ST. MARTINVILLE — During a special meeting Tuesday afternoon the St. Martinville City Council agreed to ask the Louisiana State Police to investigate how copies of material missing from Police Chief Ricky Martin’s personnel file ended up as an attachment to a “poison pen” letter sent to local officials last month.
“I am not letting this go,” Martin said.
The letter began showing up in the mailboxes of city council members, administration officials and members of the civil service board shortly after Martin refused to arrest Mayor Pro Tem Craig Prosper on malfeasance charges as Mark Brignac, the owner of Evangeline Mobile Home Park, had requested.
“This is all politically motivated,” Martin said. “I can’t believe this is all over some electric lines.”
Brignac has been fighting with the city council, in particular with Prosper, for more than a year over electric poles, transformers and lines servicing his park that need to be replaced. Prosper has resisted having the city perform the work until Brignac removes several homes from encroaching on the city’s utility easement and moves them so they are not under the city’s power lines.
Public Works Superintendent Brian Touchet said he has also been targeted because of his interaction with Brignac.
“I’ve been the victim of the same thing,” Touchet said. “I hope they catch them.”
The letter, dated Nov. 21, claims that Martin forged and fabricated his General Education Diploma, or GED. Martin denies the charge, and has already contacted the state Board of Education to have his transcripts sent for the administration to review.
According to a police department press release, copies of Martin’s diploma, law enforcement certifications and resumé were missing from his personnel file in city hall. The files are kept in Chief Administrative Officer Avis Gutekunst’s office. According to Gutekunst, only she and Mayor Melinda Mitchell have keys to the office.
Mitchell said she supports having a full investigation.
“Whatever it takes to get to the bottom of what happened,” Mitchell said. “Let the State Police go through everything with a fine-tooth comb.”
Prosper said he had not opened his packet, which should include a copy of the letter, a copy of Martin’s diploma, and a copy of the law regarding the educational requirements of the chief of police.
“Mine was never opened,” Prosper said.”So any evidence they can find, DNA or whatever, is there.”
Former Assistant Chief of Police Nary Smith tried to interrupt Martin, saying that any investigation should include the treatment of the prior police chief as well.
City Legal Counsel Allan Durand asked that Smith be removed.
“You going to lay your hands on me?” Smith asked the officer who approached him.
“He’s trying to get you to lay your hands on him so he can sue you,” Prosper told the officer. Smith left the room peaceably under escort.
In other business regarding Brignac and his park, the council denied a hardship request from a potential tenant of Evangeline Mobile Home Park because city officials had told the trailer owner and Brignac that the mobile home could not be moved into the park. Brignac had a 200-amp service installed — ostensibly for a security light — then tried to have the trailer hooked up to it.
The park was under a moratorium on adding new trailers because of the ongoing issues with the power supply on the north end of the park, where the trailer was positioned.
According to Touchet, it would cost approximately $2,500 to run power from the south side of the park to the trailer.
After the council shot down the request, the owner, Neal Laperouse, said he would pay the $2,500 to have service connected.
The council agreed that, if the costs were covered privately, he could have service to his trailer from the south side of the park.