The Louisiana State Police Commission sharply reduced the punishment for three Louisiana State Troopers who took an extravagant side trip while driving to a law enforcement conference in San Diego in Oct. 2017.
The high-profile case ultimately led to a sweeping internal investigation and the sudden retirement of the former State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.
The reduced punishments were announced Thursday at the Commission’s regular meeting in Monroe, La. The ruling came after four days of hearings in July in which the troopers testified that their luxury detour to the Grand Canyon and Las
Vegas had been approved by Edmonson.
Following Edmonson’s departure, his replacement, Col. Kevin Reeves, demoted two of the troopers and issued a letter of reprimand to the third.
The commission reversed the demotions, reinstated the troopers' previous salaries and, in the case of the third trooper, rescinded his letter of reprimand.
Here is the breakdown on the commission's ruling.
-- Derrell Williams was reinstated to major and given a 40-hour suspension.
-- Rodney Hyatt was reinstated to lieutenant and, as the leader of the trip, given a 500-hour suspension.
--Trooper Thurman Miller's letter of reprimand was reversed.
The troopers had been disciplined after an internal investigation found they were paid thousands of dollars in overtime pay while staying overnight at the Grand Canyon and a casino resort in Las Vegas.
The troopers paid back some of the questionable overtime. But at their appeal hearing last month, Edmonson admitted encouraging the troopers to take the scenic route.
“My son had driven in that direction and I found the southern route to be, and I think we used the word boring,” Edmonson testified.
The decision is a slap in the face to current state police Superintendent in Reeves, who argued that the troopers' repayments were an admission of wrongdoing and that their unwarranted travel perk gave the agency a black eye.
Reeves testified that the time sheets submitted by the troopers were false.
“It was not an accurate document that he submitted to our agency. He didn't accurately reflect the expenses on his expense account that he incurred,” Reeves testified at the July hearing.
With the decision, attention now shifts to former Edmonson, who remains the subject of a federal investigation into the San Diego trip as well as a wide array of tax-payer funded perks that he enjoyed as superintendent.
That FBI-led investigation includes Edmonson frequent use of state helicopters, his stays at luxury hotel rooms in New Orleans during Carnival and his free use of state-owned property as his primary residence for nine years.