OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) – Tracy Duplechain, a former kennel attendant at the animal shelter, attended the parish council meeting Wednesday evening only to be arrested by Animal Control investigators.
St. Landry Parish President Jessie Bellard said that “the warrant was issued last week for Tracy Duplechain and Terri Courville regarding an investigation that took place at Animal Control over the past three months. The arrest was done last night because we knew where he was going to be basically, and it was simple to catch them there and walk up across the street, and you’re done with.”
Duplechain’s warrant was for interference with animal management facilities and malfeasance in the office. Authorities are looking for Courville as she is wanted for interference with animal management facilitates.
“They’ll find her. I mean, she’s not going to be far. She is not trying to elude arrest or nothing they just didn’t go looking for her yet today, and the same process follows for her,” he said.
He said the two employees were terminated before the investigation started. He added that the employees at the time reported to him about incidents involving Duplechain and Courville.
“On this day, they were doing this, and on that date, they were doing that, so whenever they come to us and tell us that we start back reviewing the tapes and low and behold a whole lot of stuff was taking place,” said Bellard. “I tell my staff all the time. Don’t tell me something that I’m not supposed to know or if I’m supposed to know; just expect it to get further because I’m not going to let it sit on my desk; this is one of those instances.”
He said that he wants to ensure people know that if there’s an issue at one of the parish facilities, do not be discouraged from coming forward.
“We want to know about it. We want to be able to fix it. So we have made a lot of changes since then for this not to happen again,” he said.
Bellard said in regards to the meeting, councilmembers requested for the investigation into the procedure used to fire some 21 employees last year. He explained since the election is coming and he is running for re-election, “You have two councilmen on there who would love to be in this, so it’s a big political gain.”
It was decided to hire an independent human resource person to come in and do an investigation. Bellard also said the council members were not specific.
“In the charter, they say that if the council wishes to do an investigation or to have somebody do that investigation, it has to be specific. None of this stuff is specific. So, therefore, I’m going to file an injunction in the courts tomorrow,” he told News 10.
Bellard said in regard to HR issues, he cannot release personal information. He can give the name, the position that the person held, and their salary.
He shared a perspective, “let’s just say that person was not terminated, according to what they call policy or anything else. There’s nothing they can do about it.”
He added, if a person is terminated, they’re terminated.
“Over here in parish government, if somebody gets terminated on the first time, they did some crazy. They did something wrong because over here if you’re not walking out of a certain department, I’ll move them to another department and see. I did that several times, and some of them make it; some of them don’t, but I give them the opportunity to work somewhere else, and maybe that might be their thing.”
“I’m not about firing people because I think everybody gets a chance to do what they have to do. The ones who get terminated, they get terminated because they fired themselves, period,” he added.
“Nobody is safe in government. You do wrong, and I’ll find out about it. I am obligated under law to report this, and whatever happens, after that point is going to be what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s an election year or not. I’m not afraid to go out there and say what has to be said. I’m not afraid to go do my job, and I’m going to do it every single day, and the sooner the council realizes that it doesn’t matter who it affects, if I got to do something, I’m going to do it.”
News 10 tried to contact Duplechain and learned he was with Courville, who informed us he would not add comments. If charged for interference with animal management facilities, one can be fined no more than $5000 and/or imprisoned with or without hard labor or both.
For malfeasance in the office, it carries up to five years in prison with or without labor and a fine of $5000 or both. Both are felony charges.