wrong.
"That is not the case, no sir," Payne said. "That was never in my mind to resign. Am I going to retire at some time, yes sir. Is that time decided? No."
Last week, WBRZ spoke to Payne. He was defiant on the phone when asked why he hadn't been in the office recently.
"I am the chief, and I do chief things on a daily basis," Payne said. "No one says I have to sit in that office. I am elected and set my own schedule. When the end of my term comes and the people don't think I've done the job, they have a way to get me out of office, and that's by voting me out."
Payne said he'll let the process play out. He called the allegations against him false.
"I've been told by lawyers along the way you can indict a ham sandwich if you'd like," Payne said. "The grand jury is a process where the district attorney, and I'm not specifically speaking of our district attorney, and I'm generalizing here... don't edit it out. The district attorney tells a story, and that story may not have any evidence whatsoever, and he tells a story."
Clayton said he's confident a jury of Payne's peers will convict him.
"We've indicted him and next step is to give him a copy of what we have and give him some motions and a trial date," Clayton said. "If it's a trial that he wants, he'll have that."
Payne is due back in court in January.
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