Butch Browning is resuming his position as the state’s fire marshal, effective Monday, State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said Friday.
Edmonson’s announcement comes less than a month after the colonel said Browning had retired from his post to accept a job in the private sector.
It also comes amid several complaints about Browning misusing his authority.
The complaints against Browning allege that the former state fire marshal suppressed information about a carnival ride that injured two teens, allowed noncommissioned investigators to purchase their old service weapons, and wore military medals and ribbons without having served in the military, said Rafael Goyeneche III, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a New Orleans-based watchdog organization that focuses on public corruption.
Goyeneche said the Crime Commission has been investigating Browning since it started receiving complaints about the former state fire marshal in September. The commission forwarded its findings to the Inspector General’s Office on March 2, Goyeneche said.
Inspector General Stephen Street said his agency is investigating “a series of complaints” lodged against the state Fire Marshal’s Office. Street said the investigation has been under way “for some time” but declined further comment because it’s a pending matter.
State Police Col. Mike Edmonson said the Inspector General’s Office contacted him a couple of months ago about its investigation into the state Fire Marshal’s Office and he assigned one of his investigators to work with the Inspector General’s Office’s team.
Edmonson said he also launched an internal review, which is routine when someone lodges a complaint against a Department of Public Safety agency.
A letter that former state Fire Marshal Butch Browning purportedly wrote and sent to the governor saying he mismanaged public funds for personal gain was investigated and determined to be a forgery, State Police say.
Capt. Doug Cain said State Police reviewed the letter, which was dated Jan. 3 and addressed to Gov. Bobby Jindal, as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The state Inspector General’s Office is also trying to determine the letter’s origins in a separate probe of complaints about Browning allegedly misusing his authority, State Inspector General Stephen Street said.
The letter says that Browning mismanaged $500,000 of state and federal money for personal gain.
The letter also states that Browning was “partially responsible for the mismanagement of funds” used to send state fire investigators to Tuscaloosa, Ala., in April 2011 to assist the community with damage caused by tornadoes.
In addition, the letter says Browning “misused some federal grant money” and that he wanted to “come clean about my wrong doings” and would “accept any reprimand handed down to me.”