Judge grants mayor’s motion for bench trial; rejects recusal request

Posted at 4:03 PM, Oct 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 12:30:52-04
Reginald Tatum
Opelousas Mayor Reginald Tatum / KATC

A state district judge has granted Opelousas Mayor Reggie Tatum’s request to waive his right to a jury trial.

Tatum was indicted a year ago on multiple felony charges in connection with his payment to himself of nearly $13,000 in overtime for work during and after the August 2016 floods.

He faces:

  • One count malfeasance in office
  • Four counts injury of public records. In these counts, he’s accused of creating false time sheets for city council members Marvin Richard, Tyrone Glover, Sherryl Roberts and Julius Alsandor.
  • Four counts filing false public records. In these counts, he’s accused of filing the false time sheets into the city’s records.
  • Theft of more than $10,000 but less than $25,000
  • Five counts of forgery. These charges are related to the alleged false time sheets.

According to court records, Judge James Doherty Jr. heard from Tatum, his girlfriend, a lady who worked on his campaign, and Assistant District Attorney Charles Cravins. Also testifying was former state Senator Elbert Guillory, who also is an attorney.

On Friday, the court also heard a motion from Tatum to recuse the District Attorney’s Office from the case and to quash, or throw out, the indictment against him. That motion was denied.

In the motion, Tatum’s attorney alleged that Cravins, during a 2004 radio show, said bad things about Tatum, who was running for mayor against Cravins’ brother, Don Cravins, at the time. The motion alleged that Cravins was “an outspoken critic” of Tatum on his show, and an “ardent supporter” of his brother. The motion also alleged that District Attorney Earl Taylor’s law firm made contributions to Don Cravins’ campaign fund.

For those reasons, and for the “open animosity” shown on the radio show by Cravins, the DA should have recused himself from prosecuting Tatum, the motion argued.

After the evidence was heard, the judge ruled that “there is insufficient evidence to recuse the district attorney’s office” and denied the motion, court records show.

There is currently no trial date set, records indicate.