BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Former Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson testified before the Louisiana State Police Commission in Baton Rouge Friday.
Three state troopers claim Edmonson authorized an expensive trip, that took the troopers on sight-seeing detours through places like Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, to a law enforcement conference in California.
Edmonson testified that he did not order four troopers to take a Las Vegas route to San Diego for the police conference, but says they did discuss it. He testified that he thought the troopers driving was more cost effective.
He also said that the troopers were demoted after the Vegas trip and were 'competent' individuals who had the option to go wherever they wanted. They paid back overtime and hotel charges for the trip as Edmonson launched an investigation.
Edmonson told FOX 8's Lee Zurik he did not approve the vacation-like stops at a casino and other tourist destinations. The trip was paid for by taxpayers.
But a report from the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections said that Edmonson was aware of the side trip. And smartphone texts and photos, sent from the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam to Edmonson by the wife of one of those troopers, appear to support that claim.
During his testimony, he said he did see a picture of the troopers at the Grand Canyon, but had no problem with it.
One of the texts from the troopers to Edmonson reads, "It's been fun." Later in the exchange, Edmonson texted, "Y'all better get to San Diego."
Edmonson says troopers paid back the overtime and hotel charges for Vegas and the Grand Canyon trips as he launched the investigation.
Trooper Rodney Hyatt and Derrell Williams received reductions in pay. Troopers Thurman Miller was reprimanded and Alexandr Nezgoinsky was ordered to go to counseling.
Edmonson retired in 2017 and has been under federal investigation ever since the scandal became public.
He was expected to testify earlier this week, but was out of the country. Edmonson's testimony wrapped up on around noon. The commission is expected to hear more testimony into next week.