La. wildlife and fisheries head resigns as feds probe possible bribes

The leader of LDWF has resigned from office in scandal, a senior department official confirms to the WAFB I-TEAM.
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 11:24 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2023 at 6:10 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The leader of Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has resigned from office in scandal, a senior department official confirms to the WAFB I-TEAM.

Secretary Jack Montoucet was embroiled in a former employee’s federal bribery case, when that employee admitted several public officials personally benefitted from kickback schemes. The employee, identified in court documents as Dusty Guidry, provided the information as part of a plea deal that allows him to escape harsher punishment for participating in the schemes.

Court documents say Guidry and a senior official at LDWF essentially were paid off to contract with a vendor to provide hunting and boating education services.

A day after news broke that Montoucet was the one who signed those contracts, he abruptly resigned from the agency, Friday, April 14.

Montoucet’s resignation becomes effective at the close of business Friday, April 14 and Governor John Bel Edwards has already named Deputy Secretary Robert Shadoin as the permanent replacement and new head of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Governor John Bel Edwards chose Montoucet to serve as Secretary in January of 2017.

Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement:

Montoucet previously served in the Louisiana House of Representatives representing the Crowley area before accepting the appointment. Before that he worked as an alligator farmer, going on to serve as president of the Louisiana Alligator Association. He is also the former chief of the Lafayette Fire Department.

There was no indication Friday that Montoucet had been formally accused or charged with any crime. Late Friday afternoon he sent a letter to the public touting his decades of public service. The letter did not address the allegations made against him. Read below:

“This afternoon, I am announcing my retirement as Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for the State of Louisiana.

It has been my greatest honor to serve the people of our state since being appointed in 2017. We are the Sportsman’s Paradise and I have protected this precious resource, while opening it up to fisherman and hunters throughout the world . This is a job I honorably performed, resulting in increased revenue for the department and decreased costs for our taxpayers. Under my leadership, we have created programs to allow greater access to the department for people who needed our services or to make restitution for violating our regulations and requirements.

I have served this country as a Marine and served this state as Chief of the Lafayette Fire Department, a State Representative for District 42 and as Secretary of LDWF. I retire from public service today to return to the private sector, where I will continue to be a champion of Louisiana’s waterways, coastal waters and hunting lands. I also intend to spend time working with young entrepreneurs, who want to bring their innovations to life to benefit our state and as a fluent French speaker, I will continue to advocate for the French language education for our children.

I look forward to spending the days ahead with my family, especially my grandchildren, and thank everyone who I have worked with these past six and half years as Secretary.”

The court documents also say another court official from the 15th Judicial Court participated in a similar scheme with Guidry.

Prosecutors say four vendors provided cash and other tangibles to Guidry and other public officials, and in return the officials would use those vendors to resolve criminal cases in the 15th Judicial Court’s pre-trial diversion courses. In some cases the cash was funneled through third-party companies to conceal the payments.

Officials also loosened admission standards for the pre-trial programs, allowing more people to participate, the court documents explain.

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