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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Lockport police chief resigns following arrest

Lockport police chief resigns following arrest

Lockport’s police chief resigned Tuesday after his indictment two weeks ago on eight felony charges.

Mayor Ed Reinhardt announced on the town’s Facebook page that Warren Vedros Sr. had given up the role as of noon that day.

A special meeting will be held tonight for the Town Council to appoint an interim chief, the mayor said. Assistant Police Chief Ricky Breaux will assume Vedros’ responsibilities until then.

Also at the meeting, the council will call for a special election to replace Vedros. Today is the last day to get an item on the ballot for the Oct. 14 election.

A grand jury on May 31 indicted Vedros on charges of theft, forgery, three counts of malfeasance in office and three counts of filing false public records. He was booked into the Lafourche Parish jail June 1 and released that day after posting an $80,000 bond.

The same grand jury indicted Robert Barker Jr., of Lockport, on charges of filing false public records and two counts of forgery. He was booked into the parish jail June 1 and released after posting a $30,000 bond.

According to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, an audit in December uncovered a potential issue with the Police Department’s October 2015 purchase of an SUV. Vedros provided the auditor with council meeting minutes he’d allegedly altered, as well as documents Barker had allegedly forged.

The Sheriff’s Office said Vedros also reported several hundred dollars less than he received from a vendor for the Krewe of Apollo parade. In addition, he could not account for several thousand dollars missing from Lafourche Recreation District No. 1, which he directed.

Vedros was elected to a fourth straight term in November.

He was sworn in last year as first vice president of the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police and was expected to take over as president at the annual conference, set for next month in Houma.

Fabian Blache Jr., executive director of the association, said Thibodaux Police Chief Bryan Zeringue, Houma Police Chief Dana Coleman and Golden Meadow Police Chief Reggie Pitre will now co-host the conference. An election will be held for president and other board positions.

“I was shocked and taken aback because I had never considered anything like that from him,” Blache said. “I always looked at him as a model police officer and police chief and someone who should be respected in the community. For something like this to happen, it blew me away.”

Blache said Vedros’ charges and resignation are embarrassing to the association, but he stressed that the former chief is innocent until proven guilty.

Former Lockport Police Chief Ernest Boudreaux, who ran against Vedros last year, said he’s planning on seeking the office again.

Boudreaux said whoever is the next police chief will have to work to regain the public’s trust.

“He did the right thing for the betterment of the people in the town,” Boudreaux said. “Warren and I worked together for a long time and were friends for a long time. We’re still friends, as far as I’m concerned. ... I hate to see something like that happen in the town. It’s a big black eye on the Police Department.”

Calls to Vedros’ cellphone went directly to voicemail, and text messages did not go through.

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Bridget Mire can be reached at 448-7639 or Follow her on Twitter @bridget_mire.