Louisiana Ethics Board dismisses charges against TJ Bell

Louisiana Ethics Board dismisses charges against TJ Bell

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Ethics charges against T.J. Bell, a former deputy chief at the Lake Charles Police Department, have been dropped by the Louisiana Board of Ethics.

It’s been nearly four years since the case against T.J. Bell first made headlines.

Bell was fired in 2015 after allegations that he allowed an employee, Jeanine Blaney, to be paid for work she did not do.

State district court Judge Sharon Wilson overturned the decision and reinstated Bell. But the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed that decision and upheld his firing.

The state Supreme Court in 2017 affirmed the 3rd Circuit’s ruling.

Bell’s indictments were for malfeasance in office.

This week, a Louisiana Ethics Board decided to dismiss charges against the former officer in a case that his lawyers say resulted in his unjust termination.

“A lot of people just assume that just because the criminal charges got dismissed that everything was fine and dandy, that he returned to work. That’s not the reality of it," said Attorney, Todd Clemons.

Criminal charges against Bell were dropped in 2018, but that still left an ethics violation charge on his record.

“Criminal charges were dropped some time ago, it’s the ethics charges that were just recently dismissed," said co-counsel, Adam Johnson. "We feel like this was a smear campaign from the beginning and now we just continue to hold those accountable that had an interest in his (Bell’s) demise.”

In the long run, Clemons and Johnson both said they’re happy what this latest news will mean for their client going forward in the case.

Johnson and Clemons said Bell is still pursuing civil litigation in connection with the previous charges and the loss of his job and that the civil matters could involve not only the City of Lake Charles but employees there as well. That suit is currently in the discovery phase.

“For Thomas Bell, we want exoneration and we feel like this ethics charge being dismissed is another step towards exoneration,” said Clemons.

No word yet on what this latest move means for Bell’s future with the police department. Attorney’s say that decision would be left up to the city.

In regards to the dismissal, 7News reached out to attorney’s for the City of Lake Charles, they said they were unavailable for comment at this time.

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