The top two police officials in Henderson will remain in office despite their recent arrests by the Louisiana Inspector General’s Office in connection with an alleged illegal traffic citation quota system, Henderson Mayor Sherbin Collette said Tuesday.
The mayor said he did not consider it necessary for Chief Leroy Guidry or Deputy Chief Oliver Mack Lloyd to step down pending trial.
“We feel like we didn’t do anything wrong,” Collette said Tuesday.
Both men were arrested Aug. 24 on nine counts of filing or maintaining false public records, nine counts of public payroll fraud, and one count each of malfeasance in office and criminal conspiracy.
The state Inspector General’s Office arrested the men following a yearlong investigation into an alleged quota system involving traffic citations issued on Interstate 10. The officers working on the traffic enforcement program were paid for through state grant dollars, according to arrest affidavits.
The investigation began in August 2011 after investigators received a complaint alleging that officers were being paid $15 for each citation written, and were expected to write two tickets per hour, which amounted to a quota system, the affidavit says.
The affidavit says more than $16,000 in fraudulent payments went to officers involved in the program from the $189,000 state grant received by the city.
The investigation found the “citation-based fee (quota system) allowed officers to receive payments for more hours than they actually worked,” the affidavit says.
Investigators also found handwritten notes completed by Lloyd that stated, “# of tickets divided by 2 gives how many hours worked,” the affidavit says.
From 2009 to 2012, the town of Henderson received about $2.4 million in fines and forfeitures from citations issued during the traffic enforcement program, which accounted for more than 80 percent of the town’s overall revenue, the affidavit says.
Collette told investigators that he did not know quota systems were illegal. He maintained that position in an interview with The Advocate last week.
Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars said he has not yet received the complete investigative report from the Inspector General’s Office. Once he receives it, “I’ll review it and make a determination whether there should be additional charges and whether anyone else should be implicated in the activities,” Cedars said.
Defense attorney Warren Ashy was retained to represent Guidry and Lloyd against the possible criminal charges.
Ashy said Tuesday that the process is still in its early stages, “but I can’t figure out where they broke the law based on the affidavit. It looks to us like the clients haven’t done anything wrong.”
Guidry was re-elected as police chief in March. As an elected official, Guidry cannot be suspended by the mayor or town council.
The town of Henderson also operates under the Lawrason Act form of government, which means Guidry also has the sole discretion as to whether to make recommendations to the mayor and Board of Aldermen regarding officer disciplinary action or termination.