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Sheriff of 'Cajun Justice' Called Out on Football Trips, Baby Oil

Cajun Justice plays well on TV, but, as its leading man found out, it's probably best not to let anyone get too close. Almost a year after his starring role on an A&E reality show came to an end, Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Vernon Bourgeois picked up another multifaceted credit on Monday as the target of a scathing report by Louisiana Legislative Auditor Darryl Purpera. Among other things, Bourgeois didn't pay for travel to Saints and LSU games and allowed deputies to double-dip for their TV work.


Bourgeois is no longer the sheriff in Terrebonne Parish, and none of the charges made by the auditor are pronouncements of guilt. Rather, the auditor states at the end of each charge that they "may" violate the state consitution. In a response, Bourgeois tells the auditor he will pay back the money he owes. 


During filming for the TV show, which was canceled after one season, Bourgeois allowed Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's deputies to work 53 hours filming "re-enactments" of arrests, the audit states. The deputies claimed to be fulfilling their normal duties with police, but they were actually just faking it for the camera. The deputies were improperly paid $988 for 53 hours of reenactments during this time, according to the audit. They were also paid by the production company filming the show for the screen time.


As ever in Cajun Country, football also figured into the equation. From January 2009-November 2011, Bourgeois traveled to Saints and LSU games, but used his Terrebonne Parish credit card since he was in a sheriff's office vehicle. Bourgeois also went to race car events and rented cars for conferences during this time, the audit states. All told, Bourgeois charged about $2,000 on gas money that should've been paid for out-of-pocket, the audit states.


And it wasn't only big time football that got Bourgeois in trouble. The former sheriff allowed deputies to provide a security detail for Nicholls State University when they traveled to away games. Over three footbal seasons, the deputies ran up a bill of $21,392. That may amount to an improper donation, the audit states.


In another problem that any football fan can relate to, Bourgeois was also over the salary cap. He collected $17,225 more than he was allowed to make because of unused leave time, according to the audit. A $600 annual clothing allowance also put him over the cap, the audit states.


The audit also says Bourgeois didn't collect delinquent property taxes for Baby Oil Company, a Houma-based energy company, to the tune of almost $395,000. He also may have violated an agreement by letting inmates work on a public building for Louisiana Workforce LLC.


Along with saying he will paying the money back, Bourgeois is also sure to stick it to current sheriff Jerry Larpenter on his way out. Bourgeois writes that Larpenter used the TPSO credit card for hunting trips and other personal expenses. He also writes that Larpenter receives a clothing allowance -- just like he did.


Larpenter was the sheriff for 22 years before Bourgeois. Bourgeois decided not to seek re-election, and Larpenter resumed the seat. Despite requests from A&E, Larpenter refused to continue Cajun Justice after he was back in the badge.


--Stephen Babcock

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