VILLE PLATTE, La. (KLFY) — Ville Platte Police Chief Neal Lartigue has been barred from running for re-election on the Nov. 8 ballot after the La. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal ruled he lives outside the city limits.
The ruling, if upheld under further appeal, would install Al Perry Thomas as Ville Platte’s next police chief unopposed. Thomas was the one who brought the original suit against Lartigue. Thomas filed the original challenge on July 22 in the 13th Judicial District Court. The court originally ruled in favor of Lartigue.
You can read the 3rd Circuit’s opinion in its entirety at the bottom of this post.
In qualifying documents as seen on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website, both Thomas and Lartigue have a P.O. Box listed. Lartigue, however, has claimed his primary address as 801 N. Chataigner St. in Ville Platte. In actuality, the 3rd Circuit court ruled he is actually living at 1600 L’Anse De Cavalier Rd. — which is eight miles outside of city limits. Lartigue has been living there for at least a year, according to court documents, which would disqualify him for the election.
Thomas testified that he lives three blocks from the Chataignier St. address and has rental property within four blocks of it. Thomas said the house appeared unliveable with numerous broken windows and no signs that anyone has lived there in some time.
A legal secretary also testified that Lartigue has never owned the Chataigner St. property, and that the home was adjudicated to the police jury in a tax sale in Sept. 2020. The secretary also testified that property records show Lartigue has never owned property in the city limits of Ville Platte.
Ville Platte City Clerk Hilda Edwards also testified that while water was hooked up to the Chataigner St. home, there was actually no consumption of water at the address for the entire year preceding the qualification period for the police chief election.
“Photographs introduced into evidence depicting the current condition of the house at the Chataignier address are very telling,” stated the 3rd Circuit’s opinion. “Consistent with the testimony of Defendant’s ex-wife and other witnesses, the residence is in a dilapidated and unsanitary condition, with roaches running out of the inoperable refrigerator, rodent droppings throughout the residence, including on the bedsheets, multiple broken windows, and the house was in a general state of serious disrepair. The trial judge candidly acknowledged that he would not live in the house.”
Lartigue’s ex-wife testified that she and Lartigue had bought the L’Anse De Cavalier address in 2000. A complex arrangement due to their divorce proceedings gave her and Lartigue joint residence at the L’Anse De Cavalier address. The couple was allowed to switch residency in the home every 60 days or so with both being allowed to use the Chataignier St. address in the interim. Lartigue’s ex-wife testified that she found the Chataignier address unliveable.
“…[Y]ou can’t even walk into the kitchen cause there are boxes and all kinds of empty whiskey and wine bottles and the stove is filthy and the living room is covered with a film of dust, the ceiling has a crack in it, the bedroom, the bed had rat feces in it,” she stated. “I didn’t even go in the bathroom cause it was just horrible.”
The house was so dilapidated that Evangeline Parish Chief Deputy Tax Assessor Josh Fontenot testified that the parish dropped the assessed value of the home from $12,000 to $1,000 because of its condition.
While Lartigue brought in a pair of witnesses who claimed to have seen him at the Chataigner St. residence, the 3rd Circuit’s opinion stated Lartigue “offered scant evidence to rebut the compelling evidence offered by [Thomas]. His two witnesses provided little, if any, support for his assertions, and his own testimony is at best, equivocal.”