Lafayette City Marshal Brian Pope began serving a seven-day sentence of house arrest Wednesday on a contempt of court charge he faced in a public records court battle with a Lafayette news organization.
Pope turned himself in at 3:43 a.m. Wednesday to be processed at the Lafayette Parish jail and outfitted with an ankle bracelet GPS tracking device that will be used to monitor his movements.
Pope, 51, is allowed to leave home for work and church, but the marshal must give advance notice of his plans, said Sheriff's Office spokesman John Mowell.
"He has to provide us with an itinerary," Mowell said.
The contempt of court charge stems from a legal battle with The Independent.
The local media organization filed a lawsuit seeking e-mails and other documents that have ultimately shed light on Pope's efforts to use the influence and resources of his office to help Scott Police Chief Chad Leger is his unsuccessful bid for sheriff last year against Sheriff Mark Garber.
Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards sentenced Pope to seven days house arrest in March for withholding documents in violation of the state's public records law.
The sentence had been on hold pending an appeal, but the state Supreme Court last week declined to hear Pope's case.
The contempt of court sentence could be just the beginning of Pope's troubles.
In a related criminal case, a state grand jury indicted him in August of two counts of perjury for allegedly lying under oath when questioned during the public records litigation and three counts related to the alleged misuse of public resources for political purposes.
In one instance, Pope called a news conference at the marshal's office last year to accuse Garber, then a candidate for sheriff, of encouraging illegal immigration into Louisiana. Garber, an attorney, had at one time served Spanish-speaking clients in workers compensation cases.
At the time, Pope framed the news conference as a call for a tougher stance on illegal immigration, but e-mails that surfaced during The Independent's public records case show that Pope worked with Leger, Garber's opponent, to plan the event.
No court date has been set on the criminal charges.
If convicted, the Pope faces up to $10,000 fines and up to five years in jail on each count of perjury and up to $1,000 in fines and two years in jail on each count of misusing public resources.
Pope also would be forced to step down from office if convicted of felony.