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Brusly liquor license denial sparks tension at council meeting

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BRUSLY - A former police chief, who pleaded guilty to criminal charges connected to things he did while in office, was denied a liquor license for a convenience store he and his girlfriend purchased together.

Jamie Whaley and Tricia Michel sat before the Brusly Council Monday night as officials voted unanimously to deny a liquor license for Back Brusly Grocery.  The same license was denied by the Alcohol and Tobacco Control. Louisiana law states convicted felons cannot obtain a liquor license.

Monday morning, paperwork submitted to the Secretary of State's Office showed Michel and Whaley as registered agents. As of about 1:15 Monday afternoon, Michel is the sole agent listed.

"I have removed myself from ownership and agent of Back Brusly Grocery," said Whaley.

The state listed five reasons for denying the license. One, because agents believed Michel would not be handling the business herself.

Though, Michel defended herself, admitting during the council meeting she is a new business owner and is still learning.

"I was asked repeatedly if I bought this business and the answer was no and the answer is still no," she said. "This is a personal attack against my family and Jamie is a part of my family."

ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert told WBRZ News 2 he stands by the decision.

"I mean, obviously, he is attempting to try and get a permit another way," said Hebert. "The law clearly states if you're a convicted felon in Louisiana you cannot own, operate or sell or serve alcohol."

Whaley resigned from office in 2014.

The council chambers were full of people Monday, many in support of the business. Some had strong views aimed at the mayor and council for not sharing the same feelings.

"I mean it's ridiculous," said one man. "You all are dragging us through the mud."

Others asked the council to offer Whaley another shot.

"I think that everybody deserves another chance," said one woman.

Brusly attorney Tom Acosta says the council has to withhold the permit if the state does the same.

Whaley said he and Michel plan to appeal the decisions.




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