The Sorrento Police Department has been at the center of several investigations that have come before the town council. A long list of allegations of wrong-doing within the police department has landed on the desk of 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin. He said some of the complaints are more than a year old.
“Payroll fraud, use of public funds for private purposes, use of public fuel in private vehicles, things of that sort,” Babin said were some of the allegations.
The town council fired its Assistant Police Chief Billy Ballard on Tuesday. In a notice to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, Mayor Wilson Longanecker Jr. lists: payroll fraud, use of public property for personal use, failure to cooperate during an investigation and failure to comply with a previous suspension as reasons for Ballard’s dismissal.
It asks officers if they know of incidents of:
– Improper use of personal vehicles
– On duty officers not within jurisdiction of town getting paid
– Entering improper, incorrect or fraudulent payroll information
– Improper use of town assets
– Improper use of equipment
– Any actions to cover-up investigations
Babin is tasked with finding out whether any of the complaints filed have merit.
“I have absolutely no facts to warrant any grand jury to ask for any warrants so I need somebody to investigate it.”
“If there’s evidence that exists and we have to bring it to court we’ll have a very tough time getting a conviction. It affects public safety.”
Babin said he is not sure what is going on in the small Town of Sorrento.
“I don’t know if it’s political, one trying to one-up the other, or going through the extent of corruption that’s been alleged but we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said his investigators met on Friday with a Sorrento employee and will continue looking into the allegations on Monday.
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