Jeanerette top cop popped in topless probe

by Patrick Flanagan

For decades, the city of Jeanerette has dealt with a troubled police department and a crime wave that doesn't stop; the situation worsened last week with the arrest of Police Chief Marvin Grogan as part of a months-long investigation of a Lafayette gentleman's club.

Marvin Grogan

For decades, the Iberia Parish city of Jeanerette has dealt with a troubled police department and a crime wave that seems never-ending.

Since 1987, there’s been a constantly revolving door to the office of the city’s top cop, which has seen 11 different chiefs come and go in that time. In the last five years alone, the city’s PD has undergone three different leadership changes, starting with the arrival of a new mayor in the summer of 2011.

With that new administration came the first of those three change-overs, as then-Mayor Timothy de’Clouet, having inherited a police chief appointed under the previous administration, was ready for a chief of his own choosing. So the chief at the time, Larry Jones, was handed his walking papers to make room for the new mayor to appoint his preferred pick for the chief's job. With Jones out, de'Clouet turned to Mannie Mendoza to take over as chief and turn the tide on the city's crime problem.

Yet, the honeymoon between de’Clouet and Mendoza wouldn’t last. And by the next summer, the city’s PD would already be under the leadership of another chief. Mendoza’s replacement: Lt. Marvin Grogan, a 16-year veteran of the department who had served as second-in-command during Larry Jones’ tenure as head of the department.

Grogan’s appointment to lead the department in 2012 came with a promise of improved public relations, of bridging the steadily growing divide between the department and the community.

Grogan would hang on longer than most, serving for close to three years as chief, but it all came to an end (at least for now) last week, according to a statement issued by city officials following Grogan’s arrest Friday by Lafayette Metro Narcotics agents.

Mayor Aprill Foulcard — who succeeded de’Clouet following his death last year — issued this statement Friday:

The city attorney and I have met with Chief Grogan and informed him that he has been placed on paid administrative leave, [effective] immediately, pending further investigation into the charges levied against him. Gloria Lombard will assume the role of interim Chief of Police for our city.

To say the city is shocked to learn of these charges is an understatement, but I want our citizens to know we will cooperate in any manner necessary with the investigation.

According to arrest logs, Grogan was charged with malfeasance in office, as well as three additional counts of compounding a felony for his alleged role in a Lafayette Metro Narcotics investigation into Lipstick’s Gentleman’s Club.

The investigation into Lipsticks has been ongoing for the last eight months, according to this report from The Adovcate, with Grogran being the 14th person tied to a case involving an underage runaway allegedly involved in acts of prostitution while working at the club.

From The Advocate's report:

During the investigation, agents allegedly saw employees and patrons involved in lewd acts, narcotics being used and alcohol being sold to minors, the news release said.

The runaway was found to have been working as a dancer in the club and was returned to her family, the news release said.

Agents with the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control in a May 14 raid issued citations for 18 counts of lewd acts on the premises, four counts of prostitution on the premises, three counts of controlled substances on the premises and one count of failure to keep the premises clean and sanitary, the news release said.

Among those arrested were the Johnston Street club’s owner, Mohammed Ali Makki, on 10 counts of obscenity and one count of keeping a disorderly place. The Lafayette Fire Department also issued the owner five parish fire code violations and one state fire code violation, the news release said.

For more on the shaky history of the Jeanerette PD, go here and here.