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Former Sterlington mayor indicted on charge of malfeasance in office

STERLINGTON, La. (KNOE) – An arrest warrant was issued for the former mayor of Sterlington. Vern Breland was indicted by a grand jury on August 7, 2020. He faces one count of malfeasance in office.

An indictment filed on August 7, 2020, in the Fourth Judicial District Court charges that Breland committed the crime between the dates of January 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018.

This comes as the town continues to pull itself out of a financial crisis left behind by the former mayor.

“If he’s at fault or done anything illegal to put the town in a bind that it’s in, then I think this is the logical next step,” said Sterlington Alderman Zack Howse.

Howse expressed his thoughts just moments after he learned Breland was indicted by a grand jury.

Breland oversaw the town’s operations when Sterlington sank below more than $20 million dollars in debt and was the target of audits indicating he may have violated federal and state laws.

In 2019, KNOE’s investigation detailed how the city fell into a financial crisis.

The legal fight for water rights against greater the Ouachita Water Company, and the state-of-the-art sports complex put the city in the red.

KNOE also poured over hundreds of credit card receipts. We found town leaders, led by Breland, ate at local restaurants on the town’s dime 92 times, spending more than $5,800 on these meals.

To pay back the town’s debt, the town was assigned a state fiscal administrator, and also raised taxes, and increased sewer rates.

Howse says it’s unfair the citizens have had to suffer because of someone else’s wrongdoing.

“Most people ask who’s going to pay for this or who’s going to be held accountable for putting this town in a bind. That’s the first thing they say. I’m okay if we have to pay higher sewer rates but the reason why we’re paying that, somebody has to be held accountable for that,” Howse said.

KNOE reached out to the town attorney for comment. Attorney Devin Jones says Sterlington has no statement at this time because this is a pending criminal matter.

Copyright 2020 KNOE. All rights reserved.

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