Thirteen East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s deputies were recently transferred and demoted for failing to give per diem money for travel expenses to Baton Rouge police riding with deputies on extraditions, authorities with the Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
Personnel at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, which is run by the Sheriff’s Office, were notified by a Baton Rouge police officer on June 15 that deputies with the Sheriff’s Transportation Division were not passing on a $44 a day per diem for meals, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said.
Instead, the deputies were buying the officers food and pocketing the change, she said.
Prison officials launched an investigation into the police officer’s complaint and forwarded their findings to the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Division on June 16, Hicks said. Thirteen deputies were transferred and demoted on June 24.
The supervisor of the Transportation Division also was demoted and transferred, Hicks said, and the sheriff’s policy on distributing per diem money was changed.
The names of the deputies and their supervisor were not released.
Based on the sheriff’s investigation, from Feb. 16, 2009, until May 26 of this year, the deputies did not distribute $4,224 in per diem payments to Baton Rouge police riding with them on 47 extradition trips, Hicks said.
According to receipts, deputies spent $1,028 on meals for the police officers, Hicks said. The deputies kept the remaining per diem allotted for those officers, she said.
The deputies were required to make restitution to the Sheriff’s Office, which reimbursed the Baton Rouge officers the full $4,224, Hicks said.
The deputies were transferred to Parish Prison and those with any rank were demoted to that of deputy, she added. The deputies also were given five-day suspensions.
The deputies’ supervisor, who was found to have provided little to no instruction, was demoted from lieutenant to deputy, Hicks said. He too was transferred to Parish Prison.
The Sheriff’s Office also changed its per diem policy to require the office’s finance and budgeting department to issue a check to each deputy or officer traveling on extraditions, Hicks said.
Prior to this change, deputies were given only one check to cover their own travel expenses as well as the expenses of other officers traveling with them, Hicks said.
The sheriff also notified the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office and the state Legislative Auditor of the incident.
Sgt. Don Stone, a spokesman with the Police Department, said 28 officers received checks Thursday.
“The Sheriff’s Office is a well run professional organization,” Stone said. “Although this comes as a surprise, we do understand the totality of the incident, and it will not hinder our relationship with the Sheriff’s Office.”
Sheriff Sid Gauteraux said “I’m disappointed this happened” and called the incident “a very unfortunate situation.”
However, he said, “our agency immediately launched a full investigation, took disciplinary action, made restitution and made policy changes.”