LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -The State Fire Marshal’s office has arrested one of its own and he’s from Lake Charles area. James Clay Barrett was a corporal but resigned after his arrest. Officials are not saying a lot about what Barrett allegedly did, but it had to do with his investigative reports on fires.
Barrett was booked into the East Baton Rouge jail on three counts of malfeasance in office and eight counts of first degree injuring public records.
Officials say a routine review of Barrett’s cases revealed inconsistences and that they later learned he allegedly tried to cover up incomplete or incorrect investigative work in two cases.
Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier won't discuss the facts of the case but explains injuring a public record goes beyond making a mistake.
"The report that he filed, that he partially prepared in Calcasieu parish and filed in Calcasieu Parish, and then again with the state fire marshal's office in Baton Rouge, is in fact a public record. So, when that report is not entirely accurate and the preparer of that report knows that it is not entirely accurate, that is in fact injuring a public record," said Browning.
DeRosier says Barrett allegedly supplemented a report in a way that was neither accurate or acceptable.
"A law enforcement officer cannot file a report that he knows is not entirely accurate," he said.
As a result of the findings, Barrett’s other cases are being investigated for any similar inconsistencies.
State Fire Marshal Butch Browning issued a statement:
"To be a State Fire Marshal Deputy is more than just a job; it's a commitment to public safety and abating arson with integrity and pride," said Browning.
"These allegations against Clay Barrett are disgraceful. They should not diminish the upstanding reputation of the dozens of deputies who represent this agency day in and day out with good, honorable work for the people of Louisiana," he said.
"They also should not discredit the quality of the hundreds of fire investigations the agency conducts throughout each year. We will not tolerate anything less than the utmost professionalism from our agency and its employees," said Browning.
At last word, Barrett was still in jail.