Harry_Brignac

Harry Brignac

French Settlement's police chief stepped down from his elected position on Wednesday, a day after his arrest on counts of malfeasance in office.

Harry Brignac confirmed Wednesday afternoon that he sent a letter of resignation to the Louisiana Secretary of State. The letter notes his resignation was effective at noon.

He declined to comment further. 

The Secretary of State's website shows the position of French Settlement police chief as vacant.

Brignac’s arrest came four days after his wife, Tammy Brignac, was booked on driving one of his department's police cars even though her driver's license had been suspended.

Brignac told law enforcement and local media that he had instructed his wife to drive the marked unit back to French Settlement.

“Because he admitted that he knowingly instructed his wife to drive — while she was ordered by the courts not to operate a vehicle — the chief is charged with malfeasance in office,” Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard said in a statement.

This is the second arrest this year for the police chief on malfeasance in office. Brignac was arrested in July, accused of using the village’s fuel card to buy gas for his personal vehicle. 

French Settlement is a town of 1,200 people in southern Livingston Parish. The police department has two officers and a chief of police. 

Tyler Brey, press secretary for Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, said Wednesday that, under state law, French Settlement governing authorities will need to make an appointment to fill the office of police chief, within 20 days of Brignac’s resignation, which means on or before Nov. 20.

Harry Brignac’s current term as police chief for French Settlement would have expired in 2020. He served as the village’s police chief for seven, four-year terms, since he was first elected in 1988, and was two years into his eighth term when he resigned.

A special election will also need to be called, with available dates, all in 2019, being: March 30 primary election; May 4 general election; and fall gubernatorial election dates of Oct. 12, primary, and Nov. 16, general.

Brey said that, according to state law, if the village of French Settlement calls for the fall gubernatorial election dates, the state will pay for more than 50 percent of the costs of the election.

If the local government doesn’t make an interim appointment or call a special election, the Secretary of State’s Office will ask the governor to do so, Brey said.

French Settlement Mayor Ton Guitrau said Wednesday that the board of aldermen will appoint an interim police chief during its regular meeting on Nov. 14 and call for a special election at a later date.

Guitrau would not say how the interim police chief might be chosen, but said that the village would like to appoint “someone neutral,” who would not seek re-election.

Also on Wednesday, Livingston Parish District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said that Brignac’s resignation is not part of any plea agreement involving the chief or his wife, Tammy Brignac, who was recently arrested for driving a police unit with a suspended driver’s license.

Follow Caroline Grueskin on Twitter, @cgrueskin.