A plane belonging to state Sen. Rob Marionneaux was being stored in the Baton Rouge Police Department’s hangar at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Police Chief Dewayne White confirmed Friday.
The plane was first stored in the hangar toward the end of former Police Chief Jeff LeDuff’s tenure, likely sometime in November, White said.
White said the plane needed to land for emergency repairs, and the only space available was the Police Department’s hangar. White did not specify who was flying the plane at the time.
LeDuff gave special permission for the plane to stay in BRPD’s hangar with the understanding that it would be moved out after repairs, White said.
“Chief LeDuff was just trying to be courteous,” White said.
The plane was still in the hangar as of 5 p.m. Friday, White said.
Marionneaux said in an email that his plane was stored in the hangar with “the permission and consent” of LeDuff.
Marionneaux also said his plane “rarely stays in Baton Rouge.”
LeDuff said Friday he remembers giving permission for the plane to be stored in the hangar but does not remember when it happened.
“I know a follow-up should have been done,” LeDuff said.
White said he first heard of the plane Thursday and launched an investigation Friday.
“That hangar being leased with public funds, I don’t know necessarily if I would have made that same decision (as LeDuff),” White said.
White said he wants to see if any instructions were given by command personnel to follow-up and make sure the plane was moved out of the hangar.
“I want to see exactly if there were any other city police officers involved,” White said.
Airport Director Anthony Marino said Thursday that he didn’t know whether Marionneaux’s plane was kept in the hangar because it is controlled by the Police Department.
“It’s being leased by the city,” he said. “I wouldn’t know what his plane looks like or what anybody’s plane looks like.”
The hangar, Marino said, holds the police helicopter.
He said he noticed recently there were two planes in the hangar he did not recognize.
“But I don’t know if that’s (Marionneaux’s) plane in the hangar,” Marino said. “I wouldn’t know it from a Coast Guard Plane or an air patrol plane.”
Marino said BRPD can allow whomever they want to park their plane in hangar. At the time, he said he did not know how much the airport charged the city-parish to rent the hangar.
White said he has not reviewed BRPD’s contract with the airport, but he thinks it would be unlikely the parish attorney’s office would allow private items to be stored in a facility used by a public organization.
“I think that would be a clear violation of state ethics law,” White said.
On a side note, BRPD’s lease for the hangar ended Thursday, White said.
He said Baton Rouge Community College was moving into the hangar to open an aviation school.
Staff writer Rebekah Allen contributed to this report.