BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Instead of East Feliciana Parish District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla prosecuting the cases of the Clinton mayor and former police chief, now, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office will take over instead.
"Sam D'Aquilla had requested our assistance that we take over the prosecution of the cases," said Deputy Director of the Attorney General's Criminal Division Matthew Derbes.
One case is against Clinton Mayor Lori Bell and the other for the town’s former police chief, Fred Dunn, each of whom are charged with one count of malfeasance in office.
Bell is accused of leasing four brand new Chevy Tahoe SUVs for the Town of Clinton in 2016 without the town aldermen’s approval. The 9News Investigators found it cost the town more than $200,000. When council members found out, the SUVs were taken out of circulation. The 9News Investigators also found that while Dunn was the police chief, he signed as the counsel for those leases. Legally, that signature should have come from the town’s attorney. Dunn has since resigned as chief. He and the mayor were both arrested for their alleged involvement with the leases on the SUVs and charge with malfeasance in office.
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“There’s always the potential for conflict given his role as the district attorney,” said Derbes. “The DA also provides civil service in representing the parish in civil suits.”
So now what happens with the AG taking over?
“We would take over as district attorney ad hoc and just go from there; nothing really stops. It took us a small amount of time to acquaint ourselves with the file and bring ourselves up to speed, but from there, we take over as the district attorney acting on behalf of the state,” said Derbes.
The AG’s Office takes over as early as the second week of July, with a court date for both the mayor and former chief schedule for Tuesday, July 9.
"We're looking forward to resolving this matter and bringing justice to the citizens of the Town of Clinton," said Derbes.
The mayor has filed a motion to quash her case, saying her malfeasance charge is too vague. The former chief has a status hearing Tuesday. They’re scheduled for trial August 26.
In a separate, unrelated case, the former chief was arrested again on July 4 for allegedly having stolen construction equipment parked in his backyard.