NOPD officer denies admitting to affair with Mayor LaToya Cantrell, attorney says
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Police Department Officer Jeffrey Vappie says he never admitted to his wife that he had an affair with Mayor LaToya Cantrell, according to his attorney.
In an amended divorce filing this month, Vappie’s wife claims he admitted to having an adulterous affair with “Mrs. L.C.,” whom sources have identified to Fox 8 as Mayor Cantrell.
One of Vappie’s lawyers, Branden Villavaso, would not deny if an affair occurred, only that his client did not admit to his wife that he had an affair with anyone.
Mayor Cantrell denied the relationship herself in a text message sent to a Times-Picayune reporter the day after our report on the divorce filing aired, saying the allegations were false and sexist “bullshit.”
“By the time I complete my tenure as mayor, I would have slept with half of the city of New Orleans based on false accusations that come my way sometimes daily. This is only one of them,” Cantrell wrote. “If I were a MAN, you would NOT be texting me about this bullshit.”
In the filing, Vappie’s wife claims her husband has been in an ongoing sexual relationship with “Mrs. L.C.” since May 2021 - the same month Vappie joined Cantrell’s executive protection team. It also cites specific dates in August and September 2022 when the alleged affair took place.
That includes Aug. 2, 2022. Fox 8 previously reported that on that day, a public security camera in front of the city-owned Upper Pontalba Apartment showed Vappie spent 5 hours and 40 minutes of his workday inside the apartment with the mayor.
The allegation could lead to legal and ethical violations for both Vappie and Cantrell.
The next step will likely be determining if there’s evidence to prove it.
“All we have are allegations,” Dillard University Public Policy Professor Dr. Robert Collins says. “So these allegations will need to be substantiated with evidence. I think there will be an investigation and then we will see if there is any evidence to support the allegations.”
“If a police officer were to have an inappropriate relationship with a supervisor, that would be a violation of NOPD policy and there could be a sanction for that.”
Collins says it’s clear that Cantrell was Vappie’s supervisor.
“In this situation, since the mayor requests these officers... since the mayor basically sets their hours,” Collins explained. “The mayor would be in a supervisory role.”
The NOPD has policies related to nepotism and employment conflicts.
Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission says the potential violations for Vappie could be severe.
“Involvement in a romantic relationship with one of his assigned duties, professionalism, performance of duty, adherence to law, honest and truthfulness,” Goyeneche says. “Potentially payroll fraud if he was on city time padding his payroll. If he was malfeasant in office, he wasn’t performing his official assigned duties while he was with the mayor.”
Goyeneche says that could mean potential criminal violations on state and possibly federal levels.
Collins says the city policy, while it isn’t as clear as the NOPD policy, states “an employee shall not conduct any personal business which causes neglect or inattention to work duties.”
“It does not explicitly say supervisor-subordinate relationships,” Collins says. “Those words are not used.”
Collins says the policy could be interpreted to mean there shouldn’t be inappropriate relationships while on the job.
While the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau would investigate whether NOPD policy was violated, it will have no jurisdiction over the mayor.
“The only way the mayor could be sanctioned is either the city council would have to impose some sort of financial sanctions, however, the district attorney could investigate if there was some sort of payroll fraud involved,” Collins says.
Cantrell has refused to respond to our requests for comment.
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