Opelousas Mayor “corruption” case dismissed by judge

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OPELOUSAS, La (KLFY) – In St. Landry Parish, a judicial judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the mayor and other city officials over a public records request.

For the past month, Opelousas Mayor, Reginald Tatum, has been battling accusations of clocking illegal overtime during the August flood.

“The mayor started accumulating overtime before the flood happened,” said Opelousas resident, Derrick Comeaux

Since that time, Comeaux filed a public records request in hopes of shining light on what he says is corruption at city hall.

Opelousas city officials say Comeaux’s request entailed more than 4,000 documents to be produced in a 5-day timeframe.

“We did answer in that time frame and we asked for a little more time and Mr. Comeaux wouldn’t allow us to have that,” said Mayor Tatum.

“It was payroll records, bank account information, quite frankly things that needed to be gone through page by page to make sure there wasn’t private and confidential information that was being released,” said attorney Rodney Braxton, who’s representing both Mayor Tatum and Opelousas City Clerk, Leisa Anderson.

That led to officials asking for a 7-day extension to produce the documents.

“It was always our intent to provide the documents,” said Braxton. “At no point did anyone from the city, Mr. Claiborne included, say you’re not getting these documents. All we did say was we need more time.”

A request not honored by Comeaux, instead he filed a lawsuit against Mayor Tatum, Anderson, and Claiborne.

“We did file the suit a couple days premature,” said Comeaux.

“It’s pure harrasment on the part of Mr. Gennuso and Mr. Comeaux,” said Opelousas City Attorney, Jarvis Claiborne. “They really ought to be ashamed of themselves, behaving like little kids. It’s foolish and it’s hurting the city.”

After two judges recused themselves from the case, 27th Judicial Judge, James Doherty Jr., dismissed the case Monday morning citing Comeaux didn’t give city officials a reasonable amount of time to respond to his request.

In court Monday, Comeaux was provided over 1,000 documents and city officials say they will provide the 2500 or so remaining documents to him sometime this week.

In the meantime, Comeaux says he’ll be discussing his next steps with his attorney.

“We do have some legal remedies available to us and we’re going to exhaust them all,” said Comeaux.

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