The mayor of White Castle, La., may have some explaining to do. Chris Nakamoto, the chief investigator of local news station WBRZ, was arrested Thursday when he attempted to legally access public files that detail Mayor Jermarr Williams’ pay—specifically, how much taxpayer money went to his travel expenses.

Earlier this week, WBRZ filed for access to the documents and obtained some of them, but Nakamoto later returned to City Hall to search for missing papers. It was then that he was arrested.

Under Louisiana law, citizens have the right to “obtain a copy or reproduction of any public record.”

WBRZ captured footage of the arrest. It reported that Nakamoto was detained “for an alleged violation of statute 14:63, remaining after being forbidden.”

Since Nakamoto’s arrest, WBRZ investigative reporter Michael Shingleton has received the documents the station had sought. WBRZ now is analyzing the mayor’s pay.

RawStory reports:

According to WBRZ, Williams’ pay saw a nearly 20 percent jump between April and November of 2015. An increase in pay for the mayor can only be approved by the City Council by way of a municipal ordinance.

Nakamoto and [photojournalist Joe] McCoy, an award-winning team from the station’s investigative unit, were looking into when—or whether—the ordinance for the mayor’s pay increase was approved.

Earlier this year, Alderman Garnell Young, a former mayor who failed to gain re-election, accused Mayor Williams of receiving an illegal pay increase. Responding to the complaint, Williams commented, “He’s just mad he lost.”

Young and another former mayor sued White Castle last November, arguing that “town officials” were “not adhering to the state’s public record laws.”

Nakamoto will have to appear in court next month to answer the trespassing charge. The White Castle police chief and the mayor’s office have not commented on the incident yet.

Posted by Emma Niles

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