Unsolved mystery: Mr. and Mrs. Pope’s plateless vehicles

by Leslie Turk

City Marshal Brian Pope has proven time and again that he doesn’t play by the rules — not even when it comes to putting a license plate on his and his wife’s vehicles.

HIS AND HERS: For years, Brian and Karrie Pope have driven around town in vehicles without plates. About a week ago, Marshal Pope finally put a plate on his SUV.

It's against the law in this state to drive a vehicle without a registered license plate attached to its rear, but Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope has done it for years. As has his wife, Karrie Romero Pope.

But why?

Until about a week ago, the Lafayette city marshal drove his dark-colored Chevy SUV without a rear license plate. The Independent has photographed the vehicle on several occasions over the past few months, most recently capturing images of it without a plate outside of his River Ranch home on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Within a few days of us snapping those pictures, however, Pope — we’re pretty sure he saw us taking the pics — finally decided to put a plate on the vehicle he has been driving since the summer of 2015 (which public records obtained by The IND appear to show is when it was added to the marshal's insurance policy).

Over the past several months, The IND has photographed Marshal Pope's vehicle parked outside of his office and River Ranch home without a rear license plate. Within days of this Jan. 5 photograph, at left, the plate was affixed to the SUV.

As of Thursday, Jan. 14, however, his wife’s black convertible BMW was still without a license plate. One of the couple’s River Ranch neighbors tells The IND neither Pope nor his wife has ever had plates on their vehicles — at least not in the years the Popes have lived in the upscale south Lafayette neighborhood.

But why? Who — besides Steve Jobs — even does that?

Lafayette city court and parish court records indicate that neither Pope nor his wife has ever been cited by the Lafayette Police Department, Louisiana State Police or the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Department for not having a plate on their vehicles. Big surprise there.

Could the motivation be to avoid Safe Speed and Safe Light tickets? We’ll probably never know.

Marshal Pope did not return a phone call or email seeking comment for this story. As IND readers might recall, this is further evidence that Brian Pope doesn’t play by the rules. Before he was elected in December 2014, this paper reported on his failure to pay $7,000 in back child support after 15th Judicial District Judge David Blanchet ordered him to do so. In that case, it took a contempt of court hearing before he finally paid up.

Then there was the $660 fine from the Louisiana Board of Ethics for filing a campaign finance report late; he was also late to file his personal financial disclosure to the board.

But the failure to pay court-ordered child support, the ethics fine and the decision to drive around town without a registered plate on his vehicle all pale in comparison to the protracted and costly legal battle Pope now finds himself in over his failure to turn over court-ordered documents responsive to a public records request from The Independent. That defiance will likely cost him tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and penalties. A Feb. 29 contempt of court hearing (sound familiar?) is the next step in this legal process.

Read more about the public records battle here and check back with us over the next couple of weeks for new video clips from his deposition.