ZURIK: Inspector General launches investigation into Cantrell’s use of city-owned apartment
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Office of Inspector General has launched an investigation into Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s use of the city-owned Upper Pontalba Apartments, sources tell FOX 8.
A series of FOX 8 investigations found Mayor Cantrell spending hundreds of hours in the apartment, often for hours at a time during the workday.
Sources say the Inspector General is looking into whether the mayor has been utilizing the apartment for personal use, which would be a violation of a city policy that says city property is for work-related purposes and should not be used for personal benefit.
Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said he believes Cantrell could also be violating state law.
“I think that the state constitution says public assets shall not be for personal use. This is a clear violation of the state constitution,” Goyeneche said.
The City of New Orleans has owned the Upper Pontalba Apartments for decades. Former city employees tell us in the past it was utilized for meetings, to host out-of-town dignitaries, and occasionally for the mayor to stay at or use.
However, FOX 8 reviewed 45 days of security camera footage from outside the apartment and found Cantrell staying there for hours at a time, often in the middle of the workday.
OUTSIDE THE OFFICE
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Calls for broader investigations into NOPD officer spending time with Mayor Cantrell outside the office
NOPD investigating officer frequently inside Cantrell’s city-owned apartment
Public records reveal there were times when Mayor Cantrell missed meetings while at the apartment.
A source tells FOX 8 the Inspector General could also expand the investigation into who else is using the apartment. Along with Cantrell, the security video shows NOPD Officer Jeffrey Vappie spending hours inside the apartment while on the clock.
Vappie is a member of Cantrell’s security detail but is the only member of her security team that went into the apartment during the video FOX 8 reviewed.
Cantrell was at the apartment on 35 of the 45 days we reviewed. Vappie spent time in the apartment on 27 of those days. He also spent hours inside the apartment when he wasn’t assigned to the mayor’s detail but was on the clock for the NOPD.
Inspector General Ed Michel told FOX 8 his office “doesn’t comment on investigative activity until such time our report is complete.”
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