New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is raising more questions about her time spent inside a posh, city-owned apartment after a new report shows that a member of her security detail was frequently inside the dwelling at the expense of taxpayers.
New Orleans Police Officer Jeffrey Vappie, who worked security for Cantrell, was spotted 47 times at the apartment in the French Market Corporation’s Upper Pontalba Building in Jackson Square over 27 days, FOX8 New Orleans reported.
The station reviewed video footage from 45 days, finding that Vappie spent more than 112 hours inside the apartment.
On Aug. 2, Vappie spent 40 minutes of his workday inside the apartment, a day during which Cantrell didn’t make a single work call and only sent a pair of two-sentence emails, according to the report.
Officials have already been asking questions over how Cantrell spends her time inside the two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, which has a fair market value of nearly $3,000 a month, following FOX8’s previous reporting. Cantrell allegedly didn’t pay rent.
“But when you are staying in a taxpayer-owned building, and you have employees that are paid by the taxpayers, the taxpayers have a right to know what you are doing in that property,” Dillard University Political Analyst Robert Collins told the station. “And the taxpayers have a right to know what duties you’re performing during those hours.”
Now questions are being raised over whether Vappie was paid while seen at the apartment while he was supposed to be on duty elsewhere.
The report said that NOPD timesheets showed Vappie was paid for 12 hours on Aug. 9 and that he was seen on video footage entering the apartment building despite not being assigned to Cantrell’s security that day. A similar occurrence happened on Sept. 9, according to the report.
Vappie has been reassigned from Cantrell’s security team pending the results of the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau investigation into his possible payroll violations.
Cantrell has been at the center of controversy in New Orleans after it was discovered she spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on first-class flight upgrades over the summer. Last month, Cantrell agreed to pay the city back nearly $30,000 that she spent on luxury flights.