District Attorney Stutes investigating Marshal Pope D.A. vows full criminal investigation.

by Leslie Turk

District Attorney Keith Stutes
Photo by Robin May

The Daily Advertiser reported Thursday that 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes confirmed receipt of a criminal complaint against Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope.

Stutes would not comment on the complaint to the Advertiser, but told the paper the matter will be investigated fully.

The matter is the months-long public records dispute between The Independent and the marshal. The IND sued the marshal for access to the records it sought hoping to prove Pope conspired late last year with Scott Police Chief Chad Leger to attack Leger’s then-challenger and eventual winner for Lafayette Parish sheriff, Mark Garber. On March 24 Pope was held in contempt of court by District Judge Jules Edwards for defying a court order to turn over public records to this news organization. Read more about the bizarre press conference Pope and Leger collaborated on here.

Edwards ordered Pope to pay The IND’s legal fees, court costs and penalties, all of which now amount to more than $100,000. In what appears to be unprecedented in the state in a public records case, the judge also sentenced the marshal to 30 days in jail, suspending all but seven of them. On Monday Pope was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center and quickly released after posting a $500 bond. He is appealing the contempt ruling.

October 2015_

Pope abuses his office to play politics on behalf of his friend, sheriff candidate Chad Leger

The IND seeks records in connection with that episode, which Pope refuses to turn over

November 2015

The IND files suit to obtain the withheld records.

December 2016

District Court Judge Jules Edwards orders Pope to turn over the requested records.

The marshal produces an incomplete response

He lies under oath about it.

January 2016

Judge Edwards rules Pope's responses “woefully inadequate” and a contempt hearing is scheduled.

March 2016

Testimony proves that Pope knowingly withheld records from The IND’s request and that he lied about the Leger campaign’s involvement.
Pope sentenced to jail time, public presentations and thousands in fines.
Advocate editorial urges criminal investigation of the marshal.

April 2016
Pope's own legal fees approach $50K, and he pays for them from marshal's account.
Daily Advertiser editorial suggests Pope be investigated for malfeasance and perjury.

In his video deposition and a hearing before Judge Edwards, Pope lied about his authorship of press conference materials and use of an email service called Campaigner, public records show, and also admitted that he used the resources of the marshal's office for his own fund raising.

Where it all started: Marshal Pope at his Oct. 7 press conference
Photo by Robin May

Depending on where investigators take the case, the city marshal could face criminal charges of abuse of office, malfeasance in office and perjury, according to Title 42 of the Louisiana Revised Statute, as well as an inquiry from the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

Stutes was not immediately available for comment.