Plaquemines Sheriff to resign, face fed. charges

Plaquemines Sheriff to resign, face fed. charges
Louisiana Politics
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 10:29am

Plaquemines Parish Sheriff I.F. "Jiff" Hingle will resign and face federal charges stemming from an investigation into business dealings in his office, the WDSU I-Team has learned.

Sources close to the matter told WDSU that Hingle would submit a formal resignation letter to the Louisiana Secretary of State this afternoon. Charges, they said, would be announced shortly thereafter by the office of U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

The relationship between Hingle and businessman Aaron Bennett has been under scrutiny following reports that detailed expenses, reimbursements and gifts involving the two men.

In May, the WDSU I-Team reported that Hingle had sought tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements for expenses put on his personal credit card -- an unusual practice, but one that was not necessarily a violation of law. Hingle said at the time he would ask the Louisiana Attorney General to examine how the reimbursements were made.

Additional reports by print and broadcast outlets focused on a 2007 contract between the sheriff's office and Benetech, a local firm owned by Aaron Bennett. Those reports outlined meals, travel and gifts -- paid for by Bennett or his company.

Hingle announced this summer that he would not seek re-election to the post he has held for 20 years. In a statement released in August, Hingle said it was "with a heavy heart" that he reached the decision not to run, and said he "acted in good faith and in the best interest of the sheriff's office."

WDSU sources indicated that Hingle would not be indicted, but would instead be charged through a bill of information -- something that usually indicates the subject of an investigation is cooperating in the probe.

An attorney for Hingle said the sheriff was not prepared to issue a statement Wednesday morning.

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