NEW ORLEANS -- Wearing military ribbons he didn't earn. Paying FEMA money to rescue crews for attending LSU-Alabama baseball games while helping Tuscaloosa tornado victims. Spending state money on Carnival beads and using employees as chauffeurs a national fire conference in New Orleans.
Those are just some of the complaints against former Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning that remain under state investigation, even with Browning's sudden retirement Tuesday.
"I think it's clear that we're talking about: he resigned while under a cloud while under investigation,” said Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
But perhaps the most serious complaint under investigation involves guns that were reportedly sold to employees of the state fire marshal's office through a manipulation of office policies.
It's not uncommon for a law enforcement agency to sell old firearms to commissioned officers when upgrading to newer weapons. But Browning is facing an allegation that he also sold guns to other employees.
"And the allegation that was made was that the way Mr. Browning circumvented that requirement, he issued a temporary commission to those fire marshal employees that were not commissioned," Goyeneche said.
Sources familiar with the arrangement referred to the practice as "one-day" commissions.
"As soon as they purchased the weapon, then the commission was withdrawn,” Goyeneche said.
As with the other allegations, that complaint was forwarded to state authorities about six months ago. State officials today confirmed that the probe remains active.
"That is, I think, a serious breach of internal policies and rules and we referred that to the state inspector general's office,” Goyeneche said.
Now, even with Browning's hasty departure, Goyeneche believes the public deserves some answers to the lingering allegations against the former Fire Marshal.
"These are some serious allegations that I believe need to see the light of day,” Goyeneche said.
During the course of our reporting on this story, we left several messages for Browning, but he has not returned our calls.