SORRENTO — The mayor and a councilman of Sorrento engaged in a verbal altercation that led to sheriff’s deputies being called to Town Hall earlier this week.
According to an incident report obtained from the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, Mayor Wilson Longanecker said he felt threatened by Councilman Jason Adams prior to Tuesday night’s special Town Council meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to allow the mayor and council to discuss a potential lawsuit threatened against the town’s Police Department.
Police Lt. Rosevelt Hampton and Sgt. Eric Waggenspack responded to the request, which came from Police Chief Earl Theriot, according to the report written by Hampton.
No arrests were made following the dispute, the report shows.
Longanecker said he was in his office prior to Tuesday’s council meeting when Adams and Councilman Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair came to speak to him about unpaid attorneys’ fees.
Town Attorney Donovan Hudson said he told council members that he hadn’t been paid for work he performed in
October, and the council members went to talk to Longanecker about getting the invoice paid.
Longanecker said he explained to the two councilmen that he had some questions about the bill for Hudson’s supervisor, Karl Scott, and he was awaiting a response from Scott. Longanecker’s explanation, however, wasn’t sufficient for Adams, Longanecker said.
“I don’t think they really want to hear anything I have to say,” the mayor said.
Longanecker said that during the discussion, Adams became irate, slamming his fist on the mayor’s desk and pointing at him in a threatening manner, and the mayor was fearful that the situation would escalate even further.
“It kind of blindsided me,” Longanecker said, “especially to be in my office while I’m sitting at my desk.”
Adams, who briefly served as interim mayor last year, said he didn’t want to address the altercation in too much detail because Longanecker filed a formal complaint. However, he said he wanted to talk to the mayor to “take up for the attorneys because they haven’t been paid.”
“He doesn’t want to work with (the council),” Adams said of the mayor. “He doesn’t want to work with the attorneys. He’s combative. He’s constantly combative. He’s not sharing information.”
Longanecker accused Adams of cursing at him and treating him in a “hostile manner,” something that should not be tolerated.
“You don’t have to like me, but you need to respect the position I hold,” Longanecker said.
Adams admitted that the conversation “got heated,” but he said at no point did he attempt to attack the mayor, and he was “only emphasizing a point.”
Hudson, who has been at odds with Longanecker at times over the mayor’s handling of ongoing allegations and concerns involving the town’s Police Department, said that since Longanecker returned from medical leave in August, the town government has not been running very smoothly.
“So many things could be handled in a way that would not exacerbate anything,” Hudson said.