Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill that will allow the Lafayette City Marshal to keep, with a limit, some of the court fees that landed former Marshal Brian Pope in legal trouble.
State law, until passage of the bill by state Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette, allows other city marshals to keep certain court fees. Lafayette and Shreveport were excluded.
Bill would let Lafayette city marshal keep some court fees that got Brian Pope indicted for malfeasance
The new law will allow City Marshal Reggie Thomas and his successors to keep for personal use certain fees from the city court system, not to exceed 50% of his $88,000 salary, boosting his salary to about $132,000 a year. He would have to deposit the remainder of the fees, if there are any, in the office account.
A 2017 opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office advised Pope he could not supplement his income by keeping fees from services such as serving eviction notices and subpoenas and garnishments. He continued to do so and now faces 17 felony counts of malfeasance in office.
He is accused of keeping more than $84,000 between January and October 2018, according to charges filed against him by the district attorney’s office. At one point, between his $83,000 salary and fees, Pope took home about $200,000 a year.
Pope has a pre-trial court hearing June 14.
Boudreaux said in April the legislation was designed to remove any room for interpretation of the law.
The Lafayette City Marshal is among the lowest-paid in the state for larger cities, Doug Saloom, chief city court judge, said in April. The proposed legislation, he said, seems like a fair way to increase the marshal’s pay and address concerns that the marshal could boost his pay to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by keeping the court fees.