Sorrento council investigates Police Department again

The Town Council once again has opened an investigation into the Sorrento Police Department.

After meeting in executive session for nearly an hour Wednesday, the council announced it opened an investigation into Officer Ricky Smith.

“A formal ongoing investigation has been initiated,” said Donovan Hudson, the council’s attorney. “Pending the outcome of that investigation, the council reserves the right to take further action.”

Hudson referred all comments regarding Smith to Police Chief Earl Theriot, who said he was not allowed to comment.

“I can’t say anything because it’s under investigation,” Theriot said after a closed-door meeting with Smith and Smith’s attorney, Jacqueline F. Maloney, of Metairie.

Maloney said neither she nor her client would comment about the investigation. No details related to the allegations against Smith were made public.

It’s not the first time in recent months the council has investigated a police officer. The council fired former Assistant Police Chief Billy Ballard in August following an internal investigation, two weeks after firing Officer Cory Prine for violating the department’s policy on stun gun use.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the Sorrento Police Department last fall at the request of the council. Sheriff Jeff Wiley said the investigation found mismanagement by Theriot but not criminal wrongdoing.

In addition, three current or former officers — Catherine Gil, Kermit Givens and Tige Scott — have alleged discrimination and harassment tactics by the chief.

Other business included:

OVERDUE BILLS: Jacob Waguespack, the town’s accountant, told the council it was facing more than $20,000 in unpaid sewer and garbage bills — down from a previously reported figure of about $32,000. About half of the bills are owed by active customers, while the other half are related to closed or inactive accounts, he said.

Waguespack suggested the council look at writing off or sending to collections the closed and inactive accounts, and make a concerted effort to collect the active overdue bills.

ZONING ADMINISTRATOR: Councilman Milton “Needlenose” Vicknair, who is in his final week on the council after losing his re-election bid, resigned as the town’s zoning administrative officer. The council then appointed Councilman Randy Anny to the position.