Pearl River Mayor James Lavigne, indicted earlier this month on seven felony charges, pleaded not guilty on all counts this week and was ordered to post a $7,500 bond before Nov. 7, according to the St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court’s Office website.
Lavigne was indicted Oct. 8 on four counts of malfeasance in office, two counts of unauthorized use of a movable and one count of theft of more than $500 but less than $1,500.
Most of the charges stem from his purchase of a generator and a boat and boat accessories with public funds, although the boat and accessories were for his personal use. Lavigne admitted making at least some of the purchases with town funds to avoid paying sales taxes. He later reimbursed the town for some of the purchases.
Lavigne also allowed Diane Bennett Hollie, the town’s clerk, to take extra paychecks and receive pay for vacation to which she was not entitled, according to the indictment.
Hollie also was indicted on four counts: two of unauthorized use of a movable, one of malfeasance and one of theft of more than $1,500. A charge of unauthorized use of a movable usually refers to an instance where a person uses someone else’s property without permission.
She also pleaded not guilty Wednesday and was ordered to post a $7,500 bond before Nov. 7.
The indictments reflected many of the allegations made in a Legislative Auditor’s Office report that lambasted Lavigne, Hollie and Pearl River Police Chief Bennie Raynor for a litany of misuses of public funds.
At the time, Lavigne called the audit a political attack and ripped it as faulty and based on information from his opponents.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.