Louisiana mayor arrested after malfeasance, theft indictment
OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) — A Louisiana mayor has surrendered to authorities following his indictment earlier this week on 15 counts, including malfeasance in office and theft, stemming from overtime payments he received after the August 2016 flood.
Multiple media outlets report Opelousas Mayor Reggie Tatum was arrested Friday at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office. Afterward Tatum posted a $10,000 bond and was released.
An attorney for Tatum was not listed in court records and he was unavailable for comment Friday. But on Friday he posted comments on his Facebook page, thanking supporters for their prayers and noting that this week’s events would not affect his position of mayor.
“I will still be mayor and I plan to move forward with the positive progress no matter what the obstacles,” Tatum wrote in the post.
Tatum is in his first term after defeating two-term incumbent Donald Cravins Sr. in a 2014 runoff election. He has said he plans to run for re-election in 2018.
A grand jury indicted Tatum on a charge of first-degree injury of public records, filing or maintaining false public records and forgery. All 13 of those charges relate to time sheets for Aldermen Marvin Richard, Tyrone Glover, Sherrell Roberts and Julius Alsandor. Tatum and the aldermen were paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for their volunteer work at the city’s civic center, where a shelter opened for residents who fled their homes because of rising water, according to previous news reports.
Tatum also was charged with malfeasance in office and theft between $5,000 and $25,000, according to the indictment.
An investigative audit released in May by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office revealed numerous problems with the city of Opelousas, including nearly $13,000 the mayor claimed in overtime pay for working at the shelter even though he is a salaried employee.
Tatum claimed he was told by FEMA workers and a consulting firm handling the shelter operations that he and other city workers were eligible for reimbursement by the federal agency.