La. Mayor Accused of Meddling in DUI Incident

AMITE, La. --

The mayor of the small Tangipahoa Parish town of Amite was caught on audio tape threatening and intimidating police officers investigating a suspected case of drunken driving.

In December, several police officers responded to a single-car accident on Highway 16, not far from downtown.

Amite Police Sgt. Lendrick Francois was among those at the scene. In a letter written last week -- and obtained by the I-Team -- Francois said the driver appeared to be intoxicated so the officers began to administer a field sobriety test.

That's when things got interesting.

"One of the persons that was in the accident called the mayor," said Amite Police Chief Jerry Trabona.

And according to Francois' letter, the mayor, Reggie Goldsby, called the officers at the scene.

In his letter, which was sent to several city council members, Francois claims, "Mayor Reggie Goldsby called and was very unprofessional. He began to threaten and intimidate us while we were performing our duties."

Francois' letter goes on to say the mayor used profanity and degraded the officers.

"He shouldn't have said what he said to those officers, he shouldn't have used the language he used," said Trabona.

The officers refused to speak with the mayor, a move consistent with department policy.

"I don't allow my people to talk on the phone if they are working something like that," said Trabona.

So Trabona said the mayor then called the dispatcher directly at police headquarters.

Uncut: Amite Mayor's Call To Police Dispatchers

"Yeah, who you got on duty?," said Goldsby in a recorded conversation.

"Max and Francois," said the dispatcher.

Goldsby: "Are they working an accident on 16?"

Dispatcher: "Uh huh."

Goldsby: "Okay, you tell one of those SOBs that they will talk to me or your budget will be so cut, it's pitiful, cause I don't like that. I don't appreciate them not conversing with me. This is Mayor Goldsby, in case you don't know."

"I think he said something he shouldn't have and he realizes that," Trabona said. "He can't say he's going to cut my budget for my man doing his job."

And the conversation with the dispatcher didn't end there.

Goldsby: "Tell them, I don't care how you pronounce it, but you tell them if they would like their salaries to keep going ... what I'm trying to say is I do not appreciate that. OK, call me. Bye."

"I think what he got mad about was the guys wouldn't talk to him on the phone," said Trabona.

Goldsby has been the mayor in Amite for 29 years. He's a practicing physician in the town.

He wouldn't talk to WDSU on camera but I-Team reporter Travers Mackel did speak with him at his office. Goldsby said he was not trying to intimidate the officers or get anyone off the legal hook.

But the head of the area's largest watchdog agency, the New Orleans-based Metropolitan Crime Commission, said the mayor's actions were out of line.

"It is totally inappropriate for anyone to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation, particularly a public official attempting to threaten and intimidate an officer from performing his official duties," said Rafael Goyeneche, the commission's executive director.

Goyeneche said the officers should be commended for standing their ground. The driver of the car was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

"It shows the officers were well-trained and weren't going to be deterred," said Goyeneche.

Trabona said the mayor called him and apologized the day after the incident.

"Good guy, just sometimes he shouldn't say the things he says," Trabona said.

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