Unfolding like an episode of your favorite daytime soap opera is what some would term a “culture of corruption” in the City of Youngsville. Within that tangled web you can find predators, prey, and plenty of dead bodies. This community has, for years, been viewed as a hamlet on the hill, or more appropriately in a valley. But once again it is being inundated by deep waters from a different source that have their own severe consequences for everyone they touch.
At the Youngsville Police Civil Service Board Meeting last week the Board approved the personnel action of Chief Rickey Boudreaux terminating Sergeant Justin Ortis. Ortis was one of the Youngsville Police Officers who responded to the traffic crash in November of 2022 involving Youngsville City Councilman Kayla Reaux. Reaux has since resigned her post. Ortis through his counsel, Allyson Melancon, has appealed the termination.
Boudreaux, speaking at the March 30, 2023, council meeting, (and indicating that he had been asked by the Council to take a voluntary leave of absence) stated he was the “duly elected chief by the citizens of this city, not by you the Council.” Boudreaux went on to accuse the Mayor and members of the Council of all requesting and receiving special privileges from his office. Boudreaux also alleged that on March 2, 2023, he received a text message from Councilman Lindy Bolgiano with regards to “fixing” a ticket. Louisiana Revised Statute 32:398.3 makes it illegal for any person to cancel or solicit the cancellation of any traffic citation.
In response to the Council considering whether to investigate the actions of Boudreaux he stated “the only decision-making power you, the council, have is on the budget of this department and my salary. If you vote down my budget, you’re not hurting me, but instead are jeopardizing the safety of every citizen of this community.”
Today, Youngsville Police Department Sergeant Brian Baumgardner has resigned his position on the Youngsville Police Civil Service Board. Baumgardner, who served as the representative appointed for the Youngsville Police Department, cited the “upcoming high profile case” (Ortis) and the “probability of retaliatory action” against him as his reasons for stepping down from the Board.
Baumgardner does have cause for alarm. According to records in June of 2021 an investigation was launched into the conduct of Baumgardner. The allegations made against Baumgardner were that he “may have taken actions which undermine the Chief, and/or the administration of the Youngsville Police Department.” More specifically, he may have been the person “going to the La. State Police and DA’s office in an attempt to launch an investigation into Chief Boudreaux and/or his administration, regarding ticket fixing.”
Interestingly enough in the 2022 Legislative Session Representative Kyle Green (2/10) brought bill HB745, which was signed into law (Act 634) providing whistleblower protection to police officers. Under Louisiana Revised Statue 40:2537 “no police employee shall be discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed, or discriminated against in any manner in the terms and conditions of his employment because of any lawful act engaged in by the employee or on behalf of the employee in furtherance of any action taken to report malfeasance in office by police employees to law enforcement, whether such fellow employee is a co-worker, supervisor or subordinate.” While the law creates a cause of action for police employees to sue their “employer” for violations which may constitute “malfeasance in office” it is silent in many respects. Does an elected Chief fit into the definition “co-worker” or “supervisor”? Does there need to be a criminal conviction of malfeasance in order for the matter to be successful? Who constitutes the “employer,” specifically in the Youngsville scenario, the Chief of Police, the City of Youngsville, or both?