A Louisiana city
official abandoned his race for state senate as a
newspaper prepared to report that he had twice been detained
on suspicion of lewd conduct in mall restrooms, New
Orleans's WDSU-TV reported.
Joey DiFatta of
Chalmette, chairman of the St. Bernard Parish Council,
cited "health concerns and stress" in ending his campaign
Thursday for Louisiana's first district senate seat.
Times-Picayune reported late Thursday that DiFatta, a
Republican, had been stopped twice since 1996, the year he
first won public office, on suspicion of lewd behavior
in Jefferson Parish restrooms.
He was not
arrested in either case, the paper said. In the 1996 case, a
man who initially accused DiFatta of watching him through a
bathroom peephole withdrew his complaint. In the
second, in March 2000, an undercover deputy conducting
a sting operation ceased his surveillance when several
children entered the room.
In both cases,
police reports state, DiFatta, when asked to show
identification, produced a badge showing him to be a St.
Bernard sheriff's captain.
DiFatta, 53, told
the Times-Picayune the reports are true but
denied any wrongdoing. He said he had no arrest record and
that the controversy was unrelated to his stepping
down. He told the paper that he had been having "chest
pains" and "elevated enzyme levels" indicative of
heart problems and that his doctor advised him "to
make some changes" in his life.
brandishing his law-enforcement ID but said it was just
part of the identification he carries in his wallet.
The paper called
him "a strong voice for his constituents, traveling
often to Washington, D.C., to fight for recovery help" after
DiFatta gave up
his chance for reelection to the St. Bernard council when
he entered the senate race, WDSU reported. (Barbara Wilcox,