COVINGTON, La. -- In a May 7 Notice of Investigation, Police Chief Tim Lentz says a surprise audit of the confidential informant fund, last month, turned up questionable record-keeping regarding the fund's expenditures.
The letter says Det. Bart Ownby and Sgt. Stephen Culotta had been in charge of more than $18,000 for the fund since last year and they were being placed on temporary patrol duty during the investigation into possible inappropriate actions.
Lentz said, “As I uncover things that are questionable and warrant further evaluation, we'll address those head on.”
In this case, Lentz asked Mandeville Police to look into the questionable records he uncovered, naming 11 in the letter.
Those include inconsistent documentation of payments to informants, as well as for informants at hotel rooms, payments being made without signatures or mention in a police report and new payment amounts being written over scratched out amounts.
There's also a claim that a gas purchase was documented with just a picture of a gas pump. Chief Lentz says this latest investigation stems solely from his promise to the people of Covington when he took over.
"We'll work every day to rebuild the trust of the public,” said Lentz, “If we discover something improper, we'll address it."
Mayor Mike Cooper said in a statement, "I fully support Chief Lentz in his efforts to identify and correct deficiencies in the Covington Police Department. This investigation will determine if corrective action or discipline are warranted."
It's a move Lentz hopes is a benefit to the department, as opposed to another black eye. The officers have 30 days to give their side of the story, if they choose.
Ownby declined comment for our story while Culotta did not respond to an email requesting comment.