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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Louisiana state troopers demoted for Las Vegas road trip

Louisiana state troopers demoted for Las Vegas road trip

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Two Louisiana state troopers are being demoted for a pricey road trip they took to a law enforcement conference in San Diego in which they improperly billed thousands of dollars for overtime and expenses, including a side trip to Las Vegas, the state police announced Monday.

The agency released the demotion letters after wrapping up its internal investigation into the 2016 trip, which found the officers charged the state for hours they spent sleeping, sightseeing and playing golf.

The demotions take effect immediately and come with hefty pay cuts for the men.

Capt. Derrell Williams, who already had been reassigned from a higher rank, was dropped another rung to lieutenant, and Lt. Rodney Hyatt was demoted to sergeant. Williams' salary will fall more than $15,000 to $109,100 a year, and Hyatt's pay will drop by nearly $9,500 to $90,300 annually, according to the demotion letters.

The disciplinary letters describe the troopers driving to the October 2016 conference in San Diego with a state-owned SUV in an indirect route, diverting to a Las Vegas casino resort, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. The letters say the officers overbilled for their travel expenses and working hours.

For example, the letter to Hyatt says the trooper initially claimed to have worked "88 straight hours" at one point including 56 hours of overtime, and then another 56 hours straight that included 30 hours of overtime.

Both men, according to the demotion letters, charged for higher-level meals than were allowed in the places they stayed and received reimbursement for hotel costs that exceeded the permissible rates.

Two other, lower-level troopers also were disciplined though not demoted.

The state police's former superintendent, Mike Edmonson, retired in March after coming under increasing criticism for his leadership of the agency and, particularly, for accusations of lax spending practices — including the San Diego trip.


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