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St. Landry

Former Mayor of Opelousas Avoids Jail Time

The former mayor of Opelousas is avoiding jail time and will instead serve two years probation after being found guilty of malfeasance in office, theft, forgery and filing false records back in September.

Reginal Tatum was convicted for falsifying time sheets and paying himself nearly 13 thousand dollars in unauthorized overtime fees during the August 2016 flood.​
“I will respect the judge’s decision and move forward from there.” said Tatum after the sentencing.​
Although relieved that he wont have to serve jail time, Tatum still doesn’t believe he committed a crime.​
“I thought I was doing a good job and like I said, maybe mistakes were made. Again, just following what I was told by people that I thought that knew better.” said Tatum.​
The prosecution pushed for a harsher sentencing, saying that Tatum took advantage of his office to pay himself extra money when he worked at the shelter he set up.​
“I leave it solely within the purview. I mean that’s inherit with what a judge does is to meet out what’s fair and just in the judge’s opinion. That’s why he is elected so we certainly respect that.” said Alyssa Gothreaux, Assistant District Attorney for St. Landry Parish.​
Judge James Doherty didn’t feel jail time for Tatum was necessary because he has mostly been a law abiding citizen and the crime was an isolated event.​
He explained that he received dozens of letters that spoke of Tatum’s upstanding character and his commitment to volunteerism, however in 2016, Tatum stepped away from that.​
“Sometimes good people do bad things.” said Judge Doherty.​
Judge Doherty felt the damage has already been done to Tatum’s reputation.​
“I think the sentence was fair based on Mr. Tatum’s history being as the judge pointed out volunteering in the community, his service to the community. We think the sentence was fair although we don’t agree with the verdict.” said Harry Daniels III, Defense Attorney for Reginald Tatum.​
Judge Doherty added that Tatum is no longer in the position to commit that type of crime since he was voted out of office last year.​
“You know it’s been a hardship as it is, throughout the whole process. Prison would actually be a hardship on my family because I take care of my mom, my fiance and everyone and I also take care a lot of the members of the community. They come to me for food and help with their rent and I’ll continue to do that.” said Tatum.​
Tatum’s attorney told us after the sentencing that former mayor is still looking at appealing the conviction. ​

Since Tatum is now a convicted felon, he is ineligible to run for public office until five years after he completes his sentence.

 

Previous story

Former Mayor of Opelousas, Reggie Tatum, avoids jail time and will only receive two years probation. In September Tatum was found guilty on the following charges:

 

  • One count of malfeasance in office
  • Four counts of forgery
  • Four counts of filing false records
  • One count of theft

Today Tatum was sentenced to two years probation.

News15’s Phillip Boudreaux will have the full report later this evening.