PORT ALLEN — Former Brusly Police Chief Jamie Whaley was sentenced Thursday to 42 months’ probation and ordered to pay the town of Brusly $600 in restitution after pleading no contest to malfeasance in office.
Whaley’s plea stems from accusations he misappropriated seven firearms owned by the town and forged his name on two checks drawn on the Brusly Auxiliary Police Department’s checking account.
A “no contest” plea has the same effect as a guilty plea in criminal court but would not be an admission of guilt in civil court.
Whaley, 38, avoided more than three years in jail as part of his plea deal, which didn’t sit well with Brusly Mayor Joey Normand.
Whaley, who resigned as police chief after he was arrested in January 2014 on similar but unrelated charges, had nothing to say to reporters as he left the courthouse Thursday.
In court, Normand called Whaley a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who has avoided any real consequences since his first arrest when he was charged with theft and malfeasance in office for using a town-issued credit card to purchase gasoline for his personal truck and boat. A state judge sentenced him to 18 months’ supervised probation and imposed a $500 fine in April 2014 after Whaley pleaded guilty to theft and malfeasance in office.
According to an affidavit for his second arrest, Whaley gave the seven guns to a licensed firearms dealer who sold five of them and transferred ownership of the other two guns to Whaley’s friends.
The town was never compensated for the firearms, the affidavit says.
Whaley also forged two checks drawn on the Brusly Auxiliary Police Department’s checking account, which required the signatures of both Whaley and another person not identified in the affidavit.
The affidavit says Whaley signed his name and forged the name of the other person on both checks.
When asked by investigators if he had signed both signatures on the checks — written to cash for $600 — Whaley replied, “I could have,” the affidavit states.
As for his first arrest, Whaley surrendered to police on Jan. 23 after an investigation by the state Inspector General’s Office and the FBI claimed he had used a fleet services credit card to charge $1,120 in gasoline between Jan. 2, 2013, and Jan. 3, 2014.
Shortly before his arrest, Whaley met with the mayor and wrote a check for $1,122.75 to reimburse the city for the transactions.
“He systematically stole things from the town under the guise of protecting the people while he was the criminal himself,” Normand said after Thursday’s hearing. “I wanted to see him admit to things.”
In his victim impact statement to Judge J. Robin Free, the mayor accused Whaley of using his town-issued credit card more than 400 times for “suspicious purposes” at places like department stores and home decor shops. Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton argued prosecutors could not prove that any of those purchases were illegal after Whaley informed them he used the card to sometimes buy emergency items, like a generator, for the town’s use.
“I think we’ve done our job,” Clayton said. “I’d much rather take what I have proven to convict him on than to charge him with everything that’s there.”
Normand also spoke on the community backlash he and his wife have endured since Whaley’s legal troubles unfolded.
“Our home has been vandalized three times, coincidentally every time he has had some type of hearing,” Normand said in court. “His mother confronted my wife about this. His sister sent me an email blaming me for the first arrest.”
“On social media, everyone is saying Joey is the bad guy and he’s the innocent victim,” the mayor added.
Col. Richie Johnson, chief investigator for the district attorney’s office, called Whaley’s sentence a normal outcome for first offenders.
“He didn’t get penalized for violating his probation because the crimes he committed happened prior to his first offense,” Johnson explained outside the courthouse.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.