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Portions of embattled Marshal's salary could be illegal - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Portions of embattled Marshal's salary could be illegal

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Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope speaks at an October 2015 press conference that ultimately led to a public records lawsuit, house-arrest sentence and seven-count felony indictment. Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope speaks at an October 2015 press conference that ultimately led to a public records lawsuit, house-arrest sentence and seven-count felony indictment.

Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope has requested an attorney general's opinion about the legality of his six-figure salary. 

According to the most recent audit, from January through October, 2015, Pope doubled his $80,730 salary with civil fees ($59,882), garnishments ($22,510) and various allowances ($3,305) for a total of $166,427. Supplementing salary with civil fees and garnishments is a practice that was also followed by Pope's predecessor, Earl "Nicky" Picard. 

In 2016, auditors recommended that he request an opinion from the attorney general, on whether some of his income was legal. 

KATC Investigates obtained Pope's request for an opinion. Pope requests clarification on what fees he's able to collect and how much he can personally keep. Pope referenced several state laws, including RS 13:5807, which allows marshals to collect set fees based on a list of job activities. For instance serving someone a lawsuit requires a $10 fee. But another state law, RS 13:1883(D), doesn't allow marshals in Shreveport and Lafayette to collect those fees. 

The Attorney General's Office has addressed the issue before. In 2011, Shreveport Marshal Charlie Caldwell, requested an opinion on whether he could supplement his salary with collections outlined in RS 13:5807. The attorney general opined that state law did not authorize receipt of the fees, citing RS 13:1883(D), which exempts marshals in Lafayette and Shreveport. 

In the most recent audit and financial disclosure reports, Marshal Caldwell's salary did not include civil fees nor garnishments.

So far, the attorney general has not issued an opinion on Pope's request. 

KATC reached out to Pope and his attorney for comment, but we did not get an immediate response. 

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