Have you ever wondered about the extent public officials will go to cover for one another? How regularly information is withheld from the public may be an eye opener. Youngsville’s tangled web may have caught many by surprise, but it shouldn’t have. The “we are all one big happy family” concept in government often fosters corruption, cover-ups, and even blackmail. But it is not unique or limited to Youngsville. It is a parish and state-wide phenomena that retreats and reemerges like waves hitting the shore.
Not Youngsville again…
No this article is not about Youngsville. However, Youngsville is the beginning of the bread crumb trail that has led elsewhere. On July 17, 2023, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant for video surveillance footage of the Youngsville Police Department. The very next day, Citizens for a New Louisiana submitted a public records request to Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mark Garber. That request sought the “initial report for any calls for service occurring on July 17, 2023, involving the Youngsville Police Department, Rickey Boudreaux and/or involving occurrences at the Youngsville Police Department.”
An initial report is unequivocally a public record (LARS 44:3(A)(4)(a)). However, the public’s right to know has been a protracted battle in Lafayette Parish of late. Information on criminal activity is regularly being withheld from citizens, including initial report data. At the same time, this law enforcement agency is building a massive, multi-faceted public/private surveillance apparatus to collect terabytes of data on law abiding citizens. This new network of secret cameras, bugs, and related technology has given them unprecedented access to your personal affairs. However, the transparency they now have into your life is empowered through complex, secret agreements that you aren’t allowed to see.
Nothing to see here, move along
On July 27, 2023, Garber, through his taxpayer funded attorney, indicated that there were no records responsive to the request. That same day, John Mowell, who was CC’d on that denial, inexplicably confirmed for The Advocate that the LPSO was indeed conducting an investigation involving the Youngsville Police Department.
Well perhaps the report just hadn’t been prepared yet. So nearly one month after the incident, on August 13, 2023, we sent another request for the initial report. Two weeks later we received the same response – NO RECORDS RESPONSIVE. Now why is that?
Drifting further and further from transparency
On June 14, 2023, two additional public records requests were sent to Sheriff Garber. The first sought “the Internal Affairs section complaint/investigation log for the time period of January 1, 2022 – present.” It took more than a month, but the Sheriff’s attorney finally produced the record for inspection on July 26, 2023. However, the Sheriff’s office redacted the names of all deputies who were under investigation during that time period. The excuse was that the records constituted personnel files and thus the information is “protected.” Whose names are they trying to hide?
The second public records request sent to the Lafayette Sheriff’s office on the same day sought the “Internal Affairs investigative file concerning an incident which occurred on or about August 16, 2022, involving Brennan Miller.” On that day Miller responded to a call within the jurisdiction of the City of Youngsville. Miller was involved in a use of force incident, along with Youngsville Police Officer Eric Segura. You can listen to a snippet of Miller’s interview here!
The subject was allegedly struck approximately seventeen times in the face while restrained behind the back. Miller and/or Segura then allegedly tried to conceal the injuries of the subject by placing a face mask over the injuries before bringing him to the jail for booking. When the nurse at the jail screening the subject for incarceration observed the injuries, she immediately directed officers to bring the subject to the hospital. Upon reviewing the evidence, Youngsville Police Chief Rickey Boudreaux shrugged it off as being ‘not so bad.’ Sheriff Garber’s attorney indicated on June 27, 2023, that the records sought were exempted due to a criminal litigation (LARS 44:3(A)(1)). Exactly who is under criminal investigation here?
More than just an oath
Louisiana Sheriffs are allowed to appoint “as many deputies as necessary” (LARS 13:5537(A)(1)) that “shall take the oath, as prescribed by law.” But as many deputies as necessary for what? The Lafayette Parish Sheriff has deputized some pretty noteworthy individuals over the years. Both Barna Haynes, who was convicted on federal charges for her role in the OWI scandal during District Attorney Mike Harson’s tenure, as well as her husband at the time, Gary Haynes, were both deputized by the former Sheriff. Gary is likely one of the targets of the ongoing federal investigation currently plaguing District Attorney Don Landry’s office.
Some people would downplay whether someone taking an Oath of Office to serve as a Deputy Sheriff infers any special privileges. After all, there are many people deputized by the Sheriff. But just how many of those deputized, aside from Reserve Officers, do not hold full-time employment with the Sheriff? And of those individuals do they tend to be aligned in their activities. Well, let us examine a few.
Deputy Rickey Boudreaux
In his legal battle against the City of Youngsville, Rickey Boudreaux asserted that he is a “police officer” pursuant to LARS 40:1372(5). Under the statute “employee” means any employee of the division of state police in the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.” So, in addition to being the elected Chief of Police, Boudreaux claimed he is also a state trooper?
Although this initially seemed to be an intentional misrepresentation to the court, perhaps Boudreaux was just confused with the commission he received from Sheriff Garber. You see, Boudreaux received a commission from Garber on July 11, 2016, a commission which was never canceled. It is well known that Boudreaux had a long history working for former Lafayette Parish Sheriffs Don Breaux and Michael Neustrom, as well as, Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal. It is less known that he also held (or possibly still holds) a commission from Sheriff Mark Garber. The same Sheriff that is currently tasked with investigating the alleged criminal misconduct of Boudreaux.
Prior to his resignation, Boudreaux exhibited hatred towards many officers working under his command. Officers who have found some level of protection within the Civil Service framework designed to protect them from unfair practices by the appointing authority. While Boudreaux has not openly criticized the civil service system, he has shown contempt for the Board. While other Deputy Sheriffs have launched full frontal attacks on this important system.
Did you know that two Lafayette City Council candidates are deputies?
Kenneth “Comedy Hour” Boudreaux is also a Deputy Sheriff. According to his recently filed Finance Disclosure Report, Boudreaux is a full-time employee of Sheriff Garber, earning a $76,000 annual salary. Boudreaux also indicated that he still has 100% ownership in “To The Front To The Top Consultants, LLC“, an organization which has also been contracted by Sheriff Garber. The bloviating Boudreaux consistently attacked the decision to terminate former Chief Thomas Glover and the decision by the Civil Service Board to uphold that termination.
“Comedy Hour” Boudreaux also launched a campaign against many members of the Lafayette City Police Department, including officer Pablo Estrada. Remember, we opened this article with multiple examples of the Sheriff citing “privacy concerns” while obstructing any record requests for his deputies. Isn’t it strange, then, that he was so quick to release the Estrada video to the news media? Boudreaux, like any sleazy bureaucrat, then managed to get himself appointed to another government post – the Lafayette Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service Board! An appointment which came just prior to the Estrada case being heard by the Board. Coincidence?
“Comedy Hour” cut short
But just before the real “comedy hour” was about to begin, Boudreaux suddenly resigned to avoid having to answer a Motion to Recuse. The controlled mouthpiece raging against the police and members of the Lafayette Municipal Police and Fire Civil Service Board was temporarily disabled. We knew all too well it wouldn’t be long before he reared his ugly head again. You have probably already seen his big mug on campaign signs for Lafayette City Council District 5. Once a puppet, always a puppet.
According to another recently filed Finance Disclosure Report, Rickey Hardy is also a full-time Deputy of Sheriff Mark Garber. He only makes around $30,000 per year. Hardy, who has also served on the Lafayette North Redevelopment Authority Board, is presently seeking to be elected to Lafayette City Council District 1. Maybe he will get a pay raise if he’s elected.
More power to the sheriff?
It would also be good to remember (or know, if you’re just now finding this out) that Sheriff Garber has made no secret of wanting to absorb the Lafayette City Police department into the Sheriff’s office. Over the years, he’s mentioned it to countless elected officials in Lafayette Parish. The Lafayette City Council is under whose purview the police department falls. If both of Garber’s employees are victorious in their election bid, he’d only need one more Councilman to control the majority.
But the vile pool of political cronyism doesn’t end there. There is someone else people should be paying attention to.
Serving more than one master
Rickey Boudreaux suing the Youngsville City Council is still fresh in our minds. But whatever happened to that suit Garber filed against Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government in October of 2019? At that time Garber alleged that City/Parish owed him money for housing and caring for prisoners. LCG, through their attorneys, countersued Garber on January 6, 2020. LCG claimed that it was the Sheriff that owed the City/Parish money. At this time a new administration was just settling into Lafayette City Hall. That included brand new City-Parish Attorney, Greg Logan.
By May of 2020, the lawyers who had countersued Garber were fired and Logan enrolled himself as counsel. Not much has happened since. That matter remains just another piece of pending litigation in which the administration is entangled. Why hasn’t it moved forward? Could this suit have been nothing more than political theatrics?
What’s the motivation?
Greg Logan has been involved in filing all sorts of litigation without the approval of the governing body. Surprisingly, he’s directed numerous suits against Lafayette’s own Police Officers and Civil Service board. Whether it be the matter of Jeremy Roberts, which has been on-going for several years, Pablo Estrada, Bernard Anderson, or the attack upon the Police Association of Lafayette itself, through its former President David Stanley, it’s quite clear that Logan is motivated to attack Lafayette Police and Civil Service System. Why?
As it turns out, just like Rickey Boudreaux, Kenneth Boudreaux, and Rickey Hardy, Greg Logan is also a Deputy Sheriff for Mark Garber. So, while he is supposed to be representing the interests of LCG (and especially in the matter against Sheriff Garber), Logan is a sworn agent of the Sheriff! This may explain Logan’s relentless legal attacks on Lafayette City Police Officers and recent suit against the Civil Service Board. We’ve even scoured the Lafayette City Council meeting minutes and just can’t find any specific authorization (procedural capacity) for any these suits.
Conflicts and cronyism
Considering all of the interplay and flagrant conflicts of interest, how can we trust anything they touch? That was certainly the sentiment Youngsville residents felt with the appointment of an interim Chief of Police was from Garber’s office. Several times during public comment, citizens and council members alluded to the Youngsville Police Department being taken over by Sheriff Mark Garber. Garber was even present in the crowd, but did not speak. Others expressed distrust in any candidate backed by Garber over the very popular Deputy Chief Gabe Thompson.
Now consider the Civil Service system which Garber and his agents have openly criticized following the defeat of his 1¢ sales tax proposition. There is a possibility that two Lafayette City Council seats may soon be held by his deputies. Those are Kenneth Boudreaux and Ricky Hardy. What will become of the Lafayette City Police department if both of these men are successful?
And who exactly is Sheriff Garber protecting by withholding the identities of deputies under investigation? Was it Rickey Boudreaux? Could it be the City Council candidates Kenneth Boudreaux and/or Rickey Hardy? Or could it be Greg Logan? Or maybe he’s just protecting his network of Good Ole’ boys!