FEBRUARY 24, 2009
The mayor and police chief in a tiny Louisiana cotton town have been arrested and charged with dozens of felony corruption charges for running a large scale theft operation involving public funds.
Waterproof Mayor Bobby Higginbotham was charged with 44 counts and Police Chief Miles Jenkins was slapped with three counts of malfeasance in office. The mayor’s charges include 18 counts of malfeasance in office, 21 counts of felony theft and four counts of public salary deduction.
The men ran the poverty-stricken delta town of about 800 residents like a pair of outlaws. The mayor illegally increased his salary by tens of thousands of dollars without approval of the town’s aldermen, financed personal trips with town funds and forced public employees to purchase goods from businesses he or immediate family members had a significant stake in.
The mayor also improperly handled traffic tickets by failing to conduct a state-mandated town court and he used public funds to give police officers illegal bonuses for exceeding ticket quotas. The police chief regularly violated state law by reducing citations and accepted illegal bonuses, according to the grand jury indictment.
Located on the Mississippi River in the Tensas Parish, Waterproof is barely one square mile. The town earned national media attention in 2007 when it received nearly $40,000 in federal rural development funds to purchase two fully equipped police cars with state-of-the-art speed detection equipment.
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