Sheriff Brett Stassi: Committed public servant for over 30 years

PAM BOESCH Correspondent
Brett Stassi 
PHOTO/Pam Boesch

Since Brett Stassi was a young boy, he dreamed of working in law enforcement.

That dream has taken him on a 30-year journey from detective to investigator to Sheriff of Iberville Parish since he won the election in 2011.

As a youth, he watched his father, Ralph Stassi, consistently work in public service. 

“My Dad was in law enforcement and he was a very influential person in my life,” says Stassi. “Dad had a strong work ethic, always hard working and he was committed to so many different projects. It made me realize I could do the same.” 

That journey began after he graduated from St. John School and pursued a degree in criminal justice at Nicholls State University.  It was during that time that he started dating, became engaged and married, Caroline Engolio Stassi. They have been married for almost 30 years and have three children, Brett Jr., Annemarie and Annette. They also have two grandchildren, Evie and Christopher, with another due this summer. 

Stassi also credits his mother, Patricia, for his success. 

“My mom devoted her life to providing me and my brother and sister with a stable home,” Stassi said. “She was an anchor, always making sure I did well in school and was at practice on time. She provided me with the tools I needed to succeed in life.”

His career began as a detective with the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office in 1981. 

“My brother-in-law, Ed Engolio, Jr., took me under his wing,” Stassi said. “He was very dedicated to his job and he taught me everything I know about investigating and handling people.”  Engolio was the Assistant Chief of Detectives and later the director of misdemeanor probation until his death of esophageal cancer in 1998. 

“Ed’s life, the way he handled his sickness and his death made a huge impact on me,” Stassi said. “I really lost my best friend and mentor. Ed handled it all with such dignity and I keep that with me every day.”

Ed’s death taught Stassi “how fragile life is” and he tries to cherish his time with family and friends even more.

Another role model was his father-in-law, Judge Edward Engolio, who died last year. 

“The judge had such a deep faith,” Stassi said. “He was so strong and family oriented. Even after the death of two of his children, he never lost his faith…actually I think his faith was stronger.”

Brett’s career took a turn in 1991 when he decided to support Ricky Ward in the District Attorney’s race. After Ward’s win, he was laid off from the Sheriff’s office but that didn’t stop his ambition or desire to serve. Stassi accepted a position with the DA’s office as a secretary, then investigator and eventually became office manager where he served for almost 21 years. 

Becoming sheriff was “bigger than my dreams” says Stassi. When he heard Sheriff Brent Allain was retiring, it seemed like an opportunity. After a soul-searching discussion with his Dad and Parish President Mitchell Ourso, he decided to run. 

“I wanted to run a fair race,” Stassi said. “I believe that I did that…with a lot of help from my family and friends.” 

Now that he’s Sheriff, Stassi says, “My goal is to make sure everybody works hard and is committed to providing the parish with quality law enforcement and I intend to set the example. I try to make sure to hold myself and everyone accountable for the safety and protection of this parish.” 

His wife, Caroline, said that this has all truly been a journey. 

“We have met with many wonderful people along the way, from all walks of life who all have the same goal of raising their family in a peaceful parish,” she said.   

Brett continues to be visible in the community despite the election being over. 

“He knows how important it is to stay accessible, so he can hear the concerns of the people he serves,” said Caroline.  

Stassi says that helping make this community safer and the residents safer is more than a job….it’s a passion. 

Smiling, he says, “I love this job….not as much as my wife and my family….but it’s close.”