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State Fire Marshal deputy arrested on Malfeasance in Office, other charges

State Fire Marshal
Posted at 8:50 AM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-06 11:10:56-05

A State Fire Marshal's deputy in Lake Charles has been arrested on charges of malfeasance in office.

The SFM says that Corporal James "Clay" Barrett was arrested on a warrant for eight counts First Degree Injuring Public Records and three counts of Malfeasance in Office. He was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on December 6.

According to deputies, the investigation began in November after reviews of Barrett's fire investigation case files revealed inconsistencies. The investigation uncovered that Barrett had allegedly taken steps to cover up incomplete and incorrect investigative work in two cases.

Barrett resigned from his position following his arrest, according to deputies.

SFM says that other fire investigation cases in which Barrett was involved are being reevaluated for any similar inconsistencies.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning released a statement on Barrett's arrest.

"To be a State Fire Marshal deputy is more than just a job; it's a commitment to public safety and abating arson with integrity and pride. These allegations against Clay Barrett are disgraceful. They should not diminish the upstanding reputation of the dozens of deputies who represent this agency day in and day out with good, honorable work for the people of Louisiana. They also should not discredit the quality of the hundreds of fire investigations the agency conducts throughout each year. We will not tolerate anything less than the utmost professionalism from our agency and its employees."

The department says that no additional comments will be made on the case due to the ongoing criminal proceedings.