Head of Louisiana State Police Used Position For Personal Gain

As Louisiana’s longest-tenured State Police superintendent, Mike Edmonson created a life of luxury for his family at taxpayers’ expense, ordering troopers to chauffeur his wife around the state, tapping state resources to service his son’s Jeep and even relying on trusties to walk the family dog at the Department of Public Safety compound where the Edmonsons lived rent-free for years.

Edmonson, who retired amid scandal this year, also allowed friends to stay in New Orleans hotel rooms — paid for by the city of New Orleans — reserved for troopers providing security at Mardi Gras; ate free meals at the State Police cafeteria; ordered inmates to deliver food to his residence; and improperly used the Governor’s Mansion dry-cleaning service to clean his uniforms — while taking a stipend from the state for dry cleaning.

Those are among the findings of a scathing report being finalized this month by the state Legislative Auditor’s Office — an inquiry that portrays Edmonson as a freeloader who never turned down a handout.

The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Advocate, concludes that Edmonson may have broken several laws during his nine years as superintendent, a tenure marked by a pattern of using public resources for personal benefit and questionable excesses, like free tickets to the annual Endymion ball.

Edmonson said Friday that he received the draft earlier this week and was still reviewing it.

“By reporting the document, you will be negating my legal right to review,” he wrote in a text message. “The process is for me to respond back to them first, not the media. Whoever furnished you with the report did so without the approval of the auditor’s office.”

“The report is lengthy and I am preparing a detailed response for the legislative auditor,” he added in a later message. “I look forward to answering any questions after the release of the final report.”

The audit began as a review of State Police travel, ordered by Gov. John Bel Edwards after The Advocate reported this year that a group of troopers charged taxpayers thousands of dollars for overtime and overnight stays at tourist destinations last year as they drove to a law enforcement conference in California.

According to the report, Edmonson falsely told state auditors — as he did the public and the news media — that he “was not aware of the detours to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas until after the trip.”

The Advocate reported Thursday that, in fact, Edmonson remained in contact with the troopers during their entire trip, according to cellphone records and text messages that Edmonson received about his troopers posing in front of the Hoover Dam.

A State Police internal affairs investigation found that Edmonson deleted text messages off the phone of Rodney Hyatt, one of the troopers on the trip who was recently demoted for submitting falsified time sheets, raising the prospect that Edmonson could face criminal charges.

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