Gretna police chief mum on deputy chief’s vacation-time allegations

The Gretna City Council went into executive session Wednesday night to discuss a report that Deputy Police Chief Anthony Christiana has been doing private security work while on the clock for the city.

After coming out of executive session just after 8 p.m., however, City Attorney Mark Morgan told members of the council and administration not to discuss the personnel matter on the agenda with the press because it could hamper the department’s own investigation, and Lawson said after the meeting that he wasn’t allowed to discuss the issue.

The local Fox affiliate WVUE-TV reported last week that Christiana, who has accumulated 201 unused vacation days, has in recent years taken multiple trips without taking days off.

The station reported that Christiana traveled on 26 work days in 2013 but only used 6.75 vacation days, including one trip to provide personal security for Paul McCartney while the former Beatle was on tour in Brazil.

The station reported that in 2013 alone, taxpayers paid $6,694.38 in salary to Christiana while he was travelling.

The following year, Christiana, who owns a security company called Christiana & Associates, went twice to Brazil to provide security for McCartney and didn’t take any days off despite missing about a week of work each time.

Gretna Police Department payroll records, which were provided to Fox 8 by an anonymous source, showed Christiana didn’t take any vacation or sick days off in 2015.

Fox 8 reported the 201 unused vacation days Christiana has so far accrued are worth $34,766 if he cashes them in before retirement. He can also use them before he retires, allowing him to get paid his full salary without working during his final months with the department.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Crime Commission called for an independent investigation of the issue. Lawson issued a statement that he is appointing an “independent investigative team” to collect information and turn it over to the city, though he did not provide any additional details.

Lawson, who accompanied Christiana on some of the trips, said he had assumed Christiana had properly accounted for his vacation and that it’s possible he took time off in a later pay period.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.

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