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Police chief resigns amid accusations of malfeasance in grand jury indictment for soliciting sexual favors

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James Wilkins

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

(TNS)

Nov. 29—Plaquemine Police Chief Kenny Payne resigned Monday amid reports that he entered a plea deal to settle malfeasance accusations against him.

A grand jury had indicted Payne just last week, saying he solicited sexual favors from a woman whose boyfriend had been charged with a crime. He also was accused of asking a lieutenant to delete text messages that referred to the misconduct allegations and of asking the sheriff to drop the investigation.

District Attorney Tony Clayton did not return messages seeking comment Monday. Baton Rouge television stations said Payne appeared in court Monday but they gave conflicting accounts of what happened. WAFB said Payne pleaded guilty to two counts of malfeasance, while WBRZ said he pleaded no contest. The difference couldn’t immediately be resolved. Both stations reported he was given a three-year suspended sentence.

WBRZ reported that a woman provided the court with a victim impact statement that said “I’m so glad I could keep you from doing this to anyone else.”

Court documents allege Payne solicited sexual favors from the woman in April, asking that she show him her breasts and perform oral sex on him in order to get the charges dropped against the woman’s boyfriend. The next day, the indictment said, Payne ordered a lieutenant to delete text messages from the woman to the lieutenant reporting the sexual misconduct.

Payne also requested Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stasi to not conduct or to cease conducting an investigation into him after the woman filed a sexual misconduct complaint against the police chief with the sheriff, the documents allege.

An additional count of malfeasance in office alleges Payne used a City of Plaquemine storage locker for personal use.

Payne was appointed police chief in May 2015 following the death of the previous chief, Orian Gulotta. Payne had served as Gulotta’s second in command since 2002.

Payne, a Republican, won a special election for the position later that year in a runoff against Oscar Mellion.

Plaquemine Mayor Ed Reeves issued a statement Monday noting that he and the Board of Selectmen will have 20 days from Nov. 29 to appoint an interim police chief.

“I will call a special meeting within that 20-day period to make this appointment,” Reeves wrote in a statement. “The interim chief will serve in that capacity until an election can be held for police chief next year.”

In his resignation letter, Payne made no mention of the charges against him: “Effective today, Nov. 29, 2022 I am retiring from my position as Chief of Police of the city of Plaquemine” he wrote before telling Reeves it had been an honor and privilege to work with him.

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