'40 years is enough' : Allain to retire as sheriff; endorses young captain

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

Iberville Sheriff Brent Allain announced Tuesday he would not seek a fourth term this fall and is backing Capt. Aubrey St. Angelo Jr. to be his successor.

If elected, the 32-year-old St. Angelo would be the youngest in the Iberville office since the late Jessel M. Ourso Sr., the state's youngest sheriff at 31. He currently serves as commander of the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) Task Force.

Also endorsing St. Angelo was Allain's Chief Criminal Deputy Stephen Engolio, thought to be the next in line for the job, who said he would stay in his current job.                           

Allain, accompanied by his wife Stacey and their family, met with his staff Tuesday morning, just before meeting with the press. He said it was not an overnight decision to end his 40-year career in law enforcement, but 40 years was enough. 

“My focus right now is on my family,” the sheriff said. “...It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the parish in the capacity I have.”

The sheriff's race will be on the ballot with other parishwide offices this fall, but Allain will continue to serve until a new sheriff takes office in July 2012.

Inspired by his brother, George Allain, a police officer who was later murdered, Allain joined the sheriff's office in 1972 under  Ourso, served for 22 years under the late Sheriff Freddie Pitre Sr., rising through the ranks from dispatcher to chief criminal deputy under Pitre.

With Pitre's endorsement, Allain ran for the top office. He was unopposed for his first two terms as sheriff, and won the third with 92 percent of the vote.

Allain said St. Angelo had shown the leadership, character, understanding and ability to take over the elective office.

St. Angelo joined the Sheriff's Office as a patrolman at age 18 and  worked in Allain's Criminal Patrol, an interstate drug interdiction unit, before his promotion to captain and head of LEAD. Because of St. Angelo's ability, the Louisiana State Police had tried to recruit him.

“It says a lot abut him that he wants to stay in Iberville Parish and do the work here,” the sheriff said.

St. Angelo was scheduled to attend a special FBI school in April, but has had to cancel “to hit the ground running,” Allain said.

Engolio said he fully supports St. Angelo, with whom he has served as supervisor and peer. He said he thought his working relationship with St. Angelo “would only get better” if the younger officer were elected sheriff.

“I've been impressed with him from day one,” Engolio said.

As for his own ambitions, Engolio said “I'm not going to say I'm not interested, but at this time in my life, it's not a good time...Family with me has to come first.”

Allain said he was proud of what he has been able to accomplish in the office, lifting it financially and never running a deficit. He said would leave his successor with up-to-date computer systems, great equipment and a great staff.

“I believe in helping people,” he said. “We've demonstrated loyalty in this office. We've demonstrated integrity in this office. We've been a class act in this office.”