Speed trap busted!
GOTCHA! – Henderson police cars lie in wait for unsuspecting motorists exceeding the posted 60/65 mph speed limit for the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge as they accelerate toward the 70 mph zone on Interstate 10 in this 2013 photo. Since the Town of Henderson annexed the strip of I-10 roadbed between the bridge and the Henderson exit in 2005, a significant percentage of its operating revenue has come from fines and forfeitures. After one former high-ranking officer admitted in court to an illegal scheme to pay officers for writing tickets, the police chief agreed to curtail patrolling the interstate for the sole purpose of writing tickets. (File photo)
In 16th Judicial District Court in St. Martinville Monday, former Henderson Assistant Police Chief Oliver “Mack” Lloyd entered a guilty plea for long-standing charges of deceptive and illegal practices in issuing speeding tickets on I-10.
Chief Leroy Guidry, who faced charges in the same case, admitted the principal facts, but pleaded innocent to all but failing to exercise adequate supervision over the assistant chief.
The court action ends all criminal charges in the case, which included public payroll fraud, filing false public records and malfeasance in office
The ticketing practices in question followed the 2005 annexation by Henderson of a part of the interstate corridor. Police operated radar at the point where vehicles come off of the Atchafalaya Basin bridge and the speed limit changes. Parish authorities said that police practices constituted an illegal “quota system.” Lloyd’s plea makes admissions that this was, in fact, the case.
In its April 11 meeting, the Henderson Town Council had approved an appropriation in the amount of $16,000 to repay the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC) for payments to the Henderson police to compensate for overtime pay. Plea documents indicate that these payments resulted from false recording of hours worked.
Speeding tickets on the interstate were recorded under a system, allegedly instituted exclusively by Lloyd, under which every two speeding tickets were recorded as an hour worked. Repayment of those funds to the LHSC was required under the plea agreement.
Lloyd was fined $500, given a six month suspended sentence, two years probation and will pay court costs. No penalties were assessed to any other party. Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars told the Teche News that he was satisfied with the outcome.
Certain changes in Henderson’s patrolling practices on I-10 are required under the agreement. The plea documents indicate that Guidry “has established a policy that Henderson police officers will not patrol Interstate highway 10 for the sole and exclusive purpose of issuing speeding citations.” So the patrol of I-10 cannot be limited to the area immediately west of the Atchafalaya bridge/overpass.” Radar-certification of officers writing tickets on the interstate is now required as well.
By some measures, Henderson has received around 80 percent of town revenues from speeding tickets written at that location since the annexation.